Insurance When Volunteering Abroad

You should have insurance when traveling abroad.

There are two types of insurance available for volunteering trips broad – Travel Insurance and Medical Insurance. I strongly urge you to get both of them.

Travel Insurance covers you for travel-related costs like lost baggage, canceled flights, and travel delays.

Medical Insurance covers you for medical expenses like hospital visits, prescriptions, and emergency evacuation.

Where to Start

First – find out if one or more of the following entities will provide you with insurance coverage abroad:

  • Your insurance policy back home
  • The volunteering placement agency
  • The credit card used to book your flights
  • The airline(s)

If you do not get insurance from one or more of the above sources, then you will have to obtain a policy from an insurance company that specializes in travel and medical insurance abroad.

What to look for in a policy

Whether you use an existing policy or obtain a new one from a travel specialist insurance company – make sure your policy provides at least $50k in benefits and covers (at minimum) the following:

  • Trip Cancellation / Delays / Interruption
  • Baggage Delays or Loss
  • Medical Expenses
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation

Make sure to find out also about

  • Specific coverages
  • Pre-authorization requirements
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • 24 hour hotline
  • Deductibles, co-payments, and refund policies
  • Are payments made abroad – or reimbursed to you

Which company to choose

If you obtain a policy from a specialist insurance company – choose a company that provides one policy that covers both travel insurance and medical insurance.

The U.S. State Department has a list of companies that provides travel and medical insurance abroad.

For all of my trips abroad (including the very first one in 2000), I have used Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services Group (formerly MNUI). They are a recognized leader in international health. (Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with HCC in any way and don’t receive any commissions)

When you’re abroad

  • Have your insurance card, a claim form, and copy of the policy
  • Leave copies of all of the above with family back home
  • Keep copies of all paperwork like medical charts, prescriptions, boarding passes, and currency exchange receipt
  • Follow the claims-submission process meticulously