ST. PETE BEACH, FL August 31, 2011 – Torn between buying a primary or secondary medical travel insurance plan? According to Squaremouth.com, a site for comparing and purchasing travel insurance, many travelers are faced with the same issue.
“Primary and secondary medical coverage causes much confusion among travelers purchasing travel insurance,” explains Sarah Byrne, Marketing Manager at Squaremouth. “Understanding the difference between the two gives travelers the confidence to choose the best plan for the best value.”
Be prepared to pay up-front
Many travelers misunderstand the meaning of primary and secondary medical coverage. Some incorrectly assume by purchasing a primary plan, the travel insurance provider will automatically pay up-front for any medical expenses while traveling.
“Many travel insurance companies have the ability to arrange payment with medical providers overseas, but it is the treating facility’s decision as to whether or not they wish to work with you. Be prepared to pay for your medical care upfront, and file a claim for reimbursement,” warns Suzanne Munson, Marketing Manager at Seven Corners, a travel insurance provider.
It’s important to understand that primary and secondary refers to the order in which a travel insurance claim can be filed with the travel insurance provider. Primary plans allow claims to be filed directly with the travel insurance provider, eliminating any involvement of a traveler’s health insurance company, while secondary plans require filing the claim with any existing insurance before filing with the travel insurance provider.
Medicare doesn’t cover overseas
Since medicare doesn’t provide coverage overseas, many travelers assume they can only buy a travel insurance policy with primary medical coverage. “Understanding they have the choice between primary or secondary medical coverage can prevent them from over spending on policies that offer less coverage,” says Chris Harvey, CEO of Squaremouth.
“In most cases, travelers will not see a difference in the payment process or coverage when buying a secondary medical plan versus a primary one,” explains Kathy Townend, Marketing Manager at CSA Travel Protection.
Although a secondary travel insurance plan can require more paperwork during the claims process, travelers usually find more coverage in secondary plans for the same value as a primary plan. However, if someone wants the convenience of only filing with one insurance company, Squaremouth recommends buying a primary travel insurance plan. Primary plans are available from travel insurance providers including Travel Guard, Travel Insured International, Travelex Insurance Services and USA Assist.
If a traveler’s health insurance will cover them overseas, Squaremouth recommends understating how much coverage is available. “If someone has a large deductible with their primary health care, they can purchase a secondary travel insurance plan to pick up any deductibles or out of pocket expenses,” says Byrne. “Secondary travel insurance plans are available with smaller amounts of medical and medical evacuation for this reason.”
Secondary Becomes Primary
In the event someone doesn’t have any health insurance, Squaremouth encourages them to look for travel insurance policies with the best coverage for the lowest price, regardless of primary or secondary coverage. Just like travelers with medicare, someone without primary health insurance has the option to choose between the two types of coverage.
“A secondary plan means that if no other coverage is available, the secondary plan becomes primary,” explains Bill Dismore, Executive Vice President of iTravelInsured, a travel insurance provider.
Whether a traveler decides to buy a primary or secondary medical travel insurance plan, it’s important to remember that travel insurance is “gap” coverage. “It was designed to fill in areas where a traveler may not have coverage, or their coverage is subject to deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses,” says Dismore. Choosing secondary coverage is a good way to save money on the premium without sacrificing a lot of coverage.
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