Travel Medical Insurance

Audrey M. Jones
plane taking off

Travel medical insurance gives vacationers and business travelers insurance coverage for accidents or illnesses occurring abroad. Many medical insurance policies only provide coverage within the 50 states; travel insurance, on the other hand, extends protection to overseas countries. Long and short-term policies are available.

Coverage for Travel

If you live or work abroad or are merely traveling overseas for a vacation, comprehensive medical travel insurance provides coverage similar to what is available in the United States. Most policies cover:

  • Emergency room expenses
  • Hospital room and board
  • Intensive care
  • Surgery
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab tests and X-rays
  • Physical therapy
  • Doctor's visits

Policies usually provide coverage in any foreign country. You can also purchase an individual policy for you or your entire family.

These policies operate the same way as non-travel medical insurance policies. The purchaser pays a monthly premium and has a co-payment that they must satisfy before the company will pay a portion or all of the incurred medical costs. Rates for coverage depend on the number of individuals the policy covers, the services it pays for and the length of the policy. Policies lasting several months are often less expensive than short-term policies only lasting weeks.

Travel vs. Emergency Medical Insurance

While travel medical insurance provides comprehensive coverage in foreign countries, emergency medical insurance only supplements existing coverage. If you become ill or are injured overseas, this insurance supplements any payments made by your original insurance plan for emergency care. Non-emergency medical costs are not covered.

Many times, your existing medical insurance provider offers emergency medical insurance. Other times, however, you will have to purchase a separate policy. In this case, your policy is still supplemental, meaning that it only pays your medical costs if your original insurance plan does not, but it is not considered a part of your major plan.

Medical Evacuation Insurance

This insurance is not a specific type of policy, but rather a component of foreign medical insurance coverage. These clauses are usually inserted in travel or emergency medical insurance policies. They pay for the costs of air ambulances, medical staff, and other emergency-related travel costs to return you to the United States if you become severely injured while abroad.

Finding Medical Travel Insurance Policies

You may be able to purchase travel insurance coverage from your current insurance provider. This may be less expensive than buying an entirely new, separate policy to cover you during your travels abroad. It also might be easier and faster to purchase extended coverage from your current provider than to search out, apply for, and pay for a policy from a new provider. Additionally, your current provider may apply any portion of your satisfied deductible to any medical expenses you incur while abroad.

However, several companies specialize in travel health insurance. These companies provide assistance with medical expenses and transportation back to the U.S. They also provide travel assistance, which is similar to having a concierge for medical questions.

  • Travel Medical Insurance: This company provides policies for as little as $1.00 a day. They provide policy holders with online access to their policies as well as a list of physicians accepting its plans in more than 130 countries.
  • MedEx Global Solutions: In addition to providing medical coverage, this company operates a medical emergency evacuation service. Basic individual policies provide $100,000 in medical coverage and travel assistance to policy holders.
  • Travel Guard: This company offers several different levels of policy coverage, ranging from full to coverage only for emergency care. Customers can also design their own plan.
  • HTH Worldwide: Plans offered by this company provide major medical, basic, long and short-term coverage. Physician visits, hospital stays and prescriptions may be covered.

Finding Your Travel Insurance

The State Department recommends that all overseas travelers consider their medical insurance coverage before embarking on their trip. If you are traveling abroad, you might consider purchasing travel insurance to protect you. This is particularly true if your current policy does not provide care for any accidents or illnesses occurring in a foreign country.

Travel Medical Insurance