Travel Insurance - UK to US

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helion83
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Location: London, UK

Travel Insurance - UK to US

Post by helion83 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:02 pm

Hey, we've been looking at travel health insurance and after reading a few customer reviews (not on the company websites at least) it's getting kind of hard to know which company too use. Was wondering what are peoples experiences and do any Burners have a recommendation too make?

Thank you :)
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Damnit Janet!

Anarquistador
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Burning Since: 2014
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Travel Insurance - UK to US

Post by Anarquistador » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:31 pm

I used to work in the travel insurance industry in Australia. Hopefully you already realise that there is NO WAY you should travel without insurance to the USA if you don't want to risk bankruptcy. I have found Columbus Direct (a UK company) and Cover-More (Australian company but pretty sure they still have a branch in the UK) both pretty good. It gets bloody hard to compare policies because they often cover different things, to different amounts, with different exclusions or cover the same things but under different sections or call them something different so it's definitely not an apples-for-apples comparison. I used to have to make spreadsheets for my boss that compared our policy to our competitor's policies and it was a nightmare trying to present it in a way that made sense, so if you are over-whelmed by it all it only shows you are human.

A few tips:

Start by thinking about what you want covered and what is non-negotiable for you, and this may narrow down the number of suitable policies. In the USA obviously this should include medical treatment and additional costs of getting you home in a medical emergency. You might want to also consider cancellation, certain baggage items, passport replacement costs, and if you're renting a car a lot of policies cover the excess on the car rental company's insurance.

Existing medical conditions: Make sure they will be covered, or that you can get them covered by paying extra. If in doubt, ring them and ask, and get a response in writing or note the name of the person you are speaking with, the time and date of the call (this is also good general advice whenever a company advises yo about something important on the policy) so call recordings can be found later on if needed. I spoke with a gentleman who travelled to the USA with a mild heart condition. It would have cost a couple of hundred (A$) extra to cover it and he chose not to take that cover. He had a heart attack and required surgery, and the hospital bill alone came to over US$150,000.

Check Single Item limits for baggage/personal possessions: Just because a policy states it covers $3000 for baggage, doesn't mean it will cover your $2000 camera. It may specify a limit per item, including attachments, it may have different item limits for cameras, computers, jewelery and everything else. Check if you need to specify the more expensive items or if you can cover them to a greater limit by paying a bit more.

Cancellation: Loads of people think it's unnecessary because they "don't want to cancel". But this isn't to cover changing your mind about travelling, it's in case something unforeseen makes it necessary to cancel or cut your trip short, such as illness or a death in the family. Airlines won't refund unused flights etc. but you might be able to recover those expenses through insurance.

Rental car excess: The excess (or "deductible" if you're in the USA) is the first part of a claim that isn't covered by insurance. That means if you claim for $1000 worth of lost luggage with a $100 excess you would get $900 back from the insurer, but if you lost one or two small items not worth $100+ you wouldn't bother claiming for that. On a travel insurance policy this would typically be no more than $200 dollars but on a rental car insurance policy this could be thousands. Most rental companies will offer you the option of reducing *their* excess from thousands of dollars to a couple of hundred dollars by paying a bit more per day and it's usually worth paying that. If your *travel* insurance covers the excess on your *car rental* insurance, you may not need to take the additional option from the rental company. As always check the total amount you can claim, and be aware that there may be exclusions for driving off-road, and almost certainly exclusions for being a drunk-driving bloody idiot.

That's all I can think of for now, but if I remember any more tips I'll post again. Feel free to ask any questions, too.

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Popeye
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Camp Name: Beaverton
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Re: Travel Insurance - UK to US

Post by Popeye » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:09 am

Most US policies do not cover air ambulance fees. I went with this Reno based company http://www.care-flight.com/membership.html
nobody wants to live in a world with only one flavor...

Beatwrangler
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Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:57 am
Burning Since: 2013

Re: Travel Insurance - UK to US

Post by Beatwrangler » Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:30 am

I'm doing the same thing (hunting for a decent policy). At the moment i'm trying to get a sensible answer from the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) as to which (if any) of their policies will suit.

For me - the key thing about insurance for trips that involve some actual risk..is how well they respond to any emergency - NOT the basic cost. If you find you need insurance in trying conditions then the amount you will pay for things not covered is likely to be huge. Also - the hassle of contacting and arranging things.

You have to be a member of the BMC to get their insurance (doesn't cost a huge amount) but their response to emergencies is nothing short of amazing. For instance - a friend of mine was out in the middle of nowhere in Switzerland; climbing with several friends. One of them fell and broke her leg. They managed to get her to hospital themselves (because frankly there was no other option) - but the BMC literally did everything else....... they covered the cost of petrol to get her to the hospital, they sorted out the medical care, arranged flights home and transport to the airport - and arranged a pick up from the airport to home. Without fuss.

That's what I want from travel insurance!

Their policies are a wee bit more expensive but not by much and less than many.

As soon as I get an answer about Burning Man i'll post back here...but for me - they are the people to use for any trip (they do a normal travel policy without the need to be climbing/abseiling/skiing etc).

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