How to File an Insurance Claim While Traveling

Need trustworthy help in an emergency? Find out how to submit a travel insurance claim from an IMG member! This post provides a step-by-step guide to understand how to file your claim if anything happens while you're away from home.

Jul 21, 2017, 11:19 AM
IMG has compensated the author for providing this article.

My husband Chris and I have been traveling and working around the world for over 10 years. We’ve climbed to the top of trees higher than Niagara Falls, swam with a dozen bull sharks in the Pacific Ocean and hiked in the remote backcountry of New Zealand. 

Although we have managed to stay safe and healthy for most of our travels, we have experienced our fair share of emergencies, including the time Chris got bit by a stray dog at a Buddhist temple in Thailand – but that’s a whole other story.  

Even then, we were confident in our IMG coverage and have always had the support we needed when seeking treatment and learning how to submit an insurance claim. Should you happen to find yourself on the road and needing to file a claim, here are answers to frequently asked questions that can help you navigate the claim process.  

How do I submit an insurance claim?

First, you're going to need good travel health or medical insurance coverage - these are two good options:

After you receive treatment or medical services for an illness or injury, you should always submit a claim to your travel health insurance company. This process lets them know that you are receiving medical treatment and allows them to watch for appropriate billing to be filed on your behalf. 

If you have any questions about filing your claim, including the time frame for submitting it, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Otherwise, follow these basic steps to submit an insurance claim:

Step 1: Collect itemized receipts.

In many instances, especially if you are traveling abroad, you might need to pay the bill at the time of service and then submit a claim for reimbursement. It is imperative that you ask the medical facility for itemized receipts that detail the services or treatment you received. Ask if the receipts can be printed on official letterhead or if they have a stamp with their contact information that they can put on the receipts. I also grab a couple business cards so I have a quick and easy way to reference which facility I visited.

Step 2: Submit your claim online.

The simplest way to file a claim is to submit it electronically through your insurance company’s online member portal. Follow the prompts to complete the electronic claim form; this will provide your insurance company more information on the illness or injury for which you received treatment. 

You will be asked to attach receipts from your visit, so be sure to have your itemized receipts on hand. You can use your phone or camera to take pictures of the receipts, or you can find a place that will scan them so you can upload them to your electronic claim form. Make sure the pictures or scanned copies are in focus, legible and the contact information is easy to find. PRO TIP: When traveling, carry an inexpensive flash drive so you can easily transfer photos if needed. 

Some insurance companies ask that claims to be submitted via email. If that’s the case with your provider, locate their claim form online and attach the completed form along with your itemized receipts to the email. 

Step 2 Alternative Option: Mail your Claim

If your insurance company does not offer online submission, you may need to mail them your claim. Gather the itemized receipts and complete a claim form, making copies of all documents for your records. After you’ve mailed your claim, call your insurance company as soon as possible to let them know you have submitted a claim via mail, and follow up again within 30 days to confirm that they have received it. Most policies have a deadline for submitting claims (typically 90 days), so it’s important to communicate with your insurance company to ensure your claim is submitted in a timely manner. 

If your insurance company does not offer online submission, you may need to mail them your claim. Gather the itemized receipts and complete a claim form, making copies of all documents for your records. After you’ve mailed your claim, call your insurance company as soon as possible to let them know you have submitted a claim via mail, and follow up again within 30 days to confirm that they have received it. Most policies have a deadline for submitting claims (typically 90 days), so it’s important to communicate with your insurance company to ensure your claim is submitted in a timely manner. 

Step 3: Monitor Your Claim's Progress

Once your claim has been processed, you should receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) that details how your claim was paid and/or request additional information needed to review and process your claim. If you submitted your claim through your insurance company’s online member portal, log in to track your claim’s progress and to submit any additional documentation that is requested. 

Answers to Travel Health Insurance Claims FAQs

How long does it take to process a claim?

Industry standards suggest it can take 30 to 90 days to process a claim. Be sure to note that the process can be delayed if you are required to submit additional information to complete your claim request. Review your Explanation of Benefits carefully to ensure your provider has everything they need. 

It really pays to take the time to fill out your claim neatly, accurately and completely the first time. Personally, all my claims with IMG have been processed and checks mailed in less than 30 days. 

How do I get reimbursed?

Claim reimbursements are typically issued via check and mailed to the permanent address you have on file with the insurance company. 

The amount you receive is based on eligible medical expenses less your deductible and co-insurance, or out-of-pocket expenses per the plan wording.  

If you are a long-term traveler like me, it may be worthwhile to designate a power of attorney who is authorized on your behalf to deposit checks and handle other financial matters for you while you’re traveling. 

What if the amount of my claim is low and I know I still have to meet my deductible — is it worth filing a claim?

Yes! You should always submit a claim with your insurance company regardless how small the expense may be or whether you’ve met your deductible. 

It is important for your insurance company to be aware of any charges filed on your behalf. Plus, if you’re traveling for an extended period, the medical expenses you paid out of pocket will be applied to your deductible in the event you need to file another claim in the future. 

As a traveler, I understand that submitting a claim may not be the best part of your trip. But in my experience, it has been a seamless and painless process that ultimately gives me peace of mind. This is what insurance is for, after all! 

For over a decade, Tiffany Soukup has traveled to more than 35 countries with her husband Chris, hiking into remote jungles, looking for endangered wildlife and seeking adventures. Tiffany has been an IMG member since 2007.

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