Travel medical insurance – how to get better deals. Usually and in general travel emergency insurance is more expensive when purchased in North America before going on a trip – let’s say to Europe. I suspect that this is caused by high third party liability provisions, when something goes wrong (in other words legal action). For my international travels I purchased all my insurances online. They are large insurers, but come with a price. When in Europe and an insurance case arises while out of country I experienced the biggest frustration not so much with the insurance coverage, but with the inability to contact the emergency phone numbers for such cases. And this has nothing to do with the mobile phone technology used to get through to wherever these insurances have their headquarters (usually somewhere in USA, Canada or out in virtual space). When an emergency arises and you are somewhere in Europe or in North Africa, or (God forbid in Timbouktou) and must rely on a mobile phone, no such luck to get through to an insurance who – in the worst case – gave you an international “call collect” number. Examples: Travel Guard. I had bought expensive coverage. When in Berlin on one occasion I needed to contact their emergency number. Of course at a time when they (in that case in Canada) are reachable during their office hours. It should be noted at this point, that when anywhere in Europe and renting a temporary vacation home the only phone one has is a mobile (cell) phone, even if you rent for several months. That is expensive in terms of air time. The person at that Travel Guard insurance who is on call took his sweet time to respond. In fact this particular incident I never got anybody to answer my call, only some music playing. That cost me 20. Forget it ! Subsequently cancelled this  insurance, requesting a full refund. Then bought an insurance in Germany for the remaining several months stay, same or better coverage, for 130 (instead of the initial C$2,000).  For several trips within Europe and North Africa I then bought a travel emergency medical insurance with a trip package (examples: one month Tunisia, one month Morocco), insurance per one month trip only around 100. Another example: Pacific Blue Cross, head quartered Vancouver, BC. Gives you a collect number to call (within 72 hours of an emergency). Some online travel insurances provide an “international toll free number”. Do not expect to be operational in any country where the mobile phone provider has overriding airtime authority. Check out this one, sold in North America and offering world-wide toll free numbers [ http://infomarket.avoxi.com/International-Toll-Free-Numbers.html? ]. This is a ‘cloud communications’ provider. Of course, enough customers may fall for this, order this package, subscribe to it, then arrive overseas and discover the pitfalls. Remember, CEO and founder David Wise is in South Carolina, possibly never visited any country to test his system for functionality. When in Europe a visitor must abide to the federal or local rules of mobile providers of the country visited. International toll free numbers work in North America and Mexico. Worst contact phone number that any business or your Bank can give you prior to travel are “call collect” numbers. By the time I am through an automated answering system (in Canada) my mobile phone service times out.

My advice: Buy travel medical emergency insurance from within the country you visit. Or else, do not buy any, pay a doctor or clinic, usually way cheaper than anywhere in North America. I never had any problems with any European travel insurance provider. You can usually trust them.

 

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