Do Americans lack travel medical cover?

American flags

ITIJ recently reported from a study undertaken by the US Travel Insurance Association (USTiA), which analysed the travel insurance habits of US travellers. And while there were some positive headline figures, with overall purchases of travel cover by Americans increasing by more than 40 per cent in 2018, Silicon Valley-based insurtech company VisitorsCoverage has expressed concerns about some of the other findings

Specifically, the company has suggested that the fact that travel medical policies only accounted for 6.3 per cent of overall sales is a cause for some worry.

“Global travellers typically purchase travel medical insurance for travel to other countries at the time of booking their travel,” said the insurtech’s CEO and Founder, Rajeev Shrivastava. “American travellers too often trust single options offered to them for travel coverage after purchasing airline tickets or rely on their credit card travel coverage for all of their travel needs. Unfortunately, they are risking serious financial consequences if they do not purchase comprehensive medical travel insurance coverage.”

The majority of domestic health insurance plans that US travellers will purchase do not offer any kind of coverage for treatment or hospitalisation outside of the US, warned Shrivastava, and Medicare will not stretch to such treatments either. If Americans are unaware of this, however, it could potentially lead them into severe – and expensive – difficulty. Therefore, Shrivastava added: “It is the duty of all companies in the travel insurance industry to educate the American public with educational materials and comparison tools that clearly illustrate what their US-based medical insurance will or will not cover if treatment or hospitalisation is required while abroad.”

ITIJ was certainly heartened to see some of the positive figures uncovered in USTiA’s report. However, VisitorsCoverage raises a point worth discussing – there is always the potential for better and more wide-ranging education, and when it comes to travellers’ physical, mental and financial safety, nothing can be left to chance.

After all, you know what they say about assumptions ...