When talking about travel medical insurance, what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.
When reading through a typical social media newsfeed, one will undoubtedly find a question or two about travel insurance. Travellers all want the same thing: an insurance policy that will allow them to have peace of mind when travelling, without fear that their claim could be denied, and without having to lose an arm (financially!) in the process. They want “the best insurance” or more precisely “the least expensive”. That’s when answers start coming in:
“Take insurance A.” “Don’t take insurance B!”
“I’m covered by this credit card…” “I’m covered by that one…”
What you need to keep in mind is that when talking about travel medical insurance, what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.
A travel insurance premium is calculated upon a mix of factors, which are unique to each traveller. Moreover, each insurance company will look at these factors differently. That’s why the same person could have very different premiums when comparing different insurance products, even if they give the same information to all of them.
Here are some of the factors that could impact your premium:
- Trip length
- Your health or pre-existing medical conditions
- Coverage amount
- Adding options
- The use of a deductible
- Available discounts at the time of purchase
- And many more !
The average person will rarely provide that many details about their personal situation when writing on social media that insurance A was the least expensive. It could have been the least expensive for them but won’t necessarily be the least expensive for you.
Furthermore, a person could be very satisfied with the premium they paid for their insurance policy this year, but that same insurance policy could cost them a lot more the year after. Aging or travelling only a few days longer could significantly impact the risk that this person represents for the underwriter, and the premium will be adjusted accordingly. A premium is a matter of circumstances.
You should also keep in mind that “price” and “quality” are two very different concepts. The best thing to do is to shop for the insurance policy that will meet your needs.
The “Best” Insurance
This is another topic where one must make use of common sense. On what criteria can we judge that an insurance is ‘better’ than another? Could we consider that insurance A was ‘the best’ because it paid Mr. Smith’s claim, while insurance B was ‘the worst’ because it declined Mrs. Johnson’s? Of course not.
You are surely aware that insurance companies cannot decide to pay or deny a claim simply by flipping a coin. When announcing to a client that their claim is denied, insurance companies need to have solid proof of why they made such a decision.
- Was there an omission in the file?
- Did the client make a false declaration when answering the medical questionnaire?
- Did the client’s pre-existing medical conditions meet the insurer’s stability clause?
- Was the client participating in a risky activity at the time of the accident?
- Did the client call the insurance company’s emergency assistance prior to consulting or receiving treatment, as per the indications in the policy?
- Is the claim covered by another insurance company?
Many factors can justify a claim denial, but the disappointed claimant will seldom expose the entire story when writing that insurance X denied their claim. As per the Travel Health Insurance Association’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, travellers must:
- Know their health
- Know their trip
- Know their policy
- Know their rights
Unfortunately, many people are still under the (false!) impression that insurance companies will do everything and anything in their power to avoid paying claims (while certain surveys made among insurance companies show that close to 95% of claims are paid). An insurance company is not a magician: it cannot pull out a surprise clause from a hat whenever it feels like it. Everything is written black on white in the documents provided to the client, and it is the client’s responsibility to read these documents and ask questions before leaving on their trip.
You should look for positive testimonials, comments and reviews when searching for “the best travel insurance”. How is insurance A’s customer service? Does your broker recommend insurance A or B? For what reason(s)?
Finally, our experts recommend…
When shopping for travel medical insurance, it must first and foremost meet your needs. They are as unique as you are. And they can change from one trip to the next. It is also important to keep in mind that it is human and normal to look for recommendations, but one must make use of good judgement. Would you refuse to visit a hotel or restaurant simply because one person gave them a bad review, while hundreds of others appreciated the place? Probably not. In the same vein, would you dismiss an insurance company that meets your needs because it declined your aunt’s cousin’s third neighbour’s claim for reasons that were not given by the concerned person when writing their post on social media? 😉