The reality of Outpatient claims abroad
Nobody expects their vacation to be interrupted by a medical emergency. The majority of Travel Insurance claims are for relatively minor outpatient issues such as allergic reactions, colds, open wounds or a broken bone. Be prepared to pay for these outpatient treatments upfront.
Travel Insurance policies often promise to take care of any bills you incur while abroad. In reality, no insurance plan pays out any money without making sure that you have a valid insurance policy, that you are eligible, and that you don’t fall into any of the policy’s exclusions.
Now imagine you are a doctor’s office in Spain. Wouldn’t you rather have an immediate payment from the patient than wait for some overseas company to hopefully send you a check? Of course you would, which is why your insurance company will have a hard time convincing the service provider to do otherwise.
What you can do to prevent nasty surprises and speed up the claims process
Before you purchase or right after you purchase any Travel Emergency plan, take 20 minutes to read the policy wording! You will find that most of it is self explanatory. Highlight the things you are not clear about and call your insurance provider. It is the job of your insurance agent to translate the insurance language into simple examples.
Write down what the insurance will need from you to confirm whether or not your claim is payable. For example take a copy of your insurance certificate and policy wording with you. Some plans require you to prove your dates of travel, so if you have traveled by air, make sure to hang on to your boarding pass stub (as a copy of your reservation does not mean that you actually traveled that day).
If you leave by car, purchase an item on your credit card before you leave the country. That way you have proof that you haven’t been travelling longer than allowed. Do the same thing the moment you arrive back into your home country.
Make sure you have your family physician’s information with you. Most travel policies have a pre-existing condition exclusion which will require review of your past medical history.
If you do end up paying out pocket, you will need to provide an adequate receipt. Depending on the country you are visiting, the locally issued receipts may not be good enough for your insurance company. Double check with your insurance provider beforehand what information needs to be on the receipt for it to be accepted in case of a claim.