On a recent trip to the Caribbean, I had the honor to spend a few hours in a Jamaican hospital! It wasn’t anything too serious. I was taking a kiteboarding lesson and while walking around in water up to my waist, I managed to whack my foot on a submerged rock. The photo above is my instructor. I wasn’t quite that good 🙂
Later that day, one toe in particular turned blue and purple and online medical advice suggested I see a doctor. Uh oh. Also, this happened to be the same foot I had broken before so I thought I’d look into some Jamaican health care just to be on the safe side.
How much is this going to cost?
After a visit to Google and a phone call to the American consulate, I found a private hospital not too far from my hotel. An exam and x-ray didn’t locate any broken bones so for a few days I spent time limping around and sitting at beachside bars.
Total bill for everything at the hospital? Around $270. Rats. But I’ll be reimbursed for that because I had purchased travel insurance before I left home.
It was a good reminder that even though travel and adventures are fun, sometimes bad things happen. Bad things that cost money. I was fortunate that my expenses were relatively minor. Even if I didn’t have insurance, I wasn’t going to be ruined by $270 in expenses.
But at the hospital I talked to an elderly gentleman that came to Jamaica for his grandson’s wedding. He become sick enough to required hospitalization for nearly a week. Also, because of his illness he couldn’t go home on a commercial flight and needed to be flown back to Florida on a private air ambulance, which is ridiculously expensive.
Welcome the world of travel insurance.
1) What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a short-term policy that covers various losses while you’re traveling that may not be covered by insurance you have at home.
2) How much does it cost?
The price varies depending on the time period and coverage. For example, on my last trip that was for 2 weeks I paid $90 that also included a rider that covered adventure sports.
3) What does it cover?
Common items covered by travel insurance include:
Trip cancellation: Suppose you have to put down a non-refundable deposit on some type of trip and then you’re unable to go because of illness or death in your family. Travel insurance would reimburse you for the deposit.
Emergency medical: If you need medical care while traveling, this coverage is helpful if you own health policy doesn’t apply. Or some long term travelers may not even have insurance at home and instead use the travelers insurance to handle any medical needs.
Medical evacuation: Suppose you’re injured in a foreign country and you need to be flown home for further medical care. But if your injuries are serious enough you may not be able to travel on a normal commercial flight and instead require a private air ambulance. If your own health policy doesn’t cover this type of expense you’ll have a huge bill to pay on your own.
Lost/stolen personal items: I lost my phone in Grenada last fall and was reimbursed $300 by travel insurance.
4) Where can I buy it?
Travel insurance can easily be purchased online. I use Squaremouth.com where I get quotes from many different companies. All I have to do is plug in my travel dates, destination, and other info and immediately get a list of quotes that makes for simple comparison shopping.
It’s a good idea to check your own health and homeowner’s insurance and see if you have any gaps in coverage while traveling. Travel insurance can be great way to take care of the rare losses that can happen when you’re far from home.