FOREIGN TRAVEL INSURANCE AND LEGAL GUIDE A trip to a foreign land can be an exciting and memorable experience. However, before you pack your bags and head off to the international airport, there are critical matters that need to be addressed before you venture beyond the sanctuary of the friendly United States boarders. Many of the privileges and securities you enjoy in the United States are immediately left behind once you leave the boarders of American soil. While in the United States, we sometimes take for granted the liberties, freedoms and protections we have as US citizens. When we venture to a third world country, or even an industrialized European nation, many matters we take for granted in the US change dramatically when we travel to this foreign land. So before you head merrily off to your foreign country with your favorite travel hat and travel bag, you need to make sure you are aware of how to prepare for any unplanned medical, personal or legal emergencies. You need to understand how your medical coverage will change or may even disappear and you may have to consider travel insurance. You need to have a basic understanding of the laws of the country you are visiting and who to contact when matters arise that you did not foresee. YOU MAY LOSE MEDICAL COVERAGE AND NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE If you go to a foreign country, the medical care will most likely be sub-standard to that in the US. If you have a serious condition subject to the need of immediate medical attention, find out about the location and the quality of the medical facilities available at the locale you will be visiting. Make sure you have with you sufficient prescription medications and refill prescriptions from your doctor. In addition, you will need a letter from your doctor summarizing your condition and the medications he has prescribed. And most important, carry your medication in the pharmacy labeled container. Your group medical coverage may or may not cover unexpected medical needs or offer limited coverage. Most insurance policies will cover your medical expenses while you are out of the country, however, few in any will cover the cost of transporting a medical patient back to the United States, and the actual cost would be well over ten thousand dollars. If you are depending on medicare or medicaid coverage, unfortunately, once you leave the United States you medical coverage will cease. If you are going to be without coverage, then the only alternative is to purchase supplemental travel insurance coverage, and the cost normally runs between five and ten percent of the cost of your trip. For a list of reliable supplemental insurance carriers check the state departments website at: http://travel.state.gov – or check with an established medical insurance agent. YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS WILL CHANGE Also, remember, once in a foreign land you are subject to their laws, and can be prosecuted in that country, if their laws are deemed violated. A violation that may be considered a misdemeanor in the US may be a major crime in a foreign land. For example, consider certain drug possession offenses. Foreign due process rights are quite different than due process rights in the US. The United States has embassies in most countries and it is best to have the phone number, address and email of the US embassy in any country you enter, and be sure to contact the local US embassy immediately, even if you suspect problems with the local authorities. See the state department website above to locate the various foreign embassies, and keep a copy of the contact details in your pocket at all times. THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT HELPS ITS CITIZENS ABROAD Lastly, the United States wants to protect and insure the safety of US citizens abroad. Be sure to register the details of your trip with the US State Department at: https://travelregistration.state.gov , and note their toll free number accessible twenty four hours a day at: 1-888-407-4747. If you register with the state department, then in the event of an emergency your relatives can call the above number and you will be contacted pursuant to your registration details. Also, there is a page on your passport to leave critical medical and contact information and it takes just a minute to record. The vast majority of foreign travelers rarely have significant problems abroad, however, it is more than wise to plan ahead in the event an unfortunate medical or legal emergency develops.