Understanding Insurance in Israel: Travel Insurance
By Danny Newman, Branch Manager – Ramat Beit Shemesh,Goldfus Insurance & Investments
“If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
These words of wisdom from the Australian Government’s SmartTraveller brochure say it plainly and clearly. Too many people prepare to jet set around the world, assuming everything is taken care of: window seat on the plane, hotel, car rental, and the checklist goes on.
However, all too often, the most crucial checklist item isn’t even added to the to-do list until days (sometimes minutes!) before the flight.
To travel responsibly is to travel with insurance. It shouldn’t be an afterthought; an inadequate (or nonexistent) travel insurance policy could leave you and your family members with the financial burden of covering high medical expenses.
In other words, a two week trip to Europe could end up costing thousands in medical bills.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance mainly covers medical expenses that result from unexpected illness or accidents while travelling abroad. Policies can be extended to cover pre-existing conditions, pregnancy and extreme sports. Another function of travel insurance is to cover lost or stolen personal items (up to a limit). If travelling with valuables such as jewelry or consumer electronics, these items should either be extended via the travel policy or for more comprehensive cover, added to your contents insurance under worldwide cover.
How do you purchase travel insurance?
In Israel, there are four main channels for purchasing travel insurance. Note that in order to issue a policy through an Israeli provider, the traveler must be registered with a Kupat Cholim or a private health insurance plan in Israel.
- Credit card companies offer free, yet limited travel insurance policies. Certain credit card accounts include basic cover for medical expenses and luggage. While it’s a benefit these companies offer, it’s often the lowest coverage offered by the participating insurance company. Before traveling, you’ll need to activate the policy; however it’s important to check the level of coverage with a company representative.
- Direct insurers offer policies that can be purchased through websites or over the phone. Similar to the credit card companies, what may seem a significant savings is often due to the limited policy. In the event of a claim, you’d need to contact the direct insurer and “battle out” the payment of the claim on your own.
- Kupot Cholim all offer travel insurance as an added service, which is outsourced to one of the Israeli insurance companies and provides a relatively comprehensive policy. The advantage of insuring through your Kupat Cholim is that they are already aware of any pre-existing conditions (which may result in a higher premium), potentially avoiding issues if a claim is required. Note that in the event of a claim, you would be required to deal directly with the insurance company.
- Insurance agencies usually offer travel insurance; those that do can offer competitive prices and plans. Another advantage is gaining a personal insurance agent to have someone representing you in the event of a claim. Think of it this way: if ever you need to make a claim related to travel, it’s typically a high-stress situation, where the policyholder is unable to communicate effectively with the insurance company. As soon as the agency is informed of the event, a representative will assist in handling the claim in an efficient and complete manner.
What else should I be aware of?
Pre-existing conditions are not automatically covered by the policy. To avoid complications at the time of a claim, declare your pre-existing conditions before purchasing the policy. With accurate information, an insurance company assesses whether they’ll cover completely, including the pre-existing condition. There are cases in which an insurance company will decline your request. Once the insurance company has accepted you for cover, they must pay in the event of a claim even if it’s related to or caused by the pre-existing condition.
It’s important to be aware that evacuations, rescues, medical flights and repatriation back to Israel are not automatically covered by all providers. Check in advance whether these scenarios are included in the policy; they’re worth adding.
The claims process may differ from provider to provider. It is recommended to familiarize yourself prior to travel with the claims process and documentation needed.
When travel planning, you choose the kind of trip you want; similarly, you have the option to purchase coverage based on the nature of your plans. There are several types of policies ranging from policies related to business travel, backpacking, and even frequent travelers. Be sure to discuss the nature of your trip with a travel insurance expert to ensure you’re adequately covered before your plane takes off.
Most of all, a good travel insurance policy should offer peace of mind.
Enjoy your trip!