Once you purchase your visitors insurance policy online, you’ll receive an email with a confirmation notice, a receipt for your purchase, proof of insurance, and the plan’s description of coverage. Immediately, you (and/or the person traveling) should read the description of coverage to ensure that the plan is right for the traveler’s needs and the trip they are taking. Print the plan documents and have multiple copies - one to go with the traveler and another left with someone back home or at the destination.
Once you’ve purchased your visitors insurance plan - for yourself or for relatives - you may be wondering how it works. Is it like your health insurance plan in the U.S. or does it work differently? Here’s the information you need to know.
Seeking Medical Help
For medical emergencies in need of immediate attention, you can dial 911, which is the emergency number in the U.S. It is important to keep in mind that each country has its own emergency number to dial and travelers should know the emergency number to dial in the country they are visiting before embarking on their trip. In the U.S. you should not dial 911 unless it is a true medical emergency because depending on the response team that is sent to your aid, you may be financially responsible for their services. Call 911 only in serious, life-threatening medical emergencies.
When there is a medical situation, but it is not life threatening or critical, there are a couple of options: you can schedule an appointment with a doctor or go to an urgent care facility. With visitors insurance, you can visit any doctor or hospital of your choice, but for the highest benefits and easiest billing, it is recommended that you visit a facility within your policies PPO Network if applicable.
Once you are At the Doctor’s Office or Hospital
Upon receiving any treatments or services, you will want to show your visitors insurance ID card and provide all necessary information requested by the medical reception staff. The reception staff may then call the insurance company to verify your benefits. Depending on the billing practices of the provider you go to, they may ask you to pay your bill up front, or they may bill the insurance company directly. Either way you will have to go through the mandatory claims process so be sure to ask for any proof of payments or receipts after the fact.
Chronic Conditions, Checkups, and Routine Care are Not Covered
It’s important to understand that chronic conditions, regular checkups, and routine care are not covered under your visitors insurance plan. A visitors insurance plan is designed to handle sudden and unexpected illnesses and injuries, not routine medical care.
Filing a Claim
Regardless of whether you paid your medical bill upfront at the time of the treatment or service, or the provider billed the insurance company directly, you will still need to go through a mandatory claims process before you can receive any reimbursement or have any bills covered. This allows the insurance company to verify the insured’s personal information as well as the information regarding the treatments or services received. To file a claim you will need:
- The completed claim form
- Copies of all medical bills, receipts, and itemized services
- Copy of the insured's compete passport (all pages including visa page, picture page, entry and exit stamps)
- Copy of I-94 (if visiting the U.S.)
- Cover letter explaining any specific instructions or situations (if necessary)
The detailed instructions to file a claim are also included in your plan’s description of coverage and you can download the claim form directly online. You will want to submit your claim in a timely manner to avoid any discrepancies associated with a delay.
Payments and Reimbursement
The amount of time that it takes for an insurance company to evaluate a claim is on a case by case basis and can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks, or more depending on various factors. Because of this, it is important for the insured to remain proactive in checking on the status on their claim throughout the duration of the process. Once the insurance company verifies the information provided in the claim, they may issue a reimbursement or make payments to all appropriate parties for all approved and qualified claims as per the insurance plan.