Travel across the globe has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While many people are used to having their choice of vacation destinations, the coronavirus has ruined many plans and continues to limit your options. Several countries are completely closed to international travellers, while others are partially open and restrict travellers from certain nations. But one day, international travel will open back up, and when it does, you should be ready.
One of the risks of international travel, or any travel for that matter, is getting hurt in an accident. What do you do when you’re injured while away from home? Your first step is to get medical care wherever you are. If you’re in a big city or a common tourist destination, medical facilities will likely have worked with travellers before. Hopefully, you can gain access to an interpreter and not incur significant fees. If you are worried about the legal fees, fret not, some lawyers do offer various free legal information as well.
The next step is to determine if you have a legal claim against someone who negligently or maliciously caused you harm. For example, what if you were visiting Las Vegas and driving down the infamous strip when someone ran a red light, colliding with your rental vehicle? Or what happens if you were visiting New York City and slipped in a restaurant because of spilt food on the floor? You’ll need to talk with a local injury lawyer about your rights and legal options.
When you’re worried about paying for medical bills and, potentially, a lawyer, check out your travel insurance cover. Take a good look at what is covered, and then make a claim to use your policy benefits.
What Is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is a policy that travellers can purchase to pay for unexpected expenses that arise before or during a trip. What costs travel insurance covers depends largely on the policy.
What Does Travel Insurance Usually Cover?
Coverage commonly includes:
- Trip cancellations or interruptions, like nonrefundable airline tickets and hotel rooms;
- Lost or stolen luggage;
- Medical expenses;
- Emergency medical evacuation;
- Accidental death or dismemberment; and
- 24/7 travel assistance.
Not all policies cover all of these events. You might have purchased a trip cancellation policy or a medical benefits policy. Think of it as an a la carte version of insurance—you get what you pay for. After an accident, while travelling, get a copy of your insurance policy and read it carefully.
Check Your Homeowners or Renter’s Insurance Policy
Americans who pay for homeowners or renters insurance policies might have some coverage that can be applied to travel. It depends entirely on the policy. But if you are injured while abroad and suffer any damage or loss to your possessions, it never hurts to check. These policies often cover the costs if your property is damaged, destroyed, or stolen even when you’re away from home.
Check the Travel Insurance Through Your Credit Card
When you book your travel arrangements with a credit card, you might automatically have a certain level of travel insurance. You’ll have to check what your credit card offers. Some cards offer more coverage than others. Whether your card will pay for injury-related expenses depends on your specific policy and whether your injury falls into a policy exclusion.
Do Any of These Insurance Policies Cover Legal Fees?
Maybe. A big maybe. Travel insurance policies are quite limited in what they cover. Suppose you experienced personal injury in an accident. In that case, you might have coverage for medical expenses through your health insurance and travel insurance, whether you purchased it separately or provided it through your credit card.
Whether a travel insurance policy will cover legal fees depends entirely on the policy. It’s not as common as policies that cover trip interruptions, lost baggage, and medical costs. But some policies offer other services, like legal assistance.
If your policy offers legal services, it still might not cover paying for an injury attorney to pursue a claim against someone else. Instead, covered legal services might include representation if you’re accused of a crime or causing someone harm. For instance, if you’re found responsible for damaging another person or business’s property, the insurance might cover the legal costs of defending you or negotiating how much money you owe for the damage. Or another common travel insurance feature is legal assistance for issues related to travel.
Some travel insurance policies have a legal expenses provision. If you’re involved in an incident that requires you to retain a lawyer, whatever the reason, the policy will cover your legal expenses up to a certain amount. This is most helpful if you’re injured in an accident caused by someone else and you need to pursue compensation to cover all of the related expenses, like medical care, travel, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Preparing to Travel: Look for Insurance that Covers Legal Fees
One day, you’ll be free to travel the globe once more. And when that time comes, you should be confident in your insurance coverage. You should know what your current policies cover and whether you need to buy traveller’s insurance.
You also should have put a great deal of thought into what your travel insurance policy covers, which might differ depending on when and where you’re travelling. It’s always a good idea to look for whether a policy will cover the cost of legal assistance.
You never know what might happen. You could be blamed for something, wrongly accused of a crime, or injured by someone else’s negligence. You might be thrown into jail without any clue why because you don’t know the local laws or customs. In all these scenarios, you want a phone number you can call to say, “I need legal help,” and be connected with local legal representation. Even better, you want to know that all, or at least some, of the legal expenses will be covered.
There are other steps you can take to protect yourself legally when travelling abroad. First, do your research on local laws and customs. Second, register with your nation’s embassy or consulate. If your home nation knows you’re travelling to a foreign country, they’re better able to help if something goes wrong.