Are You Covered For Health Insurance When You Travel?

If you’re travelling for work, you’re covered, right? You’ve got a credit card, so you’re covered, right? Find out if you are covered and what to do if you get sick on a business trip.

covered for health insurance, a suitcase with women's clothing and belongings ready for travelphoto credit: shutterstock

Sick while travelling for work

Have credit card, will travel. That’s generally been my M.O. Until my luggage in my overhead was stolen.

I thought that as long as I had a credit card, I was safe and protected on all of my travels, especially for work. But I’ve since learned my lesson. And I now ask each time I travel, what I’m covered for and what I’m not.

So when I got the opportunity to ask a few travel insurance-related questions of Jacinthe Ladouceur, vice president and general manager, American Express Global Business Travel, I grabbed the opportunity almost as quick as the woman who stole my luggage. (I know it was a woman, because she left me with hers, which I immediately brought to the lost luggage counter, hoping I would see her there. She never showed. Sorry, I’m getting lost in my anger.) Here’s what Ladouceur had to say about travelling for work and what you need to know.

Before heading on a trip, what kinds of travel insurance would a credit card cover? Is it different for business travel?

“Many credit card companies offer free travel insurance as a perk of being a customer. However, it is important to check exactly what your provider covers before you find yourself in a time of need. Calling customer service or reading the fine print is the easiest way to get this information. Some of the common offerings include cancellation insurance, interruption protection for severe illness or weather and reimbursement of non-refundable expenses. Available, but less common, is insurance for labour disputes affecting travel if your job is unexpectedly terminated.”

Say, we get sick while travelling for work, what’s the first thing we should do?

“Business travel is often full of uncertainty, takes you away from your home life and often places you in high-pressure situations. The last thing you want is to be sick, but when it happens you will want to be prepared. Before departing, take preventative measures and prepare for the unexpected. If you’re prone to certain illnesses or health issues, make sure you bring along the appropriate remedies and medications. Depending where you are going, you will also want to research your destination for travel related health notices and consider consulting your health care provider. Work with your company to ensure your medical insurance is valid wherever you are travelling to as well.

“If something happens health-wise while you are away, alert your travel manager as soon as you can. Depending on your company’s policy, your travel manager can proactively step in and handle all your travel needs including flight changes, extending your hotel stay and other transportation.”

Does it matter where you’re travelling to, as far as being prepared for unexpected health situations?

“Different environments pose different health risks so it is important to be aware of what is at stake when travelling, especially the more exotic and diverse the destination. At American Express Global Business Travel, we recommend all travel managers and travellers research the destination and discuss the potential health risks together. This is critically important to those who have existing medical conditions and is part of a company’s duty of care obligation. You will also want to consult a travel medicine specialist at least a month before departure to ensure you have all the necessary immunizations. As different regions within countries carry different levels of risk for disease, share your itinerary with the specialist so you are treated accordingly.”

Anything else we should know about getting sick while travelling for work?

“To help travellers develop healthy habits in the fast-paced world of business travel, we share regular tips on The Atlas from American Express Global Business Travel about wellness when you are on the road.”