Everyone always asks if travel insurance is really needed. The answer is it depends. For seniors it is needed. Senior travel insurance is one of the most important protections to have. There are many reasons. Some are obvious others may surprise most seniors.
First the obvious. Everyone including seniors hopes their travel will be hassle free. But in case it’s not, you want to have something that will help out with cancellations, delays, lost or stolen baggage or other valuables etc. This is a good enough reason alone to have some kind of travel insurance. After all you probably laid at a lot of money for that special trip you’ve been planning.
For seniors traveling while all that is important, that’s not really the most important benefits of trip insurance. What is the most critical is medical coverage. We all know as we get older we are more susceptible to illnesses especially when we travel. And accidents can be more serious with age. So while it’s terrific that we have the time to travel more as we reach retirement age, we also need to think about special needs for health and accident protection.
Unfortunately many seniors think they have all the protection they need with their current health insurance plans. The truth is that in most cases this is not true. Here’s why.
Medicare and Medigap Insurance Coverage
In most situations, Medicare won’t pay for health care or supplies you get outside the United States. The term “outside the U.S.” means anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
There are three situations when Medicare may pay for certain types of health care services you get in a foreign hospital (a hospital outside the U.S.):
- You’re in the U.S. when you have a medical emergency, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury.
- You’re traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury. Medicare determines what qualifies as “without unreasonable delay” on a case-by-case basis.
- You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.
Remember, in these situations, Medicare will pay only for the Medicare-covered services you get in a foreign hospital. Medicare drug plans can’t cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S. As you can see these are very limited situations.
Medicare may cover medically-necessary health care services you get on a cruise ship in these situations:
- The doctor is allowed under certain laws to provide medical services on the cruise ship.
- The ship is in a U.S. port or no more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port when you get the services, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.
- Medicare doesn’t cover health care services you get when the ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.
Your Medigap policy may offer additional coverage for health care services or supplies that you get outside the U.S. A Medigap policy is supplemental health insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage.
Standard Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M and N provide some foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S. Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer for sale, but if you bought one before June 1, 2010, you may keep it. All of these plans also provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S. Medigap Plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M and N pay 80% of the billed charges for certain medically-necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible for the year.
These Medigap policies cover foreign travel emergency care if it begins during the first 60 days of your trip, and if Medicare doesn’t otherwise cover the care. Foreign travel emergency coverage with Medigap policies has a lifetime limit of $50,000. Before you travel outside the U.S., talk with your Medigap Company or insurance agent to get more information about your Medigap coverage while traveling and what it actually will cover. You may find that a separate senior travel insurance policy may be worth the little extra cost.
Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance
If you become ill or injured and it is necessary that you be evacuated to a hospital or medical facility that can provide the needed medical care, it can become costly very quickly without the evacuation and repatriation coverage. Most regular health plans do not provide adequate coverage. Check yours. This alone will probably justify the cost of travel insurance. There are many variations of this coverage so compare plans before you choose one.
Compare Quotes for the Best Value in Senior Travel Insurance
The easiest and best way to make sure you get the most value for your travel insurance dollar is to compare quotes for senior travel plans from the leading travel insurance carriers. It’s easy, quick and can save you money. Try it here.