AARP is a nonprofit organization that advocates on issues affecting adults over 50 years old. With over 38 million members, AARP offers several insurance products and services, including international travel insurance.
International travel insurance provides coverage for medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and other issues that can arise when traveling overseas. It gives travelers peace of mind in case of unexpected problems or emergencies in another country. Travel insurance is especially important for older travelers who are more likely to experience health problems.
Travelers can purchase international insurance directly from insurance providers or as an add-on to trips booked through tour companies and cruise lines. Policies vary, so it’s important to understand exactly what is and isn’t covered before buying a plan. This article will examine if and what types of international travel insurance AARP offers to its members.
Does AARP Offer International Travel Insurance?
No, AARP does not currently offer international travel insurance. However, AARP does offer several other types of insurance, including:
- Medicare supplemental insurance – Helps pay Medicare copays, deductibles, and coinsurance costs.
- Dental insurance – Covers preventive, basic, and major dental services.
- Vision insurance – Covers eye exams, glasses, contacts, and other vision care.
- Prescription drug plans – Helps pay prescription medication costs.
- Life insurance – Provides a cash payout to beneficiaries when the policyholder passes away.
- Long-term care insurance – Covers nursing home, assisted living, and in-home care costs.
While AARP has a range of insurance offerings for its members, international travel medical insurance is not one of them at this time. Those needing coverage for overseas trips will need to look to other insurance providers for this type of policy.
Types of International Travel Insurance
International travel insurance typically comes in three main types:
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
This type of policy reimburses you if you need to cancel your trip before departure or cut it short while you’re away. It covers situations outside of your control, like:
- Illness, injury or death of you, a family member or travel companion
- Extreme weather events or natural disasters
- Mechanical breakdown of your transportation
- Terrorist attack or other safety concerns at your destination
Trip cancellation insurance refunds any prepaid, non-refundable costs like hotels, flights and tours if you can’t take the trip. Trip interruption insurance covers the extra costs to get home if you need to cut your trip short.
Medical Expense Insurance
Medical expense insurance covers emergency medical treatment you may need while traveling overseas. It reimburses costs like:
- Doctor and hospital visits
- Prescription drugs
- Ambulance transportation
- Emergency dental care
Most plans include 24/7 travel assistance services to help you find medical providers and facilities in your destination. They can also arrange medical evacuations or repatriation of remains if necessary.
Without this coverage, you’d be responsible for paying exceptionally high medical bills abroad out of pocket. Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the U.S.
Evacuation insurance covers the substantial costs of getting you out of an emergency situation abroad and back home. This includes:
- Medical evacuations if you become critically ill or injured
- Transport home after recuperation and stabilization
- Security evacuations due to political unrest, natural disasters or other unsafe conditions
Most standard evacuation policies have coverage limits around $100,000. You can also purchase additional coverage if undertaking risky adventures like mountain climbing.
Having an evacuation policy provides critical protection and peace of mind when traveling to remote or unstable regions abroad.
Who Needs International Travel Insurance?
Frequent international travelers often find that an annual international travel insurance policy is worthwhile. Since they travel abroad multiple times per year, the cost of the annual policy is less than buying single trip policies each time. Frequent travelers also appreciate the continuity of coverage and not having to re-apply before every trip.
Travelers with pre-existing medical conditions have the most to gain from international travel insurance. Most policies exclude or limit coverage for pre-existing conditions. But some plans provide medical coverage abroad for pre-existing conditions, which can be a life-saver for those with chronic illnesses or disabilities. This gives peace of mind in case medical care is needed during the trip.
Adventurous travelers headed to remote regions where medical facilities are scarce specifically need international travel insurance with emergency medical evacuation coverage. If injured or in a life-threatening situation in a remote area, emergency evacuation provides transportation to the nearest high-quality medical facility, which could be in another country. For adventurers far from home, this coverage can be priceless.
Limitations of International Travel Insurance
International travel insurance has some key limitations to be aware of:
- Pre-existing conditions may not be covered – Most travel insurance plans will not cover medical expenses related to pre-existing medical conditions. This is an important limitation, as having a pre-existing condition can significantly increase costs if you need medical treatment abroad. Always disclose pre-existing conditions when applying for coverage.
