Prepare for the unexpected: Travel tips for peace of mind

(BPT) - Do you have a case of wanderlust? Traveling is a great way to explore new places and try new activities, going beyond the ordinary to create lifelong memories with family and friends.

But travel does come with risks. This is particularly important with the rise in adventure travel, where Americans are incorporating exciting experiences, like cycling and ATV tours, to their itineraries. More risks tend to be associated with these types of activities on trips, including unexpected accidents or injuries.

"While the goal is to create happy and memorable experiences on vacation, accidents are likely to happen, so Americans should be prepared for unplanned expenses that may occur from injuries requiring medical attention," says Michael Estep, vice president, group products and worksite leader, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

Estep points to a recent Guardian Life survey that found injuries are a reality of vacationing, with 34% of Americans saying they know someone or have themselves been injured on vacation; this rises to nearly half for strictly adventure-focused travelers. For those who were injured, 75% of those injuries resulted in the need for medical attention, yet only two in 10 Americans are completely confident they could handle the medical costs associated with an injury on vacation.

Whether it’s hiking in the mountains, boating, or ziplining, no one wants to think of a vacation dream turning into a vacation nightmare. However, by planning ahead and being financially prepared, you can help reduce the stress associated with an unexpected injury and the potential out-of-pocket medical costs you may incur to get treated. Consider these smart steps before you leave for your next trip:

1). Prepare health information

When you're packing your clothes and personal items, make sure you have current health insurance cards and prescription information with you. If you're traveling on a plane, it's wise to keep this in your personal bag so you don't risk it getting lost or delayed with checked baggage. Keep a list of your health care contacts should you need them, such as the clinics and doctors' names who you see regularly.

2). Make a plan

If you're injured or need medical care when traveling, not knowing where clinics and hospitals are can be stressful. Before you leave, look up locations of local health care facilities so you are better prepared. You may even write these down or add the information to your mobile devices. You can call your health insurance ahead of time to see if any are in network, but it's not uncommon for medical providers to be out of network when traveling. To curb unexpected expenses, consider accident insurance to supplement costs.

3). Get accident insurance

Just over one quarter of Americans have an accident insurance policy but owning a policy can make a big difference if you get injured while traveling. Accident insurance provides an extra layer of protection that pays you money when you suffer an unexpected, qualifying accident. It’s a supplemental benefit many employers offer as part of their benefits package that can be used to cover the costs of deductibles, copays and other out-of-pocket costs that primary health insurance may not cover.

Plus, if you don't end up using your year-round policy, you can take advantage of the injury-free benefit that pays you cash if your family is claim-free for five years. Guardian Life pays the benefit even if there are wellness or concussion baseline study claims filed. To learn more, visit www.guardianlife.com/accident-insurance.

4). Inquire about safety

When booking excursions or adventure travel, it's always important to ask questions to ensure you're working with a reputable company. How long has the company been in business? What safety procedures do they follow? Is staff certified and trained properly for the activities you'll be doing? What is the protocol if there is an accident or injury? A good organization will welcome these questions and provide clear, honest answers so you can make a wise decision about which company to use.

As the interest in adventure travel continues to rise, accidents and injuries are bound to happen, so it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself ahead of a vacation.

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