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How Travel Insurance Saved My Life

By Raj Shah Email By Raj Shah
February 2024
How Travel Insurance Saved My Life

Imagine embarking on a dream vacation with friends, only to face an unforeseen medical emergency on the very first day. That’s what happened in Italy, where a stroke threatened to turn our vacation into a financial catastrophe. Little did I realize that our travel insurance would become the trip’s unsung hero.

The stroke landed me in the stroke unit of a major hospital for an unexpected ten-day stay in Palermo, Italy. A team of diligent doctors worked tirelessly, administering immediate treatments based on thorough tests. The pivotal moment occurred when, in the emergency room, we notified our travel insurance company. Almost magically, they took charge, reassuring the hospital of full medical coverage and urging them to proceed with all necessary stroke-related protocols.

The insurance company’s assurance paved the way for an extensive series of seven brain- and heartrelated tests to rule out any lingering damage. Miraculously, within 48 hours of the emergency, the stroke’s impact reversed, and my right side regained normal functionality. While I felt a marked improvement within three days, the hospital wisely kept me for further observation until all required tests, including 24 hours of heart monitoring, were completed.

To our relief, the entire ten-day hospital stay— including tests, lab work, and medications—was covered by our travel insurance. But the generosity didn’t stop there; it extended to covering fifteen days of our hotel stay in Palermo, all our meals, local transportation via Uber, and even providing two business class tickets from Palermo to Rome, Italy, and onward to Atlanta. To streamline the checkout process, the insurance company wired the estimated hospital charges beforehand.

As the owner of a local corporate travel agency, Universal Travel Advisors, LP, established in 1978, I underestimated the importance of a robust international travel policy. The $300 spent on our travel policy saved us thousands of dollars and spared us the logistical headache of dealing with the hospital’s
accounting department and billing formalities.

I strongly urge all international travelers to consider a comprehensive international travel policy. While several companies offer foreign travel insurance, it’s crucial to read the policy’s fine print thoroughly. Understanding what is covered, as well as what isn’t, can make all the difference in the world. Without travel insurance, you may find yourself navigating emergencies alone—whether it’s a lost suitcase or a medical evacuation. Purchasing your travel insurance promptly, ideally on the same day as your first trip deposit, may qualify you for a pre-existing medical condition waiver.

I opted for tour operator Gate1’s insurance policy through Arch Insurance (www.archgroup.com). This choice, made without much thought at the time of booking, turned out to be a game-changer. The coverage went beyond medical expenses, encompassing nonmedical costs such as accommodations for family members, meals, local transportation, and return business class airline tickets to the U.S.

Our unexpected medical ordeal highlighted the indispensable role of travel insurance. It not only offers financial security but also serves as a reliable companion in times of crisis. Don’t wait until it’s too late—invest in a solid international travel policy, and ensure your adventures are safeguarded, come what may. Buying travel insurance for international trips is crucial due to heightened risks and challenges. The increased distance from home, elevated trip expenses, and the complexities of handling emergencies abroad underscore the importance of protection.

Travel insurance benefits for international travel

1. Emergency Medical and Dental Benefits: Reimburses eligible medical expenses in the event of serious illness, injury, or medical conditions during travel.

Overseas healthcare providers often require upfront cash payments, and U.S. health insurance may not cover international medical expenses. Emergency medical benefits ensure reimbursement up to plan limits, easing concerns about payment during medical emergencies.

2. Emergency Transportation Benefits:

Covers pre-approved, medically necessary transportation in case of a medical emergency overseas.

Additional Coverage:

Travel insurance safeguards against potential financial and logistical challenges, providing peace of mind during international trips.

Guest columnist Raj Shah, a seasoned tax expert and an entrepreneur for five decades, is based in Sandy Springs, GA. He is the founder and president of Universal VAT Services (www.uvsvat.com). Phone: 770-496-0424. Email: raj@uvsvat.com
RajeshJyotishi100.jpg Moneywise is hosted by Rajesh Jyotishi with Shalin Financial Services, Inc.
Rajesh Jyotishi is a registered representative of Dempsey Lord Smith, LLC, which is a registered broker-dealer and a member of FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services are offered through Dempsey Lord Smith, LLC.
Rajesh has been a resident of Atlanta since 1975 and in the financial services industry since 1991. For questions, he can be reached at 770-884-8175 or at RJ@shalinfinancial.com.

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