United Healthcare Travel Insurance - 2021 Review
United Healthcare Travel Insurance is very expensive, with some confusing options. It does have high levels of medical insurance cover for those under the age of 70. However, as travelers age, United Healthcare Travel Insurance offers less and less protection.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance is branded as SafeTrip Travel Protection, and is sold by United Healthcare as a Supplemental Insurance Plan.
The United Healthcare Travel Insurance buying experience can be a little confusing, and can easily leave a traveler without key coverage. We will do our best to explain the process so that you can avoid the pitfalls.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance – Initial Steps
We like the front screen – a very simple interface, asking for only three pertinent pieces of information.
- Number of Travelers
- Primary Destination
- Your Home Country
Step 2 just wants to know our dates of departure and return. Remember to make sure that the start date is the day you leave home, not the day your cruise begins or you arrive in your foreign destination. Same thing with the return date – it is the date you get back home. Think of travel insurance as ‘door to door’ service, and you will always get your dates of travel correct.
Step 3 asks us for ages of travelers at departure. Normally travel insurance companies want the age of the traveler on the day of purchase, not the date of departure, so please pay attention. Note that all travelers must live in the same US state, or separate travel insurance applications will need to be made.
Step 4 asks us for the total trip cost for all travelers combined. When you are looking to buy travel insurance, the insurance carrier wants to know the non-refundable trip costs. So, hotels that you could cancel without fee need not be included in this calculation, for example. Typically, we need to include the costs of flights, cruises, package tours etc. Essentially, everything that will cost you money before your trip that you would not get refunded if you cancelled.
Now, note the little information bubble from United Healthcare. The maximum trip cost cannot exceed $10k per traveler if you buy United Healthcare Travel Insurance. We know that this limit does not affect many people, but we see travelers every day who spend more than this. Be careful if you are on a very expensive trip – United Healthcare Trip Insurance is not going to be sufficient. There are a few more tricks like this through the booking process. We will share them all with you.
No Extreme Sports over 69
This is not something we see every day. United Healthcare Travel Insurance does not support cover for Extreme Sports for those aged over 69. Honestly, we do not see great demand for that type of cover, and World Nomads is probably the best place to go to for true extreme sports protection. However, as you will see a little later on, United Healthcare seems to think that 'Extreme Sports' includes a gentle ski in the mountains, or some light scuba diving. No other insurer we have seen would wish to exclude such gentle activities.
But the initial statement is genuinely troubling: ‘Coverage for travelers over 70 is limited to $50,000’
Now, the type of cover that is restricted to $50k is not defined here, but the very statement itself gives us great cause for concern. We will pick up on this in a short while.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance Pricing Grid
United Healthcare has, hands-down, the most confusing pricing grid we have ever seen. It looks pretty, but there are simply too many options. It is so easy to miss some critical information and not insure the trip correctly.
So, pricing includes all travelers.
Medical/Accident Cover Amount
Medical/Accident cover limits are per person. All good so far.
United Healthcare offers limits of $100k, $500k and $1m. Our standard recommendation is that when traveling overseas, no less than $100k of Travel Medical Insurance cover is purchased.
Serious accidents or illnesses can occur whilst on a vacation, and international private hospitals can be expensive. Costs of $3k-$4k per day are not uncommon.
However, it is rare to see comprehensive travel insurance plans with significantly more than $100k of medical cover.
Levels in excess of $100k simply are not needed in anything other than incredibly rare cases. We would be comfortable taking the $100k medical cover.
We have never seen a Travel Insurance policy that incorporated a deductible. We had to read this a couple of times just to be sure that we had understood correctly. If you buy a regular travel insurance from any of the major travel insurance carriers in the US, you will not see a deductible. United Healthcare Travel Insurance should not have one either, in our opinion.
Trip Cancellation is NOT Included in Price
Yet again, we came across something that we had never seen before. It turns out that although United Healthcare Travel Insurance discusses trip cancellation protection through all of its site, trip cancellation protection is not included in the base price of travel insurance.
Again, we have been doing this a long time, and this is another first. Every comprehensive travel insurance includes trip cancellation protection. Every traveler expects it. The fact that this is a tick-the-box option is quite troublesome. Many travelers will miss this, working on the assumption that they have travel cancellation protection when they buy their policy from United Healthcare. They do not.
Please be very careful, and ensure that you have this particular option selected, if you want to buy trip cancellation protection from United Healthcare.
Let’s see what this does to our quote.
Remember, here were the prices before.
Travel Insurance Price - No Cancellation Benefit
And here are the prices when we incorporate trip cancellation protection.
Travel Insurance Price - With Cancellation Benefit
That’s quite a difference, as we would expect. But think how many people miss this step and do not get the trip cancellation protection that they assume would be in the policy to begin with.
A little earlier we referred to the fact that extreme sports protection was not available to those over the age of 69. Here we can see a little more information, and again, there is a surprise.
