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 following:
- Trip Cancellation / Delays / Interruption
- Baggage Delays or Loss
- Medical Expenses
- Emergency Medical Evacuation
Make sure to find out also 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: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/health/insurance-providers.html
For all of my trips abroad (including the very first one in 2000), I have used HCC Medical Insurance Services (formerly MNUI). Their website is www.hccmis.com. They are a recognized leader in international health. (Full Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with HCC in any way and don’t receive any commissions)
When you’re abroad
- Have your insurance card, a claim form, and copy of the policy
- Leave copies of all of the above with family back home
- Keep copies of all paperwork like medical charts, prescriptions, boarding passes, and currency exchange receipts
- Follow the claims-submission process meticulously