Another cautionary tale about trip insurance

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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#1
I want to share our recent experience with trip insurance and how glad we were we purchased a policy. In a nutshell:

We traveled to Europe for 5 weeks last summer. Midway through the trip I was experiencing symptoms that were of concern. While in Paris we went to the emergency room at American Hospital of Paris where they did a CT scan and found a large cyst. The ER doctor stated that it needed to be removed immediately due to his concern it could rupture. He said we could have it done in Paris the next morning or recommended we fly home immediately to have it removed stateside. We opted for surgery in Paris. I spent two nights in the hospital, was released and continued on with our trip.

The total cost of the surgery, hospital stay and medication was over $14,000. We submitted all the pertinent information to the trip insurance company and received a check after 4 months, 100% reimbursement for our out-of-pocket expenses.

Word of advice for anyone who purchases trip insurance: build a folder with all of the receipts for non-refundable payments that are covered by the policy. Keep this at home in case you need it to submit a claim. Even though our claim was medical related, the insurance company required I provide them with proof of payment for all the items that were covered under the policy, i.e., non-refundable hotel and rental apartment payments, event tickets, etc. This was the hold-up on completing the claim. They never asked for this upfront, only asking for one document at a time taking two weeks to review it before asking for another document. Once I enlisted the help of the customer service manager for the company (thanks Elliott forum for the contact info!) I realized what other documents they would need before they asked and presented all the necessary documents at once rather than one at a time. In addition to a copy of a receipt, they required I show them proof of payment from a credit card statement. It is a tedious process but one I gladly did in order to recoup our expenses.

By the way, if you ever find yourself in need of medical care in Paris, I personally would recommend American Hospital of Paris. It was as pleasant as an experience could be under the circumstances.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#3
Thank you for sharing this, Patina. I wonder how many travellers are strong enough to spend two nights in a Paris hospital, then bounce out and continue their trip ... very impressive.
When your food is brought to you by waiters in white coats with brass buttons, offering your husband a wine list, it felt more like a hotel than a hospital! Besides, anything said in French is always better ;)
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
I saw a dr. at the American Hospital and also agree about the quality of the health care. My issue was not as serious as Patina. In the past I have self insured because I buy more flexible tickets and same for hotels. But unfortunately it seems that I am not getting younger and now need to think about health issues and travel insurance.
 
Likes: AMA and VoR61

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#5
I saw a dr. at the American Hospital and also agree about the quality of the health care. My issue was not as serious as Patina. In the past I have self insured because I buy more flexible tickets and same for hotels. But unfortunately it seems that I am not getting younger and now need to think about health issues and travel insurance.
In our case, we opted for trip insurance because we were attending two events (Formula 1 races) that were expensive, non-refundable and non-transferable as well as the non-refundable hotel bookings in those two cities. Everything else had quite lenient cancellation policies. I signed up for trip insurance (including CFAR), not necessarily for the medical insurance but if we needed to fly home due to an issue with elderly parents. Never did I imagine that I would have an emergency health event considering I have never spent a night in a hospital nor suffered even a broken bone! As they say, never say never......
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#6
In our case, we opted for trip insurance because we were attending two events (Formula 1 races) that were expensive, non-refundable and non-transferable as well as the non-refundable hotel bookings in those two cities. Everything else had quite lenient cancellation policies. I signed up for trip insurance (including CFAR), not necessarily for the medical insurance but if we needed to fly home due to an issue with elderly parents. Never did I imagine that I would have an emergency health event considering I have never spent a night in a hospital nor suffered even a broken bone! As they say, never say never......
I missed this little factoid on the first round, Patina: "I have never spent a night in a hospital... " With your experience in Paris with the wine lists and waiters, I hope you never have to spend a minute in a US hospital!!
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#7
Patina, it may be helpful to readers if you can tell us if you had to pay anything toward the bills in the four months you waited for the check ...
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#8
Patina, it may be helpful to readers if you can tell us if you had to pay anything toward the bills in the four months you waited for the check ...
Alas, the Paris hospital where Dan had his hip replaced was not quite up to Patina's American Hospital's standards, to put it mildly. I paid the $8K (yes, total/total) with a credit card; they emailed a bill about 30 days later. They had released him as soon as I signed her forms (in triplicate, every one of them). without further ado. Well, the taxi lady was concerned that we were going to steal their hundred year old wheelchair, but when someone explained it to her she called us a cab, after completing her journal entry of course.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#9
Then it seems the added takeaway is that, for international travel, one needs $15-20k in available credit card limit "just in case" ...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#10
Then it seems the added takeaway is that, for international travel, one needs $15-20k in available credit card limit "just in case" ...
If the travel insurance policy is a secondary policy- yes. You need to pay everything first and then submit to your health insurance, have it rejected and then send to the insurance company.

