Don’t Leave Home Without This – The Most Important Thing You MUST Get Before You Travel

by brian on September 10, 2009

Don’t leave home without it…and I’m not talking about your American Express card…

With the talk of universal health care in America recently, this story struck a nerve with me. Loyal reader Karen passed this on to me and I planned on talking about this today.

Disabled Australian tourist stranded

George Dobson from Australia was hiking in India, fell down a cliff and was paralyzed from the neck down. His family has gone into serious debt to pay for his medical bills and still can’t even get him out of India. They have had to raise over $50,000AUS to get him back to Australia. All of this because he didn’t have TRAVEL INSURANCE.

When we take off, most of us don’t even think about medical insurance. If we have medical insurance in our home country, we automatically assume that it extends when we go overseas. Not always the case.

For the sake of this discussion, I’m talking about medical travel insurance, not travel insurance that covers incidents like reimbursement for lost luggage or cancelled flights. Those generally will not put you or your family in life altering debt or possibly have you lose your life. Medical emergencies can do that.

If this happens, have your travel insurance info ready. Oh you don’t have any? You’ve got a problem…
So what are some of the basics we look for when getting medical travel insurance?

If we have medical insurance at home, find out exactly what it covers overseas. Find out if it is even valid overseas. If not…


  • Should cover whatever country we happen to go to. Some policies only cover certain countries or regions of the world.
  • Should cover lost or stolen prescription medication. If you have a special medical condition that require medicine, don’t pay through your nose to get it back if you run out or lose it.
  • Should cover whatever activities you are involved in, including anything considered extreme, like bungee jumping, jet skiing, sky diving, etc.
  • Should provide instant payments to the health care provider. In other words, you should not have to pay out of your own pocket and then be reimbursed by the insurance company. The insurance company should pay immediately.
  • Should provide for airlift/medivac to your home country. If you are incapacitated and can’t get on a plane under your own power, that is a huge cost to get a special plane and crew to care for you while in the air. Medical evacuation can cost THOUSANDS of dollars. Should also cover ANY transportation needs, for instance, if you need a medivac helicopter because you’re injured and in the wilderness.

Make sure that ambulance doesn’t leave you if you don’t have travel insurance
ambulance Dont Leave Home Without This   The Most Important Thing You MUST Get Before You Travel
When I traveled around the world, I got insurance purchased as a package with my round the world tickets. For about $600 I got full travel insurance, plus medical coverage and medical evacuation if I got in trouble anywhere in the world. $600 is very cheap considering that an airlift back to your home country can cost $30,000 and UP.

Fellow travel blogger Nomadic Matt has an article here on travel insurance for you to check out.

And if you are interested in making a donation to George Dobson’s fund, click here.

Anyone have experience putting in a claim for insurance while overseas? What else should medical travel insurance cover?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

JoAnna September 10, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Thanks for the great post. I appreciate the list of things to look for when choosing travel medical insurance. Are there specific carriers you would recommend? Which company did you choose?


Daniel September 10, 2009 at 12:46 PM

World Nomads is worth checking out, in my opinion. Remember to read the policy wording carefully, as coverage depends on the country in which you reside. Whatever place you go with, just be certain that they are upfront about providing you with policy wording in plain english!


brian September 10, 2009 at 5:16 PM

To be honest I dont even know what company it was because it came as part of the package deal for the RTW tickets. I just knew that it covered what I needed it to.

I've heard alot about World Nomads. That seems to be the one that is highly recommended. I'll check out some more and report what I find.


Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Thanks for such a useful post. The basic thing is that you should use Medical Travel Insurance as a part of travel planning.because it solves many problems.


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