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Travel Insurance Changes

On September 3, 2017, all Israeli insurance companies came out with new travel policies in line with recent government legislation requiring insurance companies to offer a standard level of medical cover. This includes general extensions to the first level of cover: consultations with a doctor, emergency "first aid" dental treatment, additional hotel expenses for a partner in the event of hospitalization, and 3rd party liability cover.

The First Level of Coverage covers medical and hospitalization expenses in the event of an accident or illness. The maximum cover for such an event ranges between $1,500,000 to $5,000,000.
This first level of coverage covers medical events not connected to any pre-existing conditions.
A Second Level of Optional Coverage is offered at an additional premium.

This Additional Level of Coverage includes insuring baggage*, laptop computers and cellphones. People going skiing or participating in extreme sporting activities such as diving or river rafting need to purchase additional cover. Rescue and evacuation cover are available, depending on the type of trip and/or destination.

Pre-existing illness: The most important aspect of additional cover is insurance for a pre-existing illness or chronic medical condition. Second level of insurance is not available for people who have been hospitalized or have undergone diagnostic tests 3 months prior to travelling.

Travelers are required to declare any type of medical procedure or hospitalization within this time period and to submit medical documentation, including a letter from a family doctor stating your condition and confirming your ability to travel. In certain cases, coverage is granted; it's most important to get confirmation in writing from the insurance company.

The level of coverage for a pre-existing condition ranges from $300,000 - $500,000, depending on the insurance company.
Cancer patients undergoing treatment can get cover, but will need to complete a special form signed by their oncologist.

When taking out travel insurance, questions are asked regarding your health and regular medications. For example, a person taking medication for cholesterol only will not pay an increased premium. However, a person on medications for high blood pressure would pay more.

Who sells Travel Insurance: Approximately 40% of all travel policies in 2016 were sold through the Medical Healthcare Insurance partners, Clal Insurance company, representing Kupat Holim Maccabi and Clalit.
The most common mistake made when purchasing such insurance is assuming that the insurance company can see your medical history through the Medical Healthcare records.

This is a big mistake, as the call center for these insurance companies has absolutely no medical information whatsoever on the clients. In most cases, they will try to sell you additional insurance products that you don't need, such as personal accident policies, by claiming that the cover through the basic policy is insufficient. If you encounter this the next time you travel, go somewhere else for your insurance.
Claim Payments: Insurance companies will usually look for a reason to delay or withhold claim payments, so it is extremely important to declare your medical history when purchasing cover.

Once you have purchased travel insurance, you will receive a copy of the policy by email.
Make sure you have the necessary telephone numbers in the event of an emergency.
Some insurance companies provide an Israeli 24/7 emergency telephone number; others provide a North American or European number, depending on your destination.

In the case of lost or stolen baggage you will require a police report from the country where this occurred. You will not be able to report this at an Israeli police station upon your return.
Do not leave valuables in a locked car as the total cover for such an event is no more than $300 - $500. (The cover varies from company to company.)

Age Restrictions: Today most insurance companies do not have an age restriction and people can travel up to the age of 95.

Duration of Insurance: It is important to check that you get cover for the full duration of your planned trip. For example, an 86-year-old, without any pre-existing medical conditions, is eligible for 30 days coverage. The same 86-year-old taking medication for blood pressure is covered for only 15 days. This may change from company to company, so it's important to check others if one company does not solve your problem.

Pregnant Women: For pregnant women "pregnancy cover" is a must. This cover can only be purchased for travel up to week 32; the maximum age for cover for pregnant women is 42 years old.

Third Party Liability: All travel insurance policies have a 3rd party liability cover, covering damage caused through negligence. It's important to note that this section does not cover anything to do with motor car insurance when travelling abroad; it's therefore most important to take out full cover for body and property damage if you rent a car. It is also advisable to purchase cover for the deductible in the event of a claim. Car rental companies usually have a high deductible in the event of an accident or theft. For an additional premium on the rental car, you can have this section cancelled.

Pre-Purchase of Travel Insurance: Most insurance policies can be purchased 3 months prior to travelling. I recommend purchasing insurance as long as possible before your trip, as the trip cancellation clause in the event of an accident or illness is valid from the time of purchasing the insurance, not the date of leaving Israel. There is no additional premium for early purchase.

Cancellation Insurance: Another travel insurance option is "Cancellation Insurance". This can be purchased a year ahead of your trip and is good if you have booked an expensive trip/cruise with heavy cancellation fees. Additional expenses, such as hotel costs and tour packages can also be insured. This insurance must be taken out within 7 days of purchasing airline tickets. This particular policy, unlike the standard one, allows cancellation for any reason, not only due to an accident or illness.

Travel insurance is an important element of any trip. It is essential to buy your cover through an insurance broker or an experienced insurance provider who can answer all your questions.

* Some companies offer baggage coverage in the first level of coverage. Credit cards also offer this coverage.

Mark Joffe is from Joffe-Jankelowitz Insurance Agency Ltd. 



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Friday, 23 February 2024

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