Top Secrets & Tricks to Getting Medical Travel Insurance

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Medical Travel Insurance

According to the US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), in 2018, a record of 47.8 million Americans traveled overseas. Going on vacation abroad is the perfect opportunity to make memories with loved ones, experience other cultures, and take a break from your busy home life. But what happens if your dream trip turns into a nightmare? If you, or a member of your party, becomes ill and requires medical treatment, it is unlikely that your health insurance will cover you overseas. And, with the cost of medical bills rising and a crackdown to make sure foreign travelers pay for their care abroad, medical travel insurance can save you from financial disaster. 

Staggeringly, only 69% of Americans who took part in a travel survey by AAA think medical travel insurance is a priority. If you want to understand more about the types of travel insurance coverage, continue reading for some helpful facts about medical travel insurance and a list of some of the best policies out there.

The benefits of emergency medical travel insurance

Repatriation

In addition to saving you thousands of dollars on overseas medical care, medical travel insurance can provide coverage for repatriation (return transportation) if you need to return home. The cost of being airlifted or onboard medical equipment is expensive, and the price increases the further you are away from home. You may also be able to receive coverage for your remains if tragedy should strike, taking the pressure off your loved ones.

Flights for a loved one to assist you abroad

Loved ones often feel the stress if you get sick or injured overseas. Medical travel insurance can also provide compensation to allow a member of your family to join you at your destination while you remain in the hospital. You can also receive financial help for flights if members of your party need to return home.

24-hour assistance

The best medical travel policies include 24-hour assistance and have multi-lingual operators to support you if you need any of the following:

  • Information on immunizations
  • Locating the nearest medical facilities
  • Support from medical experts on healthcare in a foreign country
  • Relay information to your physician back home
  • Assist in the replacement of lost medical equipment while you are abroad

The three main types of travel insurance

Ensuring you have the correct type of coverage is just as important as the right level of coverage. Here is a brief overview of the types of travel insurance you should have when traveling abroad.

Trip cancellation insurance

This type of coverage will protect your trip in the event of cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances. There can be many reasons why vacations are canceled, for example, flight delays, hotel problems, or health problems. Trip cancellation insurance does not generally cover any medical care you need. Some policies cover the cost of your trip if you have to cancel for bereavements or sick travelers. You need to check your policy carefully to find out the level of coverage and any exclusions.

Travel health insurance

This is the correct policy to ensure that you are covered for any health-related problems while you are abroad. If you are sick or injured abroad and need to use medical services, you will be asked to pay upfront for any medical care. Paying upfront is still the case if the country you are visiting has a nationalized health care service. Your medical travel insurance will ensure you are reimbursed or will pay on your behalf if you have the right protection.

Medical evacuation insurance

This covers if you become seriously ill, have a significant accident, or are traveling to a remote location with poor hospital care. Medical evacuation (medevac) insurance covers you for repatriation to the US for better care and treatment. The cost of coverage varies greatly, and this option is not always part of your travel medical insurance. Although there may be an option to add it to your policy.

When travel medical insurance is required

Some countries require visitors to have adequate insurance before they enter the country.

Currently, the following listed countries are on the state department’s website:

  • Antarctica: Due to the high cost of medical evacuation and hospitalization, all visitors must have their travel insurance which covers medical expenses.
  • Countries covered by the Schengen visa: The 26 European countries that allow travel between them without border controls.
  • Cuba: US citizens must show proof of their travel medical insurance before they are granted entry to the country.
  • Ecuador: All visitors to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands must show proof of travel medical insurance to gain entry.
  • United Arab Emirates: Anyone planning to stay more than 30 days is required to have medical insurance for their travels. Anyone traveling for less than this period does not have to show proof before entry.

Depending on your citizenship and length of stay, the country you are traveling to may require other arrangements. To stay up to date, visit the State Department’s website.

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A small price to pay for financial security

What is the average cost of medical travel insurance?

The price of medical travel insurance will vary from trip to trip and person to person. A lot of travel websites will try to tell you an average cost of travel insurance, but we feel this is terrible advice. There are a lot of factors that go into pricing an insurance policy, and it all comes down to risk. For example, if you are a lone traveler, mid 30’s, no pre-existing conditions, traveling to Europe for sightseeing; you’re seen as less risky than an 80-year-old couple, with heart problems, going to the alps for a ski vacation. Statistically, the second example would result in an insurance claim because there is a higher risk of medical bills. To help cover their losses, insurance companies will increase premiums, the higher the risk you represent.

We did some research based on a person with no pre-existing conditions and found out that the policy price range was $7 – $200. The cost of medevac insurance was around $100. So, what’s stopping you from purchasing something that will save you money on your next trip?

I want to purchase medical travel insurance, what’s next?

The next step you should take is deciding which policy to purchase. Depending on your circumstances, pre-existing medical history, and duration of your trip, each insurance company will provide you with a quote for coverage. Quotes are usually saved for up to 30 days as prices fluctuate each day.

When you are providing your information for a quote, make sure you keep everything the same for each insurer for comparable rates. Be honest about any pre-existing conditions any party member may have.

The importance of being honest with your insurer

Adding pre-existing conditions to your medical coverage will increase your premium. However, if you’re considering misinforming your insurance provider, you may want to think again. If the time comes where you must make a claim, your insurance provider will need all the relevant information from the medical center who is treating you. If it comes to light that you had a previous medical condition and you have not paid the right premium, the insurance company may not pay out. Leaving you out of pocket and at risk of being charged with committing fraud, leaving you with a criminal record.

If you’re unsure what a pre-existing condition is, here is a list of some of the most common conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions (angina, cardiomyopathy, etc.)
  • Breathing conditions (asthma, COPD, etc.)
  • Mental or physical disabilities (including depression and anxiety)
  • Blood conditions (high cholesterol, high/low blood pressure)
  • Neurological conditions (epilepsy, stroke, etc.)
  • Any treatment relating to cancer within the last five years
  • Any conditions concerning hospital stays/surgery within the previous 12 months
  • HIV
  • Allergies
  • Hernias
  • Gallstones

