Part 2: Death Abroad – What to Do if the Unthinkable Occurs


“PART 2: What to Do in the Event of the Unthinkable,” explains what to do if you are abroad and need assistance because of a death.

In Part 1 of this post on Being Prepared to Travel Abroad, we discussed how travel is becoming more typical and how unusual it is for deaths to occur abroad. When they do we usually think of terrorism, but actually, most tourists who die do so of fairly usual causes. The two most popular are automobile accidents and drowning according to US State Department records.

Having prepared for your trip using some or even all of the tips from the last post, what do you do if the unthinkable happens?

After you contact family and maybe even hotel staff or other local assistance, call your supplemental insurance company. Advise them of the situation and ask for guidance.

Next, Contact the Bureau of Consular Affairs (part of the US State Department). You can contact the Bureau from the US or abroad at any time of the day or night. The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs provides emergency assistance to U.S. citizens, including helping to make all arrangements for the return of remains and personal effects. If for some reason you are unable to reach them, contact the local embassy and have them reach out on your behalf. Again it is important to note that they will not provide any financial support, which is why supplemental insurance is SO important to consider and why we recommend reaching out to your insurance in a timely manner. More information can be found on the State Department’s website. There is also a wallet card that has the most vital contact information for the bureau that you can print out and take with you on your trip.

Being prepared for the worst means traveling more freely and enjoying your destination more thoroughly with peace of mind.