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Old 08-04-1999
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William Mahaffy is on a distinguished road
Health Insurance While Cruising

I am interested in insurance coverage for the year or so time that I'll be cruising in the Caribbean and Central America. Do You know of any health insurance providers?

James B.

William Mahaffy responds:

As I have commented many times in this column, the absolute best insurance is to have the equipment and training necessary to deal with the small emergencies that may happen on board. However, for those interested in voyaging outside of US waters, some form of medical insurance may be desirable. In these instances, travel insurance or international medical insurance would be advisable. Keep in mind, this kind of insurance is not cheap and there are a number of important exclusions. This type of insurance will, however, cover the expense of a catastrophic illness or injury while abroad.

It is important to make sure the plan will cover all of the possible physician and hospital bills. It should also cover medical evacuation and repatriation back to the United States. Additionally, make sure the length of coverage is sufficient to cover the duration of your voyage.

I have found a few companies offering International Medical Insurance and the services seem reasonable. Check out Global Medical Insurance at or call (800) 576-2674. Its website offers important information for the world traveler and lists the current premium rates (though it is difficult to determine the period of coverage for each price).

Also check World Medical Plans at and They can be reached at (800) 601-5433 or (510) 881-2674. While these are really the same company, the sites are different and the health plans appear to differ as well. They generally have most of the same features but it appears that you can mix and match the services to best suit your travel needs.

Finally, I would suggest discussing your specific needs with your current carrier. They may have some provision that will cover you for a one-year period instead of losing your business to another insurer. In any event, shop around for the best coverage that will adequately meet your needs. Hopefully, your medical kit and training will be all you need to insure a safe and enjoyable journey.

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