Today I took one baby step closer to moving to China. I bought travel insurance! Now some people might think that was silly, especially as the school we will be teaching at will provide us with health insurance while were in China, but I feel relieved. I’m not so worried about while we are gone, I bought it more for when we come back.
You see, since I have always worked part-time jobs as I run my own teeny tiny company, I have always had to pay for my own health insurance. Yes, it’s expensive but it is worth it. I can choose my own provider and specific coverage I need, and I never have to work for a company I hate just to pay for health insurance.
The only problem is that when you go it alone, as I have been doing for 5 years, you need to have continual coverage. As long as you have been covered, and can prove it, insurance companies can’t deny you when you try to switch to another company. That is really important as I found out last year ago when my provider more than doubled the monthly rate. I was easily able to switch without worrying other companies would deny me for some silly reason.
But to pay for monthly U.S. health insurance while I’m gone would be stupid, especially as it doesn’t cover me internationally. So, I spoke to my insurance agent, and he said that most U.S. based travel insurance company would count as continual coverage. So armed with that info, I started researching and this is what I learned:
Deciding what type of coverage you need
There are many different options when buying travel insurance so it is best to decide what you need before you start looking. In addition to paying medical bills, other popular features include:
- Emergency reunion
- Trip interruption
- Trip cancellation
- Evacuation for political upheaval
- Lost luggage
- Hospital stay
- Ambulance ride
- Identity Theft
- Airlift to better facilities
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment
- Return of mortal remains
Most reputable travel companies will offer most of those features automatically. Some also offer extreme sports coverage for an extra fee, but aside from possibly crossing the street (which is definitely dangerous) we won’t be doing any extreme sports in China.
I felt that the most important features for us were to have medical coverage in case of an emergency, and airlift to a better hospital. I’ve heard enough horror stories about China medical facilities to prefer a hospital in Shanghai that caters to westerns then a small medical center elsewhere.
Factoring in the Maximum Payout
The maximum payout is the absolute most money an insurance company will pay for your bills. Most travel insurance will offer you payout prices from $50,000 to two million and the higher the payout, the higher your rate. I admit this was a hard one to decide because we live in America where all the health costs are hugely inflated and I have no idea how much being airlifted in China would cost. Personally, I decided to bite the bullet and get the $2 million dollar coverage. Extreme? Probably, but this way I don’t have to worry.
This is another factor to lowering your insurance cost. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before the health insurance kicks in. (The higher your deductible, the lower your insurance rate.) Since I plan on not using this insurance (like most people I assume) I decided to go with the highest deductible, $2,500, which lowered my rate by $100 dollars.
While I spent a lot of time looking at different companies and learning about travel insurance, hopefully I won’t have to think about it again. I ended up with six month coverage with a two million dollar maximum for a cost less then one month of my American insurance (which makes my travel budget very happy) and I’m keeping up my continual coverage for the American insurance companies once we get back (which makes my practical side very happy). Plus, my to-do list just shrunk by one more item which means that our departure date must be getting closer, and it is high time for that.