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I'm going to Italy for my honeymoon and I haven't traveled away from the U.S. that long before. Some of my cousins say we need to have travel insurance for doctors and such, but how likely is it I'd need that even if I had to see a doctor?


Are there lists of doctors who speak English? How much do doctors charge in Italy? Is there some other kind of insurance I should have? Please! I'm tired of sounding like a babe in the woods at family cousins are all 10 years older and act like they know it all...

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Are you a worrier?  Do you run to the doctor at the first sign of possible trouble?  Are you particularly clumsy and break bones?  If the answers are no, as it sounds like they might be, I'd say don't bother with the insurance.  If you need an English speaking doctor in Italy you'll find one.  Your hotel or any pharmacy will help.  It won't cost an arm & a leg if rumor is true.  I don't know precisely because even though I travel a lot I answered no to all my questions too, don't need doctors in Europe and don't buy insurance.  One of those things for which there's no 1 answer, do what makes you feel best.  I recommend spending the money on a romantic dinner.

Thanks, PortMoresby.


No, I'm not worried about seeing a doctor. I'm more worried about getting my cousins off my back. Someone else told me that there's an organization that puts out a list of English-speaking doctors all over the world--do you know anything about that?


Thanks again...

SueZee, I'm sure there is but, as I mentioned, I just don't think you need to worry about it.  As a last resort you can call the embassy if the first line of defense, hotels & pharmacies, can't help.  Very unlikely.  Tell your cousins only rank beginners and sick people spend time worrying that could be enjoyed planning their trip.

Here's another resource that might help you: The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. It's a non-profit, it's been around a long time, and you can join for free.


IAMAT provides a directory of doctors around the world who speak fluent English and have been checked out by the organization for standards and certification.


You can read more about them and join here:

SueZee, wherever you travel in the world your hotel will find you a suitable doctor who  will speak enough English for your needs - just like Dr.F says - and Italy will have plenty.


Don't bother with lists as they will always be out of date by the time you might want to use them, plus it will no doubt not list a great doc that the hotel knows is just around the corner! At the worst the hotel will have an English speaking staff member sit with you to help translate.


Conversely, I do think that a good travel insurance policy is an absolute requirement - note that I am talking about a policy that will give you cover for all important aspects of travelling problems - including medical cover for major issues but not sniffs and sneezes.


We have a friend who went shopping in New York from UK and shortly after arrival found himself flat on his back in a US hospital with a couple of shiny new stents inserted in his arteries. Now, you don't want to find yourself uninsured in that situation! Equally, having the cost of emergency air repatriation fully covered is a must if you just got run over in India....


Finally, without going on too much about this, do bear in mind that some of the large package tour companies will not accept your booking unless you have full travel insurance (including medical).

Mac says, a good travel insurance policy is an absolute requirement - 


The part he left off was "for me", for him.  Insurance, any kind, is playing the odds.  When you buy it you're betting you'll have a disaster.  When you don't you're figuring the likelihood of a dire event is low.  If you take an occasional trip of short duration and can afford insurance, sure, why not.  When the number & length of trips begins to mount and the budget becomes more of an issue then maybe not.  It's called self-insured and is my insurance of choice.  I'm betting that I won't need a stent or get run over by a tuk tuk.  If I'd bought insurance starting years ago I'd have spent more on insurance than repatriation would cost so I'm ahead now no matter what happens and I'm comfortable with the implications.  


I don't think it's ever useful to tell someone that an expense or purchase is an absolute requirement for everyone.  It simply is not true.  Horror stories don't help anyone, do it or this could happen TO YOU.  The question is one of comfort, is a traveler comfortable with a low degree of risk and only they can decide.

As with many things travel, insurance is a matter of choice.  Travel Health Insurance seems to be a lot more expensive in the US than elsewhere.  Policies in the US usually include trip cancellation and medical coverage and often run 5-6% the cost of a trip.   


Given the amount you travel, Mac, the investment of a few hundred dollars a year seems prudent to me.  But when I was 30 the thought of insurance never crossed my mind.  Not once.


A few years ago I did start buying trip cancellation (and health) insurance because our parents were becoming elderly.  As fate would have it, two days before we were to leave for Central Europe my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip; my wife had to stay and help her out, so we had to cancel the trip.  We were refunded the $5000.00 that trip cost from the insurance company, no hassle or questions asked (after documentation was provided).  So I've seen the value of insurance firsthand.  


But PortMoresby is right, insurance is not for everyone and each person needs to decide how much risk he's willing to take.  I'm very much for people having the right to decide for themselves (and, of course, living with the consequences of their decision).

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