You can buy policies that are primary - some will work directly with the hospitals, some you still need to pay and then be reimbursed.

It is not unusual seeing people pooling credit cards or calling to get credit limits raised to be able to get enough credit to pay the Hospital or doctor to be released.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,663
6,656
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San Francisco
#11
Then it seems the added takeaway is that, for international travel, one needs $15-20k in available credit card limit "just in case" ...
Oh my, YES! That first night after the surgery, I spent hours on the computer determining what amounts of credit were available to me. All I could think of was the hospital holding Dan hostage until I came up with thousands of dollars in cash. Of course, a hip replacement in the US costs upwards of $75K, never mind the fees of all the professionals running around the OR. $8K was a pieced of cake.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#12
While I am grateful to have learned this information, it places our chances of future international travel out of reach ...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#13
While I am grateful to have learned this information, it places our chances of future international travel out of reach ...
The chances of something happening are so small I wouldn’t ever stop traveling outside the US for something like this when you could look for a policy that pays primary and will pay the Hospital
or doctor directly. They do exist.
 
Likes: jsn55 and ADM
Mar 19, 2018
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#14
Patina, thanks for thé very informative post - glad you had such a good outcome!
My problem with buying travel insurance is choosing the insurer...so many seem to offer similar benefits.
Would you be willing to identify the travel insurance company & would you use them again?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,663
6,656
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San Francisco
#15
Patina, thanks for thé very informative post - glad you had such a good outcome!
My problem with buying travel insurance is choosing the insurer...so many seem to offer similar benefits.
Would you be willing to identify the travel insurance company & would you use them again?
Nct, I just sent you a PC.
 
Aug 29, 2015
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#17
The chances of something happening are so small I wouldn’t ever stop traveling outside the US for something like this when you could look for a policy that pays primary and will pay the Hospital
or doctor directly. They do exist.
The definitely do!
The company I purchase travel insurance from charges only $25 extra per person to go from secondary to primary coverage.

We stay with secondary, because it works for us, but we are glad of the option.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#19
@VoR61 We did pay out of pocket then get reimbursed. The hospital required payment before I was discharged. I believe some credit card companies will increase your credit limit under emergency circumstances but we have a couple of credit cards for just this type of situation. Our policy was a primary policy so no need to go through our primary health insurance company for denial, etc. in order to get reimbursement.

@Nct57 I initially looked for a policy on insuremytrip.com to compare policies. The company we ended up with was TripMate. Since they paid the claim in full without any adjustments to our receipts, I would say they fulfilled their obligation, albeit, slowly. In the future, I think I will continue to research travel insurance through a comparative website like insuremytrip then decide what policy best suits our needs. I won't choose TripMate immediately but I would not rule them out either.

I was frustrated with them at first because I submitted every single thing that was required on the submission form but they kept spoon-feeding requests for documentation. The people you speak to are not the claim adjusters so they have very limited information they can give you. They cannot answer any questions about the claims process and only ask for what is documented in your file without any explanation. For example, "we need to see payment for the travel package." My response, "we did not purchase a travel package." Two weeks later, "we need to see payment for your airline tickets." My response, "we did not insure our airline tickets." Two weeks later, "we need to see payment for your airline tickets anyway." And so it went. After 3 months, I ended up writing to the customer service manager (thanks to the company contacts on this forum!) to ask for some help with moving the process along. Once he told me the documents they needed in order to process the claim, I was able to gather the info and send it all at once rather than one document every two weeks. As soon as I showed them all the receipts that equaled the policy amount, they issued a check immediately.

Advice: if you need to file a claim, provide the insurance company with all receipts that make up the total amount for your policy. For instance, any pre-paid tickets, hotel reservations, airline reservations, etc. They say they only need proof of payment for the policy but they also need proof of each item that makes up for the total policy. Even though my claim had nothing to do with any of those items, the company needed proof that we, in fact, had made payments that totaled our insured policy.