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Preparing For Your Trip To Europe: Health Insurance For Travelers

When you travel abroad, there is always a possibility of getting sick somewhere along the way. While there seems to be a new contagion to fear frequently (right now, it’s the Zika virus), it’s more common for travelers to come down with the common cold from encountering so many people and germs during their trip.

Yet statistics show that far too many people in the United States don't realize their health insurance may not cover them when traveling abroad.

If you're returning to Europe this spring for business or leisure, it's important you understand the implications, since you may have to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses in another country.

This only places a burden on you trying to find additional health insurance as a safeguard for you and your family. But it's worth every effort to avoid a bigger headache down the line.

When searching for a new overseas policy, never feel intimidated asking the provider numerous questions to assure you're getting the coverage you need. Always thoroughly vet your insurance providers and ask for details on the coverage you'll receive.

Asking Your Current Provider About International Coverage

It's possible your current insurance provider can give you coverage in another country, though don't automatically assume. They may have limitations based on where you're going and the type of medical treatments you could need. If in doubt, it's best to seek supplemental traveler’s insurance.

Noted travel expert Rick Steves reminds that while your existing insurance might cover medical problems overseas, Medicare definitely doesn't.

In many cases, you'll have to pay a hospital or doctor up front, then have it reimbursed through your existing policy here in the states.

Factors That Affect Coverage

What your lifestyle is in another country plays a major factor in what coverage you'll receive. Whether you use your current plan or get new primary coverage for international use, pre-existing conditions and other health problems bring equal scrutiny as in America.

Living in parts of Europe, you may often enjoy skiing or mountain climbing. You'll have to mention these high-risk pastimes when applying for health insurance, so prepare for possibly paying a higher premium.

What you pay, though, depends on how reputable the insurance companies are. In many cases, you can even get discounts under special circumstances.

Finding the Right Provider, and Saving Money

When you visit the US Department of State's website, you'll find a list of international insurance providers that are generally considered the best known. Even though the government doesn't directly endorse these, it's a reliable source to find solid medical insurance. It includes insurance providers for medical evacuation if an accident occurs in a remote location.

With the premiums sometimes being expensive, you'll want to look for ways to save money. Some methods are available to help you save like buying cheaper insurance packages, or taking coverage only for what you really need.

Other saving methods include discounts from your employer, from a school, or through a travel agent. AAA frequently provides discounts on health insurance, especially if you're a loyal member.

Keeping Tabs on International Health Warnings

Pay attention to the U.S. State Department's website again for health warnings overseas. They give warnings and alerts every day to help you decide what kind of health insurance you should get.

You'll need supplemental insurance if you travel to these countries out of business necessity. Otherwise, your current insurance isn't typically honored in these risky locations.

When traveling to another country, whether it’s for business or pleasure, it's important to maintain a stress-free lifestyle so you can concentrate on the important things. Just like having your own long-term car rental can give you the freedom to go where ever you want, whenever you want, traveler’s health insurance can give you the peace of mind that you’ll be covered should anything unfortunate happen during your trip. 

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