People who purchase travel insurance policies often expect these short-term plans to work exactly the same way as their domestic plans provided by their employers. However, since these policies are short-term plans, they work differently. Two issues that frustrate the customers a lot are:
Restrictions on Coverage
- No preventive or wellness coverage
- No pre-existing condition coverage
- No Dental or Vision Coverage
Filing a Claim (Have to file a claim even if there is direct billing): While we sincerely empathize with the customer’s frustrations, we can also logically understand the reason for these coverage restrictions, as well as the more complicated claim process.
Restriction of Coverage in Travel Insurance Policy
Preventative Care: Most travel insurance policies do not have coverage for preventative care and pre-existing condition coverage. Preventative care, like general physical checkups and shots like flu-shots, are not medically necessary. People take these steps as precautionary measures. Since these travel insurance policies are only temporary, it does not make sense for these plans to cover preventive or wellness care.
Pre-Existing Condition Coverage: Pre-existing conditions are any kind of medical condition that the person has, is on medication for, or aware of, before the policy becomes effective. Most of the time it deals with long-term medical conditions that require regular management, e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc.
Most travel insurance policies have very little or no coverage for pre-existing conditions. This is frustrating for people. However, what a lot of people do not realize is that unless you are covered in an employer-based group insurance plan, it is extremely difficult to get an individual plan with pre-existing condition coverage, even if you are a U.S. citizen or resident living in the U.S..
Insurance companies view pre-existing condition coverage as high risk for themselves. If they do not have coverage for U.S, citizens or residents who have long-term coverage, it is only understandable that they would not cover these for a short-term travel insurance policy.
Dental & Vision Coverage: Most people who live in the US would already know that in the US, dental and vision insurances are always separate from health insurances. Even as citizens and residents, you would need to purchase separate plans for dental and vision coverage. Travel insurance policies are essentially medical insurance. So they have very little or no dental or vision coverage.
Filing A Claim
When you use a domestic insurance, most of the time the doctor or provider directly bills the insurance company, and you do not have to deal with the claims. However, for travel insurance, you have to file a claim, whether the provider directly bills the insurance company or asks you to pay upfront.
This is because when you have domestic insurance, the providers as well as the insurance company have all your information, including your social security number. But when a visitor uses a travel insurance policy, the claim form along with the passport information allows the insurance company to ascertain the traveler’s identity, as well as the services they have taken. Thus the insurance company can make sure that payments are being made to the right person or the right provider. This is the reason why filing a claim is a mandatory step to get your claim processed, even if the providers directly bill the insurance company.
Understand the Policy, Read the Brochure
Before purchasing any travel insurance policy, it is advisable to read the policy brochure and understand the coverage provided by the policy. This can help clarify what is covered by the policy and how much is covered. This can help in reducing and avoiding the misunderstandings and frustrations when using the travel insurance policy.