- High risk activities may be excluded – Adventure sports and other high risk activities are often excluded from standard travel insurance plans. If you plan to participate in risky hobbies like scuba diving, rock climbing, etc., you’ll likely need to purchase a special add-on policy or look for a high risk travel insurance plan.
- Expensive plans with high deductibles – Comprehensive international travel medical insurance can be quite expensive, especially for older travelers. Deductibles of $250-$500 are common. While benefits may be robust, you’ll pay a premium price and still need to cover your deductible if you make a claim.
Alternatives to International Travel Insurance
While international travel insurance can provide valuable protection, there are some alternatives to consider as well. Here are a few options:
Credit Card Coverage
Some credit cards provide limited travel insurance benefits when you purchase flights or other trip expenses on the card. For example, they may include trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and emergency medical coverage. However, the benefits are usually secondary to your own health insurance and may only provide a few thousand dollars in coverage. Be sure to check your credit card terms to see what is included.
U.S. embassies can provide certain assistance to American citizens traveling abroad if an emergency occurs. For example, they can help you get funds transferred from home or a temporary replacement passport if yours is lost or stolen. However, embassies don’t offer medical evacuation services or trip cancellation/interruption benefits. So you’ll still want additional coverage.
Travel Assistance Companies
There are travel assistance companies like OnCall International that you can access for help coordinating medical care, translations services, legal referrals, and other emergency services internationally. However, they don’t provide insurance coverage or reimbursement. So you’d need to pay any medical, transportation, or other bills yourself.
While these alternatives can provide some assistance, getting comprehensive international travel insurance is still recommended to protect against costly medical emergencies, evacuations, canceled trips, and other key benefits. The peace of mind is worth it!
Tips for Buying International Travel Insurance
When purchasing international travel insurance, it’s important to carefully evaluate your options to find adequate coverage. Here are some tips:
- Read policy details carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what is and isn’t covered, including any exclusions or limitations. Pay close attention to the fine print.
- Check coverage amounts and deductibles. Policies can vary widely in how much they’ll pay out if you need to make a claim. Make sure the coverage limits are sufficient for your needs. Also look at the deductible, which is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.
- Look for reputable providers. Purchase international travel insurance from established, trusted insurance companies. Read reviews and check ratings to find a provider known for good customer service and claims payment. Avoid questionable companies or policies.
- Consider evacuation/repatriation coverage. Many policies include emergency medical evacuation back to your home country if needed. This can be extremely expensive without insurance.
- Compare trip cancellation/interruption provisions. If your trip gets cancelled or cut short, will the policy adequately cover your prepaid, non-refundable costs?
- Know when to buy. Purchase international travel insurance as soon as you book your trip to get full cancellation/interruption coverage. You can typically buy up until you depart.
- Understand COVID-19 coverage. Many policies exclude pandemics. Look for ones that cover COVID-19 medical treatment/quarantine costs.
- Check geographic restrictions. Some policies limit where they’ll provide coverage, especially with high-risk regions. Make sure the destination(s) you’re traveling to are included.
Carefully evaluating international travel insurance will help ensure you get comprehensive, affordable coverage for your trip. Protect yourself against unexpected costs by finding the right policy.
AARP does not directly offer international travel insurance policies. However, AARP members can purchase travel insurance through AARP’s partner providers like Generali Global Assistance, Allianz Global Assistance, and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
To recap, international travel insurance provides important financial protection and assistance services when traveling abroad. Key benefits include emergency medical coverage, trip cancellation coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, and 24/7 travel assistance. Those with pre-existing medical conditions, expensive trips planned, or concerns about potential trip disruptions should strongly consider purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance policy.
While AARP doesn’t sell travel insurance directly, members can easily find and compare plans on AARP’s website from their partner insurers. Be sure to read the fine print to understand exactly what’s covered and what’s not. Look for plans that match your trip details, health status, and risk concerns. With an appropriate travel insurance policy, you can travel internationally with greater peace of mind.