Overview: travel insurances
Different types of insurances
Travel health insurance
A hospital stay abroad can be expensive. Unlike in Austria, if you have an accident or become sick during a stay in a foreign country, especially outside Europe, you have to bear at least some of the incurred costs yourself.
The e-card is valid within the European Union, the EEA states and Switzerland. For travels to non EU states like the Balkans or Turkey, a sick leave certificate can be used. Especially in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, it can happen that only private ambulances and private hospitals are available that don't have a settlement with the social security of your home country. In this case, the same financial risk occurs as during journeys to countries that don't have an agreement with Austria.
Making a long-distance journey without a valid health insurance is risky: social security only refunds possible expenses based on Austrian tariffs. This can be expensive: A hospital stay in America can cost up to 700 euros per day (without treatment) - but you'll only get 170 euros refunded. In case of accidents or severe illness, the expenses you have to bear might become so high that they threaten your existence. A travel health insurance is supposed to close this gap as it bears occuring costs and handles organisational tasks for the patient.
The coverage of repatriation is an integral part of travel health insurances, which is particularly important in countries with poor healthcare. In case of emergency, an ambulance jet is used, otherwise the return transport passes (often without medical necessity) to the normal plane. Many insurance companies also cover the early transport of co-insured persons. Domestic sickness insurance companies don't pay for return transports.
Search and rescue costs
Costs for search and rescue are almost always covered by travel health insurances. If you spend your holidays in Austria, you should consider an additional insurance coverage for these costs - especially if you plan hiking and mountain tours!
Limitation of performances
If you suffer from a chronic disease or were in need of treatments before your departure, most travel health insurances usually only porivde their services to a limited extent. Pregnancy is often excluded as well and age limits are common.
Travel cancellation insurance
With this kind of insurance you avoid paying for a trip you're not making. If the trip is very expensive, if you booked far in advance and/or if many family members or friends travel with you, this insurance is a good investment: If you're unable to commence the trip, you have to pay anyways. The closer to the planned departure you cancel, the more expensive it gets - up to 80 percent of the price will be charged if you cancel on short notice. Cheap flight tickets often just expire without any refund.
If there are serious reasons which prevent you from commencing the trip, like severe illness or accidents in your family or serious damages to your house, a travel cancellation insurance bears the oncoming cancellation fees, either fully or except of 20 percent deductible.
The latter option is often included in the package price of tour operators - with an additional cancellation deductible insurance, you can also avoid these 20 percent. Note: If you're not concluding the cancellation insurance at the same time as you book the trip, it will only become effective after a period of two weeks.
Extended cancellation coverage
Modern insurance companies by now accept reasons for withdrawal or cancellation that weren't insurable until now, such as: unexpected termination or new employment relationship, submission of an action for divorce by the spouse of the insured person, failure to pass the final exam or class right before departure, sudden severe illness of dog, cat or horse.
Chronic diseases, already treated diseases or pregnancy are in most cases not accepted as a reason for cancellation.
If you plan a long-distance and/or expensive trip, a holiday discontinuation insurance / trip interruption insurance is worth considering as such events are often not covered by a cancellation insurance. This type of insurance covers expenses that occur if you terminate your journey early for serious reasons. Unused services (like accommodations) will be refunded and additional costs for the early departure will be covered.
This insurance provides protection for (break-in) theft and robbery of your luggage. Insuried is the luggage in general, everything you wear on your body and in your pockets. There is no subsitute for things you forgot, lost or left somewhere. Cash, tickets or art objects are also uninsured.
When you conduct an insurance, make sure that the insurance coverage equals the value of the items in question. It is advisable to study the fine print carefully as insurance companies have very different conditions.
Check the following points:
- Under what conditions and to what sums are jewelry, other valuables, camera, computer or sports equipment covered?
- What is not covered?
- Are items replaced at the reinstatement value (which is the exception) or at the present value? How is the value calculated?
- What factors reduce the insurance benefit?
Theft and other disasters at destination
Compensation will be made for loss, destruction and damage (e.g. due to theft, accident, burglary or natural disasters). However, baggage insurances order you to pay attention to your luggage, jewelry, watches, documents and valuables, computer and photographic equipment. Usually, insurance companies require that your items are in your personal custody. The seizure by third parties without overcoming an obstacle should not be possible.
Delay of arrival
The actual damage will be compensated. Each airline interprets those damages in their own way though, and obviously all of them try to pull out of the affair at low costs. So if you are traveling to a wedding with elaborate clothing, want to leave for an adventure trip, cruise or mountain tour, necessary purchases can be costly if your luggage does not arrive on time. Having additional insurance may save you a lot of money here. This also applies when the luggage gets lost completely – the legal compensation is only up to 1,150 euros per piece of luggage.
If you are rarely on vacation, the completion of a selective insurance is recommended. Are you traveling rather often and also spontaneously, you are probably better off with an annual travel insurance – you can conclude such insurances offered by your credit card provider and automobile association or with another insurance company. If you have a private health insurance, clarify in advance whether traveling abroad is insured.
Specialized in travel insurance policies are the European Travel Insurance (www.europaeische.at) and Allianz Global Assistance (former Mondial Assistance). Check out their websites for further information.
The most common credit card issuers in Austria, MasterCard and Visa, offer annual travel insurance coverage. This is fully applicable (e.g. in the travel medical insurance) for the cardholder. For an extra fee, you can increase the coverage. The only condition for the maintenance of travel health insurance coverage is to use the card within the last two or three months before the incident. “Diners” also bounds the Overseas Health Insurance to the use of the card, additional services will be offered only if the trip was paid for with the card. This is also the condition of American Express for any insurance benefits.
The safety passport and leisure safety pass of the ARBÖ or letter of protection of the ÖAMTC are valid for club members and their families, even if they are not using their own cars during their trip and regardless of whether they travel together or separately. Health insurance, repatriation and helicopter rescue are just some of the advantages included. (www.arboe.at; www.oeamtc.at).