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The Benefits of Travel Insurance

Always travel with insurance. If you are a frequent or even occasional business traveler, make sure your secretary or your company's travel office knows this. If it's not company policy, pay for it yourself and apply for a reimbursement; it will almost always be approved.

American healthcare costs are the highest in the world, but medical care elsewhere is not necessarily much cheaper. A businessman in Hong Kong recently faced a US$45,000 bill for urgent bypass surgery while visiting "only for a few days". A man whose wife fell into a boiling mud pool in New Zealand faced combined hospital, hotel stay (while she recuperated) and repatriation costs exceeding US$37,000. And a man who took his family to Bali for a weekend break was lucky that he was able to afford the US$25,000 to rush his son to the nearest center with neurosurgical facilities to remove a blood clot after a head injury. His stateside medical insurance covered him for the hospital costs in Singapore, but did not pay for emergency aeromedical evacuation.

Always choose insurance which covers emergency evacuation and repatriation to your country of origin, not just to the nearest place with acceptable medical facilities. What is acceptable to the insurer's medical advisers may be far from acceptable to the patient on the receiving end. Few insurers are getting medical advice from doctors who have actually lived and worked in the country under discussion, as for the most part they live and work in developed countries. To state the obvious, "sounds good" is not the same as "is good".

It may be useful to ring the so-called 24-hour emergency number on your card outside normal business hours before you leave. Find out if you can call collect, if the person you talk to on duty at that hour can authorize expenditure or has to wait for your policy to be validated, and if the rules of your insurance restrict you to certain service providers or disallow claims unless the company is notified before expenses are incurred (which may be a difficult problem in a country without reliable telecommunications).

If you have any further questions about medical concerns in Indonesia, see the Ask the Experts.

We trust this information will assist you in making correct choices regarding your health and welfare. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for personalized advice from your medical adviser.

Our appreciation to International SOS, an AEA Company, who has contributed this article in response to a need for information on travel insurance by expatriates in Indonesia.