Glossary of Travel Insurance Terms
Whenever you get into a hairy topic like insurance, it’s important to know the jargon and important terms that you’ll come across so that you can confidently choose the right policy for your situation.
Here’s a glossary of some terms you need to know to get started.
The money (benefit) that’s paid to you in the event of a claim.
Somebody who receives money (usually the person receiving a life insurance payout if you die).
You “have a claim” or are “filing a claim” if you are applying to the insurance company to for a payout (benefit) in the event of receiving medical care that’s covered under the policy.
Co-paying is having to pay a percentage of the medical expense yourself (not to be confused with a deductible, below). It’s usually 10-20% of the total cost, up to a limit.
For example: You incur $1,000 in medical expenses. If the co-pay/co-insurance amount is 10%, you pay $100, and the insurance company pays the remaining $900.
Before the insurance company covers anything (even on a co-insurance basis), they can require that you pay a deductible, which means you pay for the first portion of expenses.
For example: You incur $1,000 in medical expenses, and have a $250 deductible. You’ll pay the $250 deductible, then the remaining $750 is shared between you and the insurance company dependent on your co-insurance deal (ie: you co-pay 10%, which is $75).
Watch out for the fine print about deductibles; some are per policy year, and some are per claim or medical provider. If you have multiple claims (which is possible on a more comprehensive policy that covers regular doctor/physio/chiropractor/etc visits), then you could end up paying a deductible many times over before qualifying for any reimbursement.
Emergency Medical Evacuation
If medical care is unavailable or inappropriate, an emergency medical evacuation benefit will cover the cost to get you to a place where you can receive the treatment you need, or even back home if it’s deemed reasonable by the insurance company. This can be horrifically expensive once you’re looking at things like medical helicopters, so you usually see large benefit amounts allotted for this clause.
Policy exclusions are things that aren’t covered. They can either be pre-existing conditions (see below), or injuries as a result of certain activities you participate in (like skydiving or scuba diving), or claims resulting from being in war-torn or politically unstable regions.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient
An inpatient is somebody who has been assigned a hospital bed, even if it’s only for a day visit. Outpatients are everybody else. Some basic emergency medical policies only cover for inpatient expenses, which can be quite exclusive, so watch out.
If the application process involves a medical questionnaire, they’re looking for pre-existing conditions, and if you have one, they’ll often refuse to cover you for future related incidents.
Even if the policy doesn’t have a medical questionnaire, a pre-existing condition is something that you knew about or had symptoms of prior to your application. Some policies exclude all pre-existing conditions for the first 2 years. So if you make a claim for a heart attack within 6 months of getting a policy, and the insurance company finds out that you saw a doctor 3 months before applying for the policy with complaints of chest pain, it’s a pre-existing condition and you might not be covered.
The money you pay the insurance company for coverage.
Sending your body back home to your family if you die abroad.