Which Complication Insurance Is Right For You?

Christie Auyeung Travel 1 Comment

Are you planning to travel to another country for a medical procedure? Before you pack your bags, you’ll want to think about protecting yourself in case something goes wrong.

If you’ve done your research, picked an accredited physician and facility, and are committed to following your aftercare instructions, your risk of developing complications from surgery abroad is low. However, all surgical procedures carry some degree of risk. If you’re having surgery outside of the country, you can protect yourself against the unexpected by purchasing a complication insurance plan.

Navigating your options for travel insurance can be tricky, but don’t worry – we’re going to try to make it as simple as possible.

Let’s start by breaking down the basics.

Why purchase complication insurance?

The most important thing to understand is that if you are traveling abroad for the purpose of pre-planned medical treatment, your home country health insurance most likely will NOT cover any expenses that result from an unforeseen medical complication. That means that if anything goes wrong and you need additional medical treatment because of a medical complication from a pre-planned medical treatment abroad, your US or Canadian health insurance will NOT cover you. As a result, we advise that you purchase a complication insurance policy, which is specifically designed to protect individuals who are traveling internationally for the purpose of medical treatment.

What about “standard travel insurance” or “travel health insurance?”

Standard trip insurance and travel health insurance typically only cover expenses in the event of a travel accident. Usually, these policies will provide some coverage for loss of property (such as lost baggage), trip delays/cancellations (such as ticket change fees), and unforeseen medical emergencies (such as seeing a doctor if you unexpectedly get sick or injured abroad). But they won’t cover expenses from a medical complication resulting from a pre-planned procedure. Moreover, if you are traveling for the purpose of receiving medical treatment, these policies will not provide any kind of coverage to you at all. Pre-planned medical treatment is considered an exclusion, and in general, these policies will automatically be voided and exclude ALL coverage, even if it is not related to your medical procedure (like lost baggage).

If you are traveling for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment, standard travel insurance or travel health insurance plans most likely will not work for you.

Find the best complication insurance plan for you

Purchasing complication insurance allows you to have peace of mind while traveling abroad for a medical procedure—knowing that you’ll be covered in case anything goes wrong. MedRepublic works with two highly qualified companies.

We’ve created a brief overview of each company and a comparison chart of some of their offerings.

For more information, be sure to check out their websites and/or give them a call.

Custom Assurance Placements “Global Protection Solutions” Program

Custom Assurance Placements is based in South Carolina, and administers “Global Protective Solutions,” a medical complication and travel accident benefits and services program.

Global Protective Solutions and other international medical travel services are provided by Soter World Services (Guernsey) Trust.  The Trust is insured by Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London.

GPS provides coverage for:

  • Travel related accidents (such as an unexpected injury or illness) up to 30 days
  • Medical complications resulting from pre-planned medical procedures abroad up to 6 months
  • Almost any country of your choice
  • Travel companions

When you enroll in the program, you’ll also get additional benefits like travel safety and security alerts from the State Department, access to mail-order prescription drugs, time zone apps, and a fingerprint-secured card to electronically carry your medical records with you in your wallet.

Because Global Protective Solutions was specifically designed for to provide coverage in the event of an accident or medical complication, lost baggage, change fees for tickets, or other trip-related expenses or not covered.  However, if your delayed return home is caused by a longer stay due to a medical complication, expenses incurred for change fees, and other travel and accommodations costs would be covered. If you are looking to have general coverage for lost baggage/ticket change fees, we recommend looking into the travel benefits provided by major credit cards or a homeowner’s insurance program.

See the chart below for more information on the GPS program and how its offerings compare to those of the second company we work with, Novamar Insurance.

Novamar Medical Tourism Insurance (Latin America)

Novamar Insurance Mexico is an affiliate company of Novamar Insurance Group (based in the US), and their Medical Tourism Insurance program is underwritten by QBE, headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Like GPS, Novamar provides benefits for travel related accidents and medical complications from your pre-planned procedure abroad.

The key difference is that Novamar only provides coverage in Latin America.

