Dream Adventure Vacation Can Turn Into Medical Bill Nightmare

Apr 24, 2012
Originally published on April 24, 2012 1:18 pm

If your idea of fun while traveling abroad involves taking part in sports like scuba diving or jumping from someplace high while attached to a bungee cord, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise if you get injured.

Chances are your domestic health plan won't pick up the tab for medical care overseas, and it almost certainly won't cover you if you're seriously hurt and need to be evacuated by air to a medical facility.

And even if you've thought ahead and bought a travel insurance plan insurance plan that provides medical coverage and evacuation services for vacationers, it generally won't pay for injuries related to so-called hazardous sports unless you buy a coverage rider to the plan or upgrade to a special plan.

"As you get into more extreme sports, some plans exclude coverage," says Carol Mueller, a vice president at travel insurer Travel Guard. "You can get an adventure travel upgrade for things like rock climbing, scuba or mountain climbing."

One of Travel Guard's plans covers cancellation of the pre-paid and nonrefundable costs of a trip, medical and emergency evacuation coverage and access to a 24/7 hotline for emergency travel and concierge services.

Prices vary by the age of the traveler and trip cost. Someone aged 35 to 59 on a trip that costs between $3,001 and $3,500 would pay $188, for example, for that kind of coverage.

What's considered hazardous varies by plan. Before buying an adventure travel plan, make sure that whatever sport you plan to take part in is listed in the policy, say experts. If it's not listed, chances are it's not covered. When in doubt, call the travel insurer and ask.

Copyright 2013 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/.