On-demand accident insurance perfect for adventures near or far
All it takes is one accident to cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills before health insurance kicks in, if it ever does. On-demand accident insurance provides a financial safety net for adventurers anywhere in the world or even at home.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had adventure insurance that would pay your out-of-pocket medical expenses for just about any sort of accident you might have anywhere in the world? Two companies — Buddy and Spot — are now offering on-demand accident insurance targeted to the adventurer in all of us. It’s a perfect add-on to existing medical insurance that will protect your wallet on road trips as you pursue an adventurous outdoor lifestyle of any level all around the United States and the globe.
Will I still need travel insurance?
If you are going on a trip where you want trip cancellation protection, lost or delayed baggage protection, trip delay or interruption coverage, cancel for any reason protection, or medical evacuation, then yes, you still need travel insurance. That is where travel insurance excels. Plus, neither Buddy nor Spot will help you at all if you get sick while traveling. That’s where good travel insurance coverage (or your own medical insurance if traveling in the United States) kicks in.
For international travel, we rely on Global Rescue and the company’s companion IMG Signature travel insurance plans. Almost any adventure activity we might want to undertake is covered anywhere in the world. In this case, there’s not much either Buddy or Spot can offer we don’t already have. That said, many standard travel insurance policies, including those you will find offered through credit card companies, excel at the basics, but will not cover you if you are engaging in any activity the company deems as “high risk.” And that is where additional accident insurance that will reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses comes in.
The accidental injury coverages both Buddy and Spot offer will reimburse you for out-of-pocket medical expenses for any accident you experience while traveling or even at home. Trip over a rock and break a wrist? You’re covered. Hit a tree while skiing? Covered. Badly gash your leg while on a run through a park? Covered. Fall while climbing and break a leg? You’re covered as long as you were tied in (yeah, there are pesky exclusions in any insurance policy you will need to check carefully before buying). Get an elbow stress fracture falling off a bike trying to avoid a dog? Yup, covered.
Is adventure insurance different than medical insurance?
Yes, because accident insurance is NOT medical insurance at all. You will still need medical insurance. Think of accident insurance as a bridge between what you have to pay as a deductible and what your medical insurance will cover as a percentage of the overall medical bill. For example, no matter what sort of health insurance plan and coverage for any medical expense stemming from an injury you have (again check your medical coverage exclusions carefully as many medical insurance plans do not cover injuries from what are loosely defined as adventure or extreme sports), accident insurance reimburses 100 percent of anything you have to pay (up to a certain limit of course). How nice is that?!
And adventure insurance won’t just cover the cuts and bruises from that gnarly wipeout as you were scrambling down a bunch of loose rocks to catch an epic sunset. It will even cover out-of-pocket costs for injuries from accidents around your home, too. Break your finger because the dog leash wrapped around it when your pup took off after a squirrel? Yeah, you’re covered.
Neither Spot nor Buddy will cover illness, pre-existing conditions, or injuries that occur because of overuse – like a knee giving out from normal wear and tear on the body and not a specific accident. Here again, that is why you have medical insurance.
I have great medical and travel insurance. Do I need accident insurance too?
“We live in world where most folks have some form of health insurance, but it is increasingly leaving people owing money from co-insurance, deductibles and more,” said Charles Merritt, CEO of Buddy. “As for travel insurance, its coverage has a minimum radius from your home and since the majority of activities people are doing these days is around or near their hometown, travel insurance won’t help.”
Merritt told me that too many of his friends and acquaintances were turning to GoFundMe pages to cover medical expenses from accidents that occurred while in the pursuit of fun and adventure. “We pay cash when you crash,” Merritt said. “Our vision was to be able to offer something that was like a super Aflac for adventurers.”
Comparing Spot and Buddy accident insurance coverages
Both are only available to U.S. residents, and only if your state allows for the coverage to be offered. Currently, Spot is available to residents in 43 states and Buddy in 37. Both told me that they hope to be able to offer coverage for residents in every state soon. Coverage, once you are able to purchase it though, is global.
Signing up for either is easy and can be completed in two minutes or less online with coverage beginning immediately.
Spot is a subscription-based service that costs between $25 and $35 a month depending on your state of residency. You can turn the coverage off for any month or months you are not using it, but Matt Randall, CEO of Spot, told me that few if any subscribers do this, for the simple reason accidents can happen at any time – traveling or at home. Buddy on the other hand offers numerous options for buying coverage. Using Alabama as an example, Buddy is available by the day ($10), the week ($21), the month ($56) and for the year ($52 a month). Costs could be higher or lower depending on your state of residence.
With Buddy, coverage for accidental injuries is based on a schedule of benefits. For example, Buddy will pay up to $200 for an urgent care visit, up to $500 for an emergency room visit, up to $250 for an ambulance transport ($5,000 if it is an air ambulance), and up to $500 for a closed fracture. Buddy cuts you a check for your eligible medical expenses directly based on its schedule of benefits, meaning you could be paying more (or less) than you will be reimbursed for.
Spot pays for the actual medical bills up to a limit of $20,000 per injury – you can have multiple injuries in a year if you are really unlucky and still get full coverage for each. Spot will reimburse you or it will pay medical bills directly to the medical facility or providers, so you do not have to pay out of pocket.
If you have a claim with Buddy, at present you will need to notify the company within 30 days of the accident via email. Merritt told me that the submission of claims and uploading of documents to support a claim will soon be offered online.
Claims with Spot are all handled online through a customer account page, from reporting an injury to uploading bills as you receive them from medical providers.
Buddy will not cover any injury that happens while carrying out any form of paid employment (meaning travel writers, photographers, agencies, outfitters and more would not be covered unless they can prove the injury happened while purely on vacation … a definite gray area!). Additionally, Buddy will not cover any injury where the person has a professional status in the activity – like a guide or a professional athlete for example. Spot has no such exclusion and covers anyone including professional athletes like rock climber Emily Harrington or gig workers – not surprisingly, perhaps, construction workers are frequent subscribers to Spot according to Randall.