With tours to all-inclusive destinations growing, you need to be aware that travel insurance is not one of the commodities normally included—not comprehensive travel insurance, anyway.
In booking any tour to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cancun, Cuba, or elsewhere in the subtropics, you need to pay as much attention to getting your travel insurance as you would on any other trip. Most reliable tour operators will state, in their Terms and Conditions, that they are not responsible for supplemental health insurance and will urge you to get your own. But, there are many people who don’t read fine print.
As with cruises, “all-inclusives” cover many day-to-day necessities. But travel health insurance is highly specific and is based on your health status. It usually requires you to answer some medical questions—especially if you are in less-than-perfect health. If you regularly see a doctor for anything other than an annual check-up, take any medication, or have ever—EVER—had a serious medical condition or been hospitalized, you need to talk to an agent that specializes in travel insurance. Buying a policy that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions is not enough. And until travel agents are trained to sell travel insurance, their opinion is not enough either.
Make no mistake, having a medical emergency—even something as common as a gall bladder attack or kidney stones—on a subtropical island can be a lot more troublesome than if you experienced the same event at a resort in Texas, Arizona, or Florida, where you can be driven to the nearest hospital in a few minutes. If you have to be flown out to the nearest emergency room in the United States or back to Canada, the tour operator will not be responsible. And that can cost you $25,000 or more. Tour operators are not in the health care business. And without a travel insurer to help with the arrangements, it’s tough to know where to turn.
I hear many stories from tour patrons who have the wrong idea about what “all-inclusive” means, and are stunned to learn of the costs of handling a medical emergency—even a mild one—when dealing with a local clinic or hospital operators on their own.
Dealing with medical emergencies in a foreign country is no job for amateurs.