Here is the language that United Healthcare Travel Insurance uses to describe ‘Extreme Sports’:
Buckle-up! We provide medical coverage for sporty types who like to push themselves to the limit. We're here for the ups and downs: climbing a mountain, skiing, scuba diving or bouncing around on a bungee. We don't provide coverage for professional athletes, contact sports or for travelers with sky-high intentions, so you will need to get additional medical insurance if you fancy skydiving, hang-gliding or heli-skiing. Please look at our program information before you leap.”
So, United Healthcare wants travelers to pay a premium if they are going skiing or scuba diving. That is madness – we just don’t see this in regular traveler insurance policies. These are normal activities.
Please be very careful – United Healthcare is nickel-and-diming travelers with its options list. We really do not appreciate this approach.
Severe Travel Medical Insurance Cover Restrictions for Older Travelers
Remember that earlier in the article we mentioned the little pop-up that informed us that cover for those aged over 70 was $50k. Well, we still did not really know what cover was being restricted, so took a dive into the policy document.
We regret to say that the treatment of older travelers by United Healthcare Travel Insurance is nothing sort of shameful. Here is the policy language relating to Travel Medical Insurance Cover:
United Healthcare Travel Insurance Features
Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
- $100,000; $500,000; or $1,000,000 (as chosen at purchase)
- Maximum benefit for Age 70-79 $50,000
- Maximum benefit for Age 80-85 $10,000
- Deductible $0; $100; or $250 (as chosen at purchase)
This is a pitiful amount of medical protection, which is not clearly explained during the purchase process. It leaves potentially vulnerable travelers with far too little travel medical insurance protection. Why United Healthcare chooses to do this is most confusing. When we run policy quotes with other travel insurers, we get the same cover levels for all travelers, irrespective of age. Older travelers should not buy United Healthcare Travel Insurance unless they have alternative medical insurance cover that will travel with them.
Remember that those who rely upon Medicare have no cover outside the USA. This is also the case if you happen to be on a cruise ship more than six hours away from a U.S. port. Those who have Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) policies may have cover when they leave the U.S. They need to have Medigap Plan C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M or N. Medigap covers only 80% of medically necessary emergency care, and has a lifetime limit of $50,000. Note that it does not provide travel emergency medical evacuation protection. Given the potentially ruinously costs of co-payment of 20%, we would always recommend the purchase of travel medical insurance for those with Medigap.
The medical protection provided by United Healthcare is totally inadequate for senior travelers.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance – Universal Features
United Healthcare has a standard set of policy features that are similar to those we see with other travel insurance carriers.
Universal Features – included with all United Healthcare Travel plans
**Insurance Benefits **
What's included / values
- Medical Evacuation - $1,000,000
- Medical Repatriation - Included
- Return of Children - Included
- Emergency Reunion - Included
- Return of Mortal Remains - Included
- AD & D Coverage – 24 Hour - $25,000
- AD & D Coverage – Common Carrier - $100,000
- Baggage Loss - $250 per Article / $1,000 max limit / $50 deductible
- Baggage Delay - $250 / 24 hour delay
**Non-Insurance Services **
What's included / values
- Medical Assistance - Included
- Travel Assistance - Included
- Destination Intelligence – Included
The Medical Evacuation cover of $1m is generous. It is probably far more than is logical for all but a handful of people who have truly ventured into the middle of nowhere.
We like to see $100k of Medical Evacuation benefit for those who are within 3-4 hours' flight time of the USA. Once further away than this, we recommend the purchase of travel insurance that includes $250k of travel medical evacuation protection.
This cover is used to pay for a medical evacuation with a supporting medical team. When private jets are used over long distances, costs can escalate dramatically. However, we do not see the necessity for cover in excess of $250k unless the vacation is to a remarkably remote part of the world.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance – Cancellation Benefits
Remember that the trip cancellation benefit associated with the United Healthcare Travel Insurance policy is capped at $10,000 per traveler.
Here is the policy language (abridged) for cancellation protection.
Benefits will be paid, up to the Maximum Benefit Amount shown in the Schedule of Benefits, to reimburse You for the amount of unused nonrefundable Prepaid Payments or Deposits You paid for Travel Arrangements, when You are prevented from taking Your Trip due to:
- Your, or a Family Member’s, or a Traveling Companion’s death, which occurs before departure on Your Trip;
- Your, or a Family Member’s, or a Traveling Companion’s covered Sickness or Injury, which: a) occurs before departure on Your Trip, b) requires Medical Treatment at the time of cancellation resulting in medically imposed restrictions, as certified by a Legally Qualified Physician, and c) prevents Your participation in the Trip;
- For the Other Covered Reasons listed below;
provided such circumstances occur while coverage is in effect.
