We strongly recommend that you have an insurance policy for you trip abroad.
The typical coverages for your policy should include:
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption
- Travel Delay
- Baggage Delays or Loss
- Medical Expenses
- Emergency Medical Evacuation
- Emergency Travel Assistance
For all of my trips abroad (including the very first one in 2000), I have bought travel insurance policies from Tokio Marine HCC – Medical Insurance Services Group (specifically the “Atlas” plans). The policies have always cost less than $50 and had $100,000+ of coverage. You order the policy online and print a PDF insurance card. (Note: I’m not affiliated with Tokio in any way and I don’t receive any commissions)
(Below is a more comprehensive discussion of insurance abroad)
There are two types of insurance available for volunteering trips abroad – Travel Insurance and Medical Insurance. I strongly urge you to get both of them.
Travel Insurance covers you for travel-related costs like lost baggage, canceled flights, and travel delays. Medical Insurance covers you for medical expenses like hospital visits, prescriptions, and emergency evacuation.
Where to Start
First – find out if one or more of the following entities will provide you with insurance coverage abroad:
- Your insurance policy back home
- The volunteering placement agency
- The credit card used to book your flights
- The airline(s)
If you do not get insurance from one or more of the above sources, then you will have to obtain a policy from an insurance company that specializes in travel and medical insurance abroad.
What to look for in a policy
Whether you use an existing policy or obtain a new one from a travel specialist insurance company – make sure your policy provides at least $50k in benefits and covers (at minimum) the benefits mentioned above including Emergency Medical Evacuation.
Make sure to also find out about:
- Specific coverages
- Pre-authorization requirements
- Pre-existing conditions
- 24 hour hotline
- Deductibles, co-payments, and refund policies
- Are payments made abroad – or reimbursed to you
Which company to choose
If you obtain a policy from a specialist insurance company – choose a company that provides one policy that covers both travel insurance and medical insurance.
The U.S. State Department has a list of companies that provides travel and medical insurance abroad:
When you’re abroad
- Carry paper copies of your insurance card, a claim form, and the policy
- Leave copies of all of the above with family back home
- If you receive medical care abroad: Keep copies of all paperwork related to your trip medical charts, prescriptions, boarding passes, currency exchange receipts etc.
- Follow the claims-submission process meticulously