“Many groups and non-profits might be asking, “Do we need insurance? Should we require proof of insurance? Our trip doesn’t include non-refundable travel expenses.”
Why your short term requirements need to include International Travel Medical Insurance.
While Short–Term Projects Overseas are an exciting opportunity to grow cross-culturally as well as make a meaningful contribution to others, there are risks involved that aren’t covered by your participants’ U.S. domestic health insurance. Here is why you need insurance when traveling overseas:
- Between one-third to one-quarter of short-term volunteers will either get sick or have an accident overseas this year, usually due to the places they are serving.
- Even tour groups going to France or South America can have a participant get hit by a car (or hurt) while taking a picture, or looking at their phone when walking in unfamiliar areas.
- Most team leaders, online bloggers and tour operators think that “Travel Insurance” is the same thing as “Trip Cancellation Insurance” and can give you bad advice if you ask “Do we need insurance?” And then your organization is exposed and can get sued.
Your short-term team may not need insurance, if by that you mean Trip Cancellation Insurance – Only those prepaying for expensive flights or tours (or cruises) that are non-refundable should look into it, if you think the trip might have to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances, another reason for trip cancellation.
WHEN YOU NEED INSURANCE:
International health insurance is different from trip cancellation, and critical to protecting the health and safety of your team. You may also want to consider an online travel risk training course. (Similar to the training offered to the U.S. State department and their families).
If you don’t require travel medical insurance you could be putting your non-profit organization and board members at risk. Parents or family members might sue you if something terrible were to happen overseas and you had not done all you could to protect volunteers prior to the trip…or if their loved one required medical evacuation (often costing from $20,000-250,000).
All the international team health insurance policies you see on our website include medical and political evacuation at no extra cost. (Political evacuation is included as long as the U.S. State Department hasn’t issued warnings against U.S. travel to that country.)
Most of your participant’s normal domestic health insurance will only cover life-threatening injuries/illness if outside their home country. Certain health plans may pay for care if hurt overseas but none will cover medical evacuation, or return of remains, or cover flying a family member overseas to be with a participant if they are hospitalized. We recommend international health insurance as a back-up (at around $1.00-1.50 a day on average) even when team members have good medical insurance at home. It’s easier for organizations and team leaders to require a policy than to have to check each person’s health insurance coverage prior to departure to guarantee they have adequate overseas coverage. When flights are costing $800-1500., it’s one of the easiest, cheapest ways to protect your team. This is why, rather than trying to determine which participants need insurance based on their current U.S. policy and carrier, most organizations choose to require travel medical insurance as a primary, or sometimes secondary back-up, policy based on what domestic health insurance they have and what it covers. Assuredly, when someone gets seriously hurt, no one is unhappy about having more coverage, especially when the costs are so negligible.
Can you imagine being responsible for an accident costing $10,000-$120,000U.S. in medical bills for a team member or their family? Can your team members, or their family afford:
- Emergency hospitalization, and/or medical care overseas?
- Continuing hospitalization or rehabilitation or additional surgery required back home?
- Additional costs of airline tickets due to missed flights?
- Can they afford to travel to ________ in order to be present with their family member prior to any surgery?
If you have 6 people going with you overseas, thirty dollars a person for insurance is not much to pay for the peace of mind, knowing that help is a phone call away.
Without overseas insurance, you have to find a local hospital or doctor that will accept your team member’s domestic insurance card. Or, you will need a credit card with a high limit (preferably Visa or MC) because hospitals overseas usually require payment up front.
International travel insurance pays for the insured to receive treatment outside the country if proper care is not available locally, even if that means special transportation such as a chartered air ambulance. They’ll even pay to get a member home if there is a death in the family.
Return of mortal remains:
If a participant died overseas, short-term team insurance also pays the costs to bring the body home. This is called “Return of Mortal Remains” and it is included. Highly unlikely, but imagine the thousands of dollars in added expenses one of your teammate’s family, (who has already just received bad news) would have to pay. And insurance is an advocate helping with all the details of shipping the body on their behalf.
Some teams expect that the social or national healthcare system of the country they are visiting will cover any emergencies. This is a mistake. Most will not pay for foreigners using the system. You will most often pay for their services upfront.
We hope this has helped you better understand the need for travel medical insurance for your team(s). The staff at Good Neighbor Insurance is serious about keeping people safe. Especially teams going overseas to do good.
We know you care. You wouldn’t be volunteering or leading teams overseas if you didn’t.
As you can see, we care too. That’s why we say, “You need insurance.”
We’re passionate about serving and protecting the overseas community and short-term volunteers! The plans you see here on www.socialgoodinsurance.com have the best benefits and are the most affordable short-term insurance from among the hundreds of plans you can choose to protect for short term team(s).
See related article at: “Can a volunteer sue your non-profit organization?”