Travel Health Insurance

Most domestic health insurance policies are not accepted abroad, so there is a benefit to purchasing travel medical insurance as a supplement to your health insurance coverage. Travel medical insurance helps cover the cost of many emergency medical treatments during a trip. If you are traveling and have an unexpected illness, medical condition or injury that is covered by your travel medical insurance, you typically will be reimbursed up to the plan limits. The travel medical coverage is only valid while you’re traveling. Travel medical insurance is different from your health insurance because travel medical insurance is a supplemental policy that helps protect you while you are traveling. It is only valid for the length of your trip and is meant to supplement your health insurance when you’re out of network.

Generally, there are two forms of travel medical insurance :

  • Stand-alone medical insurance plans: These plans cover emergency medical and dental expenses you incur while traveling. However, a stand-alone medical plan doesn’t include other travel insurance coverage such as trip cancellation insurance or baggage coverage.

  • As part of a comprehensive travel insurance plan: In addition to emergency medical benefits, a comprehensive travel insurance plan can package coverage for trip cancellation, trip delay, emergency medical evacuation, baggage loss and more. It’s the best way to cover a host of potential problems.


Travel medical insurance covers many emergencies, but it is not meant to be used for preventive treatments or regular medical care. It’s used to cover emergencies such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Emergency dental procedures
  • Medical evacuations
  • Emergency transport
  • Emergency repatriation

Anything that constitutes a medical emergency and forces you to seek treatment while you’re on your trip typically should be covered by a comprehensive travel medical insurance policy. If you’re going to a doctor for a routine checkup, you’ll be required to pay out of pocket or submit a claim to your health insurance provider.


There are four types of travel health insurance policies: Primary Medical Coverage, Secondary Medical Coverage, Single-Trip Coverage and Multi-Trip Coverage.

Primary Medical Coverage will pay out before any other health insurance you might have. If you buy Secondary Medical Coverage then your primary health plan you own must pay first. If you’re traveling overseas and your U.S. health plan doesn’t provide coverage, a travel medical plan that’s “secondary” will essentially become primary coverage due to lack of other insurance.

As for the Single-Trip and Multi-Trip Coverage, it depends on how often are you planing to travel in a calendar year. Single-Trip Coverage begins when you leave your home and travel to your destination (or destinations) and ends when you return home. The plan covers you for the duration of your trip. For example, you could purchase a single-trip plan for a four week European vacation where you visit several different countries.

On the other hand, Multi-Trip coverage covers you for a calendar year and is good for travelers who take three or more trips per year. For example, you could take a trip to Italy, come home for several weeks, then travel to Germany, come home, then take off to Mexico, and you are covered on every trip.


When you’re covering the cost of a vacation, the thought of paying for health insurance during international travel may seem like an unnecessary expense. Fortunately, travel medical insurance is typically very affordable. Policies average between $40 and $80. But keep in mind that higher coverage limits and longer coverage terms typically increase the cost of the policy.

Basically how much you pay for travel medical insurance depends on these four factors:

  • Age
  • Trip duration
  • Destination
  • Coverage limit and deductible


Purchasing health insurance for traveling abroad is a simple way to save money in an emergency, and anyone can benefit from the coverage.

If you are traveling to a country in which your health insurance provider doesn’t provide coverage, buying travel medical insurance is a must. If your insurance provider will cover healthcare costs in the country you are traveling to, buying coverage can still help lower your expenses and reduce potential out-of-network costs for any emergencies that may arise.

This is also the case if you are traveling on a cruise ship. Typically, you will be able to receive some medical care onboard the ship and should be able to use your health insurance to cover those costs. But if your injuries require transfer to a medical facility on shore, a travel medical insurance policy can be very useful.
You may also want to research the country you are planning to visit in order to learn whether you will need travel medical insurance or not. Some countries may require you to show proof of travel medical insurance prior to entering their country.

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