International Travel and Health Insurance For Short Term Missions Trips

Community building, outreach, adventure, missions and volunteer work are a few of the buzzwords that get tossed around when discussing short term out-of-country trips Churches and Christian organizations promote during school breaks and summer vacations.

It is easy to get caught up in the fundraising, the training, and the excitement without taking your health into consideration. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that because of your short term stay, or the nature of your work, you won’t be confronted with hazards to your health during your overseas travel.

What can go wrong on an international short term trip?

1. An elderly man named Don Jenkins joined United Methodist Church in their volunteer missions trip to the Dominican Republic. This trip included construction work, and as a result of a nasty fall, he incurred significant head injuries which resulted in $90,000 in medical bills.

2. Lest you think life-threatening situations are restricted to the elderly, college freshman Shane Luiz drowned the day before returning from his short term mission trip. His team had come to the Dominican Republic to teach a Vacation Bible School for children.

3. A young college student was bitten by a poisonous snake on a small Indonesian island. She was there on a short term trip to help a missionary family. Sadly, she died in great pain from the snake bite. Her family incurred a huge expense to have her remains repatriated back to the United States.

Why is it critical to have short term international health insurance?

Whether you are a volunteer planning on spending your summer in Guatemala, or a team leader intending to take a missions team to East Asia, take into serious consideration the benefits of short-term international health insurance.

First of all, most national insurance will not cover costs incurred out the United States, or a medical evacuation to fly the individual back to the states for intensive medical treatment. In the case of Don Jenkins, his family had to mortgage their house in order to pay for the $30,000 medical evacuation.

Secondly, there are a wide range of plans to choose from. If you are an individual in need of short-term international insurance, there is a plan for you. If you would like to have your entire team covered, there are plans specifically for small groups (as small as two people!). There are separate plans for outreaches, Church trips and NGO’s; so depending on your situation you can pick the appropriate plan.

Third, having your entire team covered protects the credibility and trustworthiness of your organization.

But won’t this cost a lot?

If you include the cost of insurance in the figure denoting the amount of support that must be raised by each individual, your team will be more willing to comply, and will not view insurance as an extra expense. If you can register as a group for a group rate this may lower the rates for everyone.

Buying insurance before participating in an overseas volunteer and mission effort is a good way to take care of yourself and your family, while simultaneously reaching out to others.

Source by Lydia Medill

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