Do insurance policies cover medical translations?

Medical travel insurance

Experts say 15 percent of travelers encounter some kind of medical problem on their journey (from Forbes website).

Since the likelihood of a medical emergency while traveling abroad is significant, it is recommended that you purchase medical emergency travel insurance before traveling to another country. Your local medical insurance does not usually cover medical treatment overseas. Purchasing a medical emergency travel insurance makes sense, especially since the costs are not high for a healthy individual-premiums typically cost a few dollars a day.

Types of medical travel insurance

Medical emergency travel insurance can be purchased on its own, or can be bundled together with other types of travel coverage. Trip cancellation, luggage loss/theft, theft or loss of smartphones/tablets/notebook PCs can also be purchased. More exotic types of coverage include search and rescue, air evacuation and more. I myself usually purchase for myself and my family members just the basic medical emergency travel insurance. And I even have an interesting story about this.

A number of years ago I sent my two oldest boys, then 9 and 11, to a sleepaway summer camp in a foreign country. One day I get a phone call from the camp Doctor: your boys came into contact with a bat and need rabies shots. The Doctor, who I’m guessing did not graduate at the top of his class, made sure to worry me and my wife sick by reminding us that rabies is a fatal disease and that the rabies shots were recommended. So obviously my answer was: send them to the hospital for the shots. It turned out that it was actually a series of 5 shots. A few months later I get a hospital bill for $15,000! I did not panic, instead I just sent the bill to the insurance company who took care of the bill. Had I not purchased medical emergency travel insurance, I would have been in the hole for serious bucks.

Interpretation Service Coverage

Going to hospital in a foreign country may be challenging if the staff does not speak your language. Explaining a urinary tract infection in sign language or pantomime may be difficult. So in these types of scenarios, a medical interpreter is recommended.  Who pays for it? Is it covered by your insurance policy? Sometimes it is and it is worthwhile to check prior to your trip abroad.

Here is a snippet from a medical emergency travel insurance by British insurance company RSA.

Interpretation Service: Global Excel can connect you to a foreign language interpreter when required for emergency services in foreign countries.

Here is another snippet from a different policy from RSA:

Global Excel will work closely with you to …… provide multilingual interpreters to communicate with physicians and hospitals.

You should carefully check if interpretation services are covered by your travel policy and if this is something that you deem important, make sure to get this coverage.

Medical Report Translation

One of the best selling items at GTS Translation is translation of medical reports. Especially medical report translation to English. Many of the customers are individuals who were hospitalized while traveling abroad and needed an emergency operation or procedure which requires hospitalization. These individuals invariably require that the medical papers be translated into English in order to ensure continuous and proper healthcare when they return home.

The types of medical reports that people need to translate are many and include blood tests, CT and MRI scan reports, physician reports and toxicology reports. These types of medical reports need to be translated by professional medical translator with specialized subject-matter experience. Preferably, these translations should be done Medical Doctors who are also translators. (Many people would be surprised to learn that there are MDs who work as translators, but there are in fact quite a few and at GTS we have several such MD translators on our team).

The cost of professional medical report translation can be high. Starting in the hundreds and even going into the thousands of dollars.

Here too, it is recommended that you check with your insurance agent or company to see if these are reimbursable expenses.