Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How To Squeeze Your Travel Insurance Company

For many people planning any vacation, the idea to purchase medical insurance has gradually become more common place. Today, you can virtually buy medical insurance as part of any online or over the counter travel service. But let's say that you already have the insurance, is it really that easy to access? Well that really depends on your provider.

The bottom line on the insurance company's end is this: Based on a calculated probability of client injury or illness, they take a small amount from a bunch of gullible morons that leaves them laughing all the way to the bank while having to pay out a few clients a significantly smaller amount than the total income. All that money that they take from you is actually reinvested into high interest investment portfolios and increases in value. You get none of that despite the fact that you are technically the source of that investment. The insurance companies are essentially playing with the medical security you are paying for. 

But even if these companies get to the point of having to pay you out, it's not as easy as simply calling them and telling them of your malaise. They have entire regulatory structures and investigative teams which make sure that they pay out only under certain circumstances. This seems understandable from a business perspective, but you can see where there is room for this to turn into a double edged sword. At the end of the day, even if you are in need of medical attention overseas, there is no guarantee your insurance will cover your fees.

So how can you, the smart traveler, avoid this uncertainty? LEVERAGE. The way to put these corporate fat cats in the hot seat is to make yourself a more powerful stakeholder in the insurance contractWhen you get a life insurance plan with the same company they become liable not only to pay out if you need medical attention, but they become liable for potentially much much more if they don't get you the best medical attention and pay for it. 

Case and point: I was infected with malaria in Vietnam. The western medical clinic I was in refused to give me treatment until my insurance came through and they were unreceptive. The bill for the hospital quickly climbed to over 3000$ and my insurance still did not come through. Then, my situation got much worse. I was in dire straits by that time as the malaria had penetrated into my liver and lungs.

Luckily, I had insured myself for a cool 500,000 dollars (all deliverable to my next-of-kin). As soon the insurance got word that my condition was bad enough to warrant a massive expenditure a private jet was sent to pick me up from Saigon. Some big head of the medical travel department  from the Bangkok Diplomatic Hospital came to my rescue with a wad of 4000 US dollars in his hand. He gave it to the Saigon western clinic that was trying to extort me for money I didn't have and wheeled my half conscious feverish body onto an airfield in Saigon. He offered to take me to the best medical facilities of MY CHOICE in Asia (Bangkok or Singapore). At the end of it all my fees came to a total of 80,000$ including the 15,000 dollar flight and ten days of hospitalization in a penthouse of a hospital room. My total expenses on the year of premium medical insurance was 800 dollars. Get the point? 

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