Travel health insurance: detailed instructions

    People go on vacation, anticipating warm beaches, a clear sea and great memories. The vacation is short, and I want to spend it perfectly, so that nothing would overshadow it. That is why a reasonable option would be to insure against unforeseen problems, so as not to get a bill of several thousand dollars from the local hospital, which will treat you for fever after a local mosquito bite. The cost of the insurance policy will be ten times lower than even the simplest doctor's appointment for a cold.

    I want to try to summarize everything that a tourist should know about health insurance before traveling abroad, and compose something like a detailed memo:

    • How much insurance is required and how can you save.
    • What varieties of insurance are there at all.
    • What to do if you drank from the bottom of your heart and decided to parachute in Cambodia.
    • How not to buy the repatriation of the remains instead of normal insurance.

    Compulsory insurance

    Those who traveled to Europe on vacation or on business know that one of the conditions for issuing a visa to the Schengen area is the availability of medical insurance. In addition, now all travel companies will insure you in a more or less voluntary-compulsory order when you purchase a package tour from them. However, one can often hear that without insurance you will not even be allowed out of the country.

    This is actually not the case. According to the latest amendments to the Law on the Organization of Insurance in the Russian Federation , you are not required to have medical insurance. Moreover, part of the amendments directly describes their voluntariness:
    The tour operator (travel agent) is obliged to explain to the tourist under his personal signature that in case of refusal to conclude a voluntary insurance contract, the costs of providing medical care in the emergency and urgent forms in the country of temporary residence are borne by the tourist himself, and the costs of returning the body (remains) are borne by those interested in the return of the body (the remains).

    Another thing is that not all countries will be allowed to enter without insurance, as, for example, in the already mentioned Schengen zone. But in the same Turkey or Georgia you will have enough of an ordinary passport. You can refuse the tour operator insurance, but most likely no one will give you a discount for this. Here I would like to make a reservation that “necessary” and “necessary” are very different things. I sincerely believe that the strategy “I’m lucky, I’m not going to be ill” is extremely unsuccessful and often ends very sadly.

    I was told a story about how a couple traveled to Southeast Asia, saving on insurance. Just scored more pills for diarrhea, a handful of antibiotics and calmed down. One fine day, the husband steps on a sea urchin. If someone is not in the know, then this is a rather evil species of echinoderms, often poisonous. As a result, several dozens of thin and fragile calcareous needles went deep into the delicate tissues of the foot. Friends tried to pull themselves out, but naturally, nothing came of it. The leg is swollen. After suffering, they decided to call local doctors.

    A team of strong men arrived with a hefty stick and tweezers, and began to pound it on the heel with inspiration. After fifteen minutes of this execution, the tips of the needles appeared from the foot, which they quickly removed with tweezers. As a result, instead of a normal rest, they were beaten with a wooden stick for a thousand dollars.

    Anything happens. It is enough for insurance to save you once for dozens of trips, so that you understand how right you were to take it.

    Do not confuse with VHI

    Many of us have a VHI policy. Own or from the employer - it does not matter. With him, we can safely come to a commercial clinic, complain of abdominal pain and after an hour observe the rich inner world of our small intestines on the monitor of the endoscope. All this will be covered by insurance.

    CDM insurance is different. It is intended to cover the risks of tourist financial expenses arising from the provision of emergency and emergency care. For example, you broke your leg by falling off a cliff while snowboarding. Your insurance will cover both the search and rescue team with the St. Bernards and the medical helicopter with delivery to the nearest hospital. Or delivery of what remains after the fall to the homeland, which is also very expensive.

    But at the same time, unlike VHI, it will not cover exacerbations of chronic diseases that do not pose an immediate threat to life. For example, problems with the thyroid gland or arthritis of the knee joint. That is, if you have an exacerbation of gastritis, you will have to pay for it at your own expense. But if you slip in the soul of the hotel and chop the sink with your head, then you will be sewn up under insurance.

    However, some insurance companies may offer more expensive wide-coverage insurance. There, the line with VHI is already becoming very thin. For example, a policy for a trip to Germany for a week will cost about 2,300 rubles. This amount will include medical expenses of up to € 100,000, search and rescue measures of € 100,000, and even the cost of preterm delivery in a German clinic and the cost of caring for a newborn. So if you are at risk, are pregnant or in principle want to be sure of full coverage, consider more expensive options.

