Asia Travel Insurance – Don’t Forget the Credit Card

When traveling to Asia everyone recommends that you have travel insurance when you come, this is especially true for Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Trying to find the right travel insurance plan can be a daunting exercise, especially if you seek adventure in your holiday travel diet, like mountain trekking, parachuting, riding 50cc motorcycles, scuba diving, and traveling on small boats. Most holiday travel specific insurance plans will allow some limited adventure activities, like 14 days of scuba diving, but they put restrictions on it, and unless you are an expert, chances are good that you could end up in a loop hole, and be denied coverage.

In the US if you’re employed, and you have group insurance through work, the coverage will more often cover the high risk stuff that will not be covered by specialty travel insurance. The group work insurance companies can afford to do it, as the risk is spread over a much larger group, with more people in a class, and most will not be doing fun stuff! So keeping your regular insurance when traveling, if you can, is a good idea. Most employers, if you are on sabbatical, or just on a long vacation, will have a way for your insurance to continue if you pay the premiums. Talk to your human resources department about this, they love to talk about stuff like this. If you lose your job, you may also be able to continue the insurance under the Cobra laws, a very good thing for you to look at closely when you are telling the boss to stick it.

Most people in the dive industry will tell you that DAN Master Insurance or DAN Preferred plan, are the preferred scuba diving specific policies, as they will cover you regardless of the depth. These policies cover evacuations, recompression which can be up to 25thousand USD and DAN knows where the recompression chambers are, and the fastest way to get you there, safely. The DAN Insurance will also cover you while you are on vacation more than 100 miles from home, this includes their evacuation coverage, So you might consider getting it even, if you are not a hard core diver. DAN understands divers needs better than a regular insurance company, as they are a non profit organization dedicated to diver safety and dive research, and a dedicated 24 hour hotline and they can really be a lifesaver when you need the expert help as they have doctors on the end of the line that are used to talking to people in emergencies all over the world, and these DAN policies for the coverage they provide are very cheap for the value you will get. The DAN Insurance is meant as a secondary coverage, so keeping your work insurance valid is a good idea. I have heard of dive companies in the US hiring their instructors as independent contractors, and telling them to get the DAN Insurance, to avoid the costs of Workman’s Compensation afforded to workers covered under the Jones Act.

Credit Cards for insurance?

We have seen people refused time and again by the hospitals to accept travel insurance in South East Asia, especially Cambodia, Some of the major hospitals like Bumrangard in Bangkok will accept, but for most it is cash only, and then they will fill out the forms with you to get you reimbursed, by your insurance company, which as you can probably guess, will take a bit of time and who by the way will usually require that you provide the translation as well, so get it done where you are here, rather than bringing it home to a surprise translation bill as well. I suggest that everyone bring a credit card, with lots of limit, and a pin number. Cash is the best thing to have on your side in an emergency and a credit card is the safest way to carry it. Believe me, your best bet in an emergency is to get to Thailand or Singapore, and then back to your home country, or to some place that understands dive medicine, as quickly as possible, and not having enough ready cash can slow you down. Some credit cards have evacuation benefits if you are hurt while traveling, they might also have some legal help as well.

Some high end, and travel specialty credit cards, sometimes will have some coverage as well for other travel related stuff that can be useful, like getting your stuff replaced if it is ripped off, not a bad thing to review or consider when applying for a credit card.

At the end of the day the best insurance is not to get hurt, so please keep your brain switched on, and easy on the booze. A large number of accidents happen while under the influence, make sure that you are not one of them.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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