If you return home and develop a medical complication related to your procedure, you will not be covered. Coverage for travel accidents lasts for 30 days, and coverage for medical complications lasts for 12 months in the country of medical treatment. Novamar differentiates itself from GPS by offering no deductible or coinsurance, as well as direct payment to most hospitals and doctors in Latin America instead of a reimbursement process. In contrast, GPS insurance DOES have a deductible/coinsurance related to travel accident/illness benefits. However, there is no deductible or coinsurance for medical complication benefits. There IS typically a reimbursement process, however, benefits can be “assigned” directly to a specific medical provider or hospital beforehand for direct payment or guarantee of payment as well.

See below for a chart comparing offerings from GPS and Novamar:

  Global Protective Solutions Novamar 
Headquarters South Carolina, United States (Guernsey, Channel Islands) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Eligibility Requirements
  • 0 to 70 years old
  • List of approved procedures included in application
  • Can request review if procedure is not on the list
  • 18 to 65 years old
  • Receiving medical or dental treatment at authorized hospitals at least 50km from place of residence.
Exclusions
  • Organ transplants
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Excludes treatments in the US and Canada, and outside Latin America• Any travel against the advice of a physician
  • Any travel against the advice of a physician
Price
  • Case-by-case basis, depends on procedure and how much coverage is desired.
  • Can range from $150 to $5000, median around $500
  • Case-by-case basis, depends on cost of procedure and desired length of coverage.
  • Can range from $100 to $5,000
Countries Covered Almost any country. You remain covered when you return home or travel to other countries after surgery. Mexico & Latin America. You are only covered in the country where you are treated.
Complication Coverage Duration 6 Months after surgery (in any country) Up to 12 Months after surgery (in country of medical treatment only)
Travel Accident Coverage Duration 30 Days 30 Days
Coverage Range $50,000 – $250,000 Up to $50,000
Travel Companion Coverage Can add on travel accident coverage for up to 4 (or more) people accompanying you N/A
Additional Medical or Surgical Expenses Due to a Medical Complication
  • $5,000-$25,000
  • No daily maximum or per diem limit
  • Up to $50,000
  • $250/additional consultation for 10 consults max
Additional Expenses for Travel, Meals and Accommodations
  • $5,000-$25,000
  • No daily maximum or limitations
  • Additional hospital room: $100/day for 10 days max
  • Additional travel expenses: $100/day for 10 days max
Accidental Death $50,000-$250,000 $1,000
Dependent Care/Family Coordination $5,000-$25,000 These are considered on a case-by-case basis to fall under “Additional Medical Expenses due to a Medical Complication”
Residence Modification $5,000-$25,000
Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation $5,000-$25,000
Severe Disfigurement $17,500-$87,500
Loss of Reproductive Function $17,500-$87,500
Total Permanent Disability Income $50,000-$250,000
Travel-Related Emergency Medical Coverage (Accident and Illness Not Related to Medical Complication) $25,000, in excess of $250 deductible
Emergency Medical Transportation $50,000
Repatriation of Mortal Remains $5,000 Included
Deductible or Coinsurance Subject to a $250 deductible for travel-related accidental injury or illness. No deductible for medical complications. N/A
Direct Payment to Hospitals and Doctors Exists through assignment of benefits/guarantee of payment to provider beforehand
24 Hour Assistance Services
Physical Presence Throughout Latin America N/A
Accommodation and Plane Ticket for Non-Scheduled Visit to Doctor Up to 12 Months Later $5,000-$25,000
Trip Cancellation, Delay or Travel Liability (Related to a Medical Complication) N/A
  • Trip delay: $100
  • Travel liability: $50,000
  • Trip cancellation: $400
Trip Cancellation, Delay or Travel Liability (Not Related to a Medical Complication) N/A
  • Trip delay: $100
  • Travel liability: $50,000
  • Trip cancellation: $400
Loss of Baggage N/A $100 after 12 hours

Researching and purchasing the right complication insurance takes additional time and effort, but it is well worth the investment. You can give yourself the peace of mind that you will be covered in case anything goes wrong, and focus your energy on preparing for your pre-planned procedure, recovering quickly, and enjoying your trip abroad. We know that researching and selecting the right complication insurance may seem complicated, but we’re here to help. For more information on complication insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Christie is a UChicago grad currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she enjoys tap dancing, learning to windsurf, and trying new foods.