“Other Covered Reasons” means:
- You or Your Traveling Companion being hijacked, quarantined, required to serve on a jury (notice of jury duty must be received after Your Effective Date), served with a court order to appear as a witness in a legal action in which You or Your Traveling Companion is not a party (except law enforcement officers);
- Your or Your Traveling Companion’s primary place of residence or destination being rendered uninhabitable and remaining uninhabitable during Your scheduled Trip, by fire, flood, burglary or other Natural Disaster;
- a permanent transfer of employment of 250 miles or more;
- You or Your Traveling Companion being directly involved in a traffic accident, substantiated by a police report, while en route to Your scheduled point of departure;
- You or Your Traveling Companion is in the military and called to emergency duty for a national disaster other than war;
- a Terrorist Incident that occurs within 30 days of Your Scheduled Departure Date in a city listed on the itinerary of Your Trip. This same city must not have experienced a Terrorist Incident within the 90 days prior to the Terrorist Incident that is causing Your cancellation of Your Trip. Benefits are not provided if the Travel Supplier offers a substitute itinerary;
- revocation of Your previously granted military leave or re-assignment due to war. Official written revocation/re-assignment by a supervisor or commanding officer of the appropriate branch of service will be required.
All cancellations must be reported to the Travel Supplier within 72 hours of the event causing the need to cancel.
Missing Elements from United Healthcare Cancellation Benefits
Our concerns are multiple. The basic United Healthcare cancellation benefits are reasonable, and standard in most policies. But, in all that detail, there are some missing protections that we would expect to see.
If your Travel Provider falls into bankruptcy, it would be great if your travel insurance supported you. We see this type of cover in almost every comprehensive trip insurance policy – why United Healthcare Trip Insurance does not include it is concerning.
Cancel for Work Reasons
There are two Cancel for Work Reasons protections that should be made available when we buy a trip cancellation policy. The first should support us in the event that we are laid off or made redundant by our employer. The best trip insurance policies only require that we have worked for that particular employer for 12 months. Some travel insurance policies require 36 months of employment with the same employer, which we think is a little unfair. However, United Healthcare Trip Insurance offers no redundancy protection at all, which is shocking.
The best Cancel for Work Reason travel policies will cover a traveler who has their previously agreed vacation canceled by an employer. We love this benefit. United Healthcare does not provide it.
Cancel for Any Reason
Sometimes we simply wish to be able to cancel our trip, without any reason at all. When we do so, it would be great to be able to claim back most of our trip costs. Cancel for Any Reason Travel Insurance does exactly that. It allows a traveler to cancel their vacation, with at least 48 hours' notice, and still receive a 75% refund on their costs. This is the most powerful cancellation benefit that exists in Travel Insurance, and is normally only available on the most comprehensive plans. Unsurprisingly, it is not available if you book United Healthcare Travel Insurance.
Many of us have some form of pre-existing condition that we treat with some form of medication. Provided that the condition has not worsened or the medication changed in recent months (the ‘Look-Back’ period), then the insurer does not consider it ‘Pre-Existing’. We want the Look-Back period to be as short as possible. 60 days is excellent. United Healthcare provides 180 days, which is awful.
Waiver of Pre-Existing Condition
The best Travel Insurance plans provide a Waiver for a Pre-Existing Condition. It is necessary to book the travel policy within a few weeks of an initial trip deposit – this period of time is called the ‘Time-Sensitive Period’. United Healthcare Trip Insurance does not provide a Waiver for Pre-Existing Conditions. Again, this is disappointing – the majority of policies that we see have some form of Waiver associated with the policy.
Alternatives to United Healthcare Travel Insurance
AARDY is the world’s leading Travel Insurance Marketplace. We offer Travel Insurance policies from some of the most respected Insurance Carriers in the USA. All of our carriers are rated at least ‘A’ by A.M. Best. Moreover, the prices we quote are the exact same as if you had gone directly to each and every trip insurance carrier. We can guarantee that the price you see for a policy with us cannot be beaten – price protection is guaranteed under federal anti-discrimination law.
So, remember what United Healthcare has to offer.
Our trip is to the UK for a week. Travelers are aged 69 and 70. Cost of trip is $8,000. This is quite a normal type of trip for an AARP customer, so a good trip to compare travel insurance options with.
The cheapest United Healthcare Travel Insurance is $797.
Let’s look at what we can find at AARDY.
AARDY Travel Insurance Options
Well, the cheapest trip insurance we can find is priced at $422, but has only $10k of Medical Insurance. We would not recommend that unless a traveler had medical protection from another plan – this is not something we see very often.
So, let’s look for a plan with the same travel medical insurance protection ($100k) that United Healthcare offered.
We can see two fantastic low-cost travel insurance options that are manifestly superior to the travel policy offered by United Healthcare.
Focusing on the TII Worldwide Trip Protector.
- Cancel for Work Reason cover is provided.
- Pre-Existing Look-Back is only 60 days.
- There is a Waiver of Pre-Existing Condition.
- Medical Cover is $100k, Evacuation Cover is $1m.
In every obvious aspect the TII Worldwide Trip Protector policy is superior to United Healthcare’s travel insurance.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance Conclusion
The US Travel Insurance market is massive – we spend over $3bn each year on travel insurance protection. There are a large number of highly respected travel insurance carriers who build policies that compete against one another. It makes all the sense in the world to compare the market, and buy the policy you need.
United Healthcare Travel Insurance does not offer good value. It has weak policy benefits and is missing some cover that we consider critical.
It takes only one minute to compare Travel Insurance options with us – you will see a good representation of the entire market, and can get the cover you need.