    Standard insurance limits are stipulated by the requirement of foreign countries for the minimum provision of tourists. Usually this is 30,000 €, or 2,000,000 rubles. The maximum coverage of ordinary insurance is € 100,000. Above only in rare cases of non-public VIP tariffs.

    If you think that € 30,000 is a lot, take your time. In the same Germany, after a traffic accident, several fire engines with hydraulic scissors may well arrive, which they will cheerfully disassemble the affected vehicles into parts. In a few minutes, the ADAC Yellow Angel medical helicopter will land there and take the victim to the hospital. All this rescue operation can easily translate into the account for those same 30 thousand. Without insurance, it will be sad.

    CDM insurance - only for emergency cases when you need to be rescued. If you need a wider coverage including pregnancy - take expensive packages.

    Coverage area

    The VZR policy has a very important parameter - the territory on which it operates. The insurance company not only covers you in a difficult situation, but also wants to earn reasonable money. Financial risks in different countries can be very different, which means that the price of the policy will also vary.

    Insurance can only apply to the Schengen area. Then it will be cheaper than world coverage. But if you decide to travel from France to the UK, then you will bear all the financial risks yourself. Worldwide insurance is more expensive and still has exceptions. As a rule, these are countries where local medicine is very expensive. Most often these are the USA, Canada, Australia and, suddenly, Thailand. He got on these lists due to the fact that in recent times there have been frequent cases of inadequate overpricing in the treatment of tourists. The hospital can see that there is an insured foreigner in front of her and decide to simply add a zero to the bill.

    Few people know, but insurance companies also often sell insurance for tourists traveling in Russia. They cost a penny, but much nicer from the point of view of service, dispatcher and other details compared to the compulsory medical insurance. Just keep them in mind.

    How to choose an insurance company

    The main supervisor for insurance companies is the Central Bank. All reports are published on his website in an open form. First of all, we are interested in one very important parameter - the ratio of money collected for insurance to the total amount of payments for insured events. As you know, if a company raised 500 million and paid 4, then this is not at all because its customers are so lucky. It is better to look at more expensive insurance companies, but with greater customer loyalty.

    Good insurance not only collects money, but also pays them.

    Who to call, if that

    The insurance company itself solves only financial issues. Her task is to correctly balance the risks of potential losses and the cost of the insurance policy. Assistance companies are responsible for finding the right hospital, approvals, and providing letters of guarantee. They are paired with insurance. It is at their call center that you will call if you need help.

    A lot depends on a good assistance company. In a situation where the local language is a little more exotic than English, and you have a temperature of 39 ° C, you really need a person who can help get medical help. Ideally, if the company has local phones that can be used to get through inexpensively, for example, from a local SIM card. Assistant companies that save on employees may not have translators in the native language of your country of residence. And also the call center can be overloaded, and you risk spending the last money on expensive international calls to joyful music and "your call is very important to us."

    Good assistant companies, as a rule, have been operating in the market for several decades. As a rule, companies of European descent with branches around the world have proven themselves best. Please note that our local companies also like to be called in the style of “World Health Assistance Group”, but at the same time they have a registered capital of 10,000 to 4,000,000 rubles, which is less than the coverage amount even for one policy.

    Be sure to check the reviews on travel forums. The most unpleasant thing is the lack of contracts for the assistant company with hospitals in the place where you are going. This means that there will be no guarantee letter, and you will have to pay for everything yourself. Money can be returned only upon return.

    In an emergency, if you tried but were unable to contact the insurance, give up to your local doctors. Health and life are more important. Just save all the documents:

    1. A medical statement indicating the diagnosis, the results of diagnostic tests and the prescribed treatment.
    2. Invoice and documents confirming payment.
    3. Checks for purchased medicines.

    If the case is insurance, then the company must reimburse you for all expenses. Another thing is that you will have to pay in this situation from your own pocket, since the hospital will not receive a letter of guarantee from your insurance company.

    Choose not only an insurance company, but also an assistant company with a good reputation. If life threatens, heal, not wait. Be prepared for the fact that the money will be returned upon arrival.

    Small print restrictions

    In fact, there is no small print there, you just have to read everything very carefully when choosing insurance. This is, in principle, a very good practice for any document that you sign.

    Tour operator insurance is usually the cheapest. A characteristic symptom is the presence of a franchise: the amount of several tens of dollars that you need to spend to activate insurance. In more or less normal franchises, there is usually no deductible. Travel agency saves to comply with the requirements of the regulator, and includes the cheapest option. Between themselves, insurers call such proposals "insurance for the repatriation of the remains." They have maximum limitations and do not cover the most expensive cases.

    I know an example when a family went on vacation to Italy. The man had appendicitis right in the middle of the bus tour. He was urgently hospitalized, but then it turned out that the operation was not included in insurance coverage. As a result, he was lying in the ward, he was regularly anesthetized, but the operation was not done for several days, while his relatives frantically collected and transferred several thousand euros to him.

    The classic exception to insurance is drinking. And it’s not an injury due to the fact that you used a couple of bottles of moonshine from sweet potato, and then fell into the river. No, in principle, the presence of alcohol in the blood most often immediately cancels the insurance if it pops up. Even if you drank a glass of champagne in the morning, and in the evening got into an accident by public transport. Nevertheless, there are insurance companies with policies that cover even alcohol and pregnancy. They only cost three times more expensive, and the payment there will be 5,000 € instead of 100,000 € if the insured event occurred due to intoxication, and not just like that.

    Other frequent exceptions are driving vehicles and extreme sports. In fact, often the insurance company can define in the contract as extreme entertainment everything except lying on a deck chair. Be careful! Most companies offer three gradations:

    1. Calm rest - here you can ride rides, swim in the pool and just relax quietly and culturally.
    2. Sports - there will already be equestrian sports, figure skating, snowboarding on equipped tracks and the like.
    3. Extreme sports - the most expensive insurance with maximum ratios. But it includes such things as mountain climbing, descent into the caves, ice diving and safari on the lion.

    The third category is usually made out with an individual calculation of the cost, depending on the degree of the madness that you decide to do.

    Speaking of motorcycles. They, like scooters, are very popular at the box office among tourists in SEA. Everything goes fine until you suddenly crash into a cow or are hit by another motorcyclist of the same kind. After hospitalization, it may suddenly turn out that the tourist does not have a category A driver’s license, which will automatically invalidate the insurance when driving. In general, if you plan to cross Europe on your Harley-Davidson Electa Glide, take care of motorcycle insurance coverage.

    A moment of care for our travelers

    We decided to save our customers from headaches and immediately offer insurance when buying a ticket. By the way, mind you, no "dark patterns." By default, we do not impose anything. But, if suddenly you decide to additionally insure your risks, then it will be enough for you to make one click. For a very modest amount, the insured will be able to get a refund if something happens between the dates of departure and return. Moreover, insurance is valid not only in Russia and the CIS, but even in Mongolia, if you suddenly get there in search of the right koumiss.

    Exploitation of vulnerabilities in the policy

    Any document has potential holes and inaccuracies. It can be used in both directions. Recently, insurance companies have been very wary of our specialists who are leaving to freelance to the warm beaches of Thailand. In order not to spend money on more expensive local insurance, they buy a regular tourist policy , but actually live in another country. Formally, this is not forbidden, but the real risks of the insurance are different. Many companies began to introduce restrictions such as a policy validity period of one year, but no more than 90 consecutive days. That is, simply continuously living on it will not work. But they began to bypass this by leaving and entering the country every 80–85 days.

    Also among these constantly resident "tourists", the option of buying an insurance policy online is popular after everything has happened. The insured calls the insurance company and immediately asks him to arrange medical care for him. As a result, insurance companies began to introduce a temporary deductible: the policy is activated only five days after the purchase, if it is bought during the trip, and not in Russia.

    Such schemes, with their formal legality, do not cause insurance enthusiasm, and it will be as faulty as possible on any trifle in payments. So think carefully whether you need it.


    I would like to separately thank Denis Kotov, head of the Green Card company, for valuable advice on insurance.

    Have a nice vacation! Take care of yourself!

    Other posts about tours: unusual tourism , about yachts , about vaccinations , about going on tours .

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