Prepare for takeoff: travel and medical assistance during the busiest time of year

December 26, 2023

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Whether you’re on a business trip or venturing afar during the holiday season to visit family or explore somewhere new, now is one of the busiest times of year to travel. 

Travel claims are on the rise in 2023; there’s always a chance that your trip could be affected by an unexpected delay, unforeseen event, or medical emergency. As experts in helping individuals and groups sort through these issues, we know that preparation and a solid understanding of policy and assistance resources can make a big difference in how you care for yourself or a companion. 

Different travelers, different journeys: how various groups leverage travel and medical assistance 

Not every person travels the same way; groups have specific needs when it comes to travel and medical assistance, as do individuals. Insurance policies differ as well. As a service provider, having a global medical network and claims processing expertise and experience can help meet precise needs and tailor offerings to accommodate. This includes virtually any type of traveler today including leisure, adventure and business, as well as international students, groups, workers covered by the Defense Base Act (DBA), and more. 

Corporate travelers and employers: Employers and their employees prefer travel and medical assistance that is self-service, personalized and on-demand. Whether they are traveling for work or working abroad, these individuals are aware of their policy details and want the assistance they need when they need it. 

Associations or groups: Because groups often have their travel plans booked by one organizer, travel assistance resources are usually readily available. Case management services may also be organized for groups, especially if a group has specific needs while they travel, whether their plans are short- or long-term. 

Government agencies and NGOs: These groups tend to handle their travel planning in advance, particularly because their destinations or insurance policies may require specific vaccines. Health and safety checks are crucial for ensuring that government employees are clear to perform their work overseas, and well-coordinated medical care is an essential policy element to this type of traveler because of the nature of their work. 

Travel smart, no matter your situation: 2023 holiday travel tips

Taking the right preparations before traveling can make a difference in your experience, especially if something unexpected happens during your trip. Regardless of what type of traveler you may be this holiday season, here are some of Sedgwick’s expert-approved tips for traveling:

Understand your policy: Before you leave on your trip, establish a baseline understanding of your insurance policy and what it covers. This may include determining if you have a policy that covers travel events or medical emergencies overseas. Travel assistance can be embedded within the trip payment vehicle, such as a bank or credit card provider, or through specific travel insurance that an airline carrier may offer. Some travelers may even buy an annual travel insurance policy, while group travelers may be required to have a policy as part of the trip. Regardless of whether a policy is purchased separately or embedded, travelers need to know what it covers, including circumstances like delays, cancellations, lost bags, and missed connections or exclusionary terms like time periods before a policy goes into effect, tiers of service, or blackout dates. This is especially important during the holiday season when emotions are heightened and winter weather puts travel plans at risk.

Understand your risks: While nobody wants to get caught up in a travel snag, the more prepared travelers are for certain risks, the easier it can be to find a solution. At Sedgwick, we’re seeing an uptick in weather-related claims, causing travelers to be delayed more than expected. This means that travelers should make a plan to have essential items at hand, like extra clothes, snacks and toiletries, in case a weather delay keeps a checked bag out of reach. For families traveling with children, this extra preparation is especially important. On top of weather delays, we’ve also seen airline staffing issues and airline technology issues top the list for reasons why insureds experience a delay or need assistance with a trip.

If you’re traveling to, through, or from a city that could potentially experience civil unrest, understand that travel assistance may be a helpful resource to you. We’ve seen an increase in these types of claims where Sedgwick experts have been helpful with getting travelers out of areas of conflict and back home to safety. 

Plan ahead to ensure you’ll have support at your fingertips: Issues can arise when you least expect them. In the case of a delay, cancellation, or even a medical emergency while traveling, it’s essential to have travel and medical assistance contact information readily available for when those unexpected times happen. In the case of a medical emergency, your level of preparedness and rapid response could make a big difference in the level of care you or your travel companions receive.

As documents and customer service interfaces have become increasingly digitized, travelers have adapted to keep all their important information stored on their phone. But remember to keep extra physical copies of this information in a secure place. Phones do get stolen or lost, further complicating any travel or medical issues. 

If you have questions about your trip or your policy, insurance providers are readily available with customer service teams. It’s best to know your policy’s details ahead of time, as customer service lines can get backed up when a delay or cancellation overflows the queue of customers waiting for help. Also keep in mind that the level of customer service you receive depends on your travel or policy provider: booking any travel resources through a third-party provider will be handled by that third party whose ability to help may be limited, while booking directly through an airline or direct service provider will result in a more direct level of customer service.

At Sedgwick, our customer service teams are highly specialized to help insured individuals and groups through complex travel and medical assistance needs. We offer personalized, 24/7/365 concierge-level hotline support with a proven track record of getting travelers trusted medical triage and care, in-language support, coordinated emergency and non-emergency travel and evacuation resources, and step-by-step assistance along the way.

Tags: benefits, Claims, Coverage, Global, Helping people, Medical costs, Policy, Travel, Travelers, traveling