Getting Medical Insurance For Your Next Trip Abroad

Getting Medical Insurance For Your Next Trip Abroad

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Suffering a medical emergency in a foreign country is a common fear among travelers. In a recent Squaremouth survey of over 5,000 vacationers, more than 52% of respondents revealed their biggest travel concern was getting sick or injured during their upcoming trip.

Travelers have every right to be fearful. Since most U.S. health insurance plans offer limited to no coverage abroad, receiving medical care overseas can result in thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

If you’re traveling internationally and want medical coverage, we highly recommend that you consider Travel Medical Insurance.

What is Travel Medical Insurance?

Travel Medical Insurance is a type of travel insurance that’s specifically designed to cover unforeseen medical emergencies that may arise during a trip. If you experience an unexpected injury or illness, for example, your insurance provider will reimburse your related medical expenses up to the plan’s coverage limit.

Most international travel medical insurance policies will typically cover expenses like ambulance rides, surgeries, hospital stays, doctor visits, x-rays, prescription medications, emergency medical evacuations, and other unexpected medical expenses.

Why is it Important?

If you’re a U.S. citizen, it’s likely your primary health care plan, such as Medicare or an employer sponsored policy, won’t cover overseas medical care. Without proper coverage, you’re responsible for paying all medical costs out-of-pocket.

Travel Medical Insurance acts as an international health insurance plan, offering reimbursement for unexpected medical bills during your trip abroad. While it’s likely that you may not ever need to use your plan, it may be worth the investment for the peace of mind alone.

How Much Does Travel Medical Insurance Cost?

There’s a common misconception that travel insurance is expensive. While this can be true for some policies, it’s very possible to find affordable health coverage for your next vacation that doesn’t break the bank.

According to Squaremouth data, the average cost of Travel Medical Insurance is roughly $97. Many of these plans also include protection against other travel disruptions, including delays, missed connections, baggage loss, and more.

Keep in mind that pricing can vary from one travel insurance provider to the next, so it’s important to shop around. Typically, providers price policies based on several risk factors including, but not limited to:

  • The age of the travelers covered by the policy
  • Your trip length
  • Your destination
  • Your trip costs
  • The type of coverage you choose (single-trip vs. Annual)
  • The coverage limits found within the policy
  • Any add-ons you choose to include

Medical Benefits Offered by Travel Insurance

When comparing travel insurance policies, the most important thing to look at is the coverage they each provide. Luckily, the majority of plans offer medical benefits that provide coverage overseas.

If your main concern is getting sick or injured during your trip, we recommend paying close attention to the following benefits:

Emergency Medical

Emergency Medical is one of the most important benefits among travel insurance customers. It covers the cost of unexpected medical bills you may encounter at any point during your trip. Due to the potentially high costs involved with seeking medical care abroad, we suggest you consider policies with at least $50,000 in Emergency Medical coverage.

Be mindful that some travel insurance providers may have you pay a medical deductible before coverage kicks in. While rare, Medical Deductibles can range from $50 to $2,500.

Medical Evacuation

If you get seriously sick or hurt while overseas, there’s a chance that the nearest medical facility won’t be the best one equipped to treat you. If a treating physician deems it necessary, the Medical Evacuation benefit will cover emergency transportation to another, more adequate medical facility or back to your home country.

The cost of a medical evacuation can quickly escalate in the tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands of dollars. For that reason, we recommend policies that offer at least $100,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage.

Pre-Existing Condition

Traveling with a pre-existing medical condition can be a tough task, especially if flare ups are likely to occur. While most travel insurance plans exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage, some providers offer what’s called a “Pre-Existing Condition Waiver.”

This waiver essentially extends your travel medical insurance to include coverage for conditions and illnesses that were present when you purchased your plan. Pre-Existing Condition coverage is a time-sensitive benefit, meaning to qualify you must buy your policy 10-14 days after making an initial trip payment.

Cancel for Medical Reasons

A medical emergency can occur at any time, even before you depart for your trip. Most comprehensive travel insurance plans include Trip Cancellation coverage that allows you to cancel your trip due to medical reasons and be reimbursed up to 100% of your prepaid, non-refundable trip costs.

Under most plans, covered medical reasons to cancel a trip include unforeseen illnesses, injuries, or death in the family. When filing a claim, you may be required to provide documentation to support your reason for cancellation.

24-Hour Emergency Assistance

The best travel insurance companies offer 24-Hour Emergency Assistance to their policyholders. Through this service, you can get support for a wide-range of challenges you may encounter while traveling, especially when it concerns health care. Examples include:

  • Overseas medical referrals
  • Arrangement of medical evacuations or repatriations
  • Medical claims support

How to Find the Best Medical Coverage For Your Next Trip:

There are more travel insurance policies available today than ever before. Knowing what you’re looking for and where to find it can make your search for international health insurance much more straightforward.

Below are a handful of our top tips that may be helpful to you as you evaluate your insurance options.

Determine How Much Medical Coverage You Need

As a baseline, you should be looking at policies with at least $50,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and at least $100,000 in Emergency Evacuation coverage for trips abroad. However, you may want even more health insurance coverage depending on your destination, your itinerary, and other trip details.

For example, travelers heading on a weeklong beach trip to Mexico may not need as much medical coverage as someone going backpacking in the Himalayan Mountains for a month.

It’s also important to take inventory of existing travel health insurance you may already have. Take some time to read through your primary health insurance policy to see if it offers coverage overseas. While rare, some travel credit cards may also include medical benefits.

Compare Plans From Multiple Insurance Providers

The only way to guarantee you’re getting the best plan is to get a quote from multiple travel insurance providers. You’ll be shocked at how much pricing can vary from one company to the next for similar coverage. In general, getting quotes from 3-5 providers is a good start.

You can do this manually or save time by using a travel insurance comparison website like Squaremouth. Whichever way you choose, be sure to pay close attention to each policy’s premium and medical coverage limits to determine which best fits your budget and travel needs.

Review Policy Exclusions & Limitations

Not all medical emergencies will be covered by insurance. Each travel medical insurance plan will have its own set of exclusions, which can be found in the Policy Details, that outlines what activities or scenarios would not be eligible for reimbursement.

While these exclusions will vary, most travel insurance providers won’t cover medical expenses that stem from:

  • Participation in an inherently dangerous sport or activity
  • Self-inflicted harm
  • Pre-existing medical conditions (unless stated otherwise)
  • Intoxication from alcohol or illegal substances
  • Routine physicals or checkups
  • Normal pregnancy or childbirth

Frequent Traveler? Consider an Annual Travel Insurance Plan

If you’re a frequent business or leisure traveler, it may be wise to consider an Annual travel insurance plan. Also known as “Multi-Trip Insurance,” this type of coverage offers trip protection for a 12-month span, no matter how many trips you decide to take during that period.

Annual plans can be cost-effective if you travel at least 2-3 times per year, and may be more convenient than purchasing a single-trip plan each time you travel.

The Bottom Line

A medical emergency can happen at any time. For peace of mind and financial protection abroad, it may be worth investing in a travel medical insurance policy.

Travel medical insurance covers unforeseen illnesses and injuries that may occur during your trip. Some plans also extend coverage to pre-existing medical conditions. If you’re nervous about having to cancel your trip due to medical reasons, we recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes Trip Cancellation coverage.

Get a quote today to begin your search for travel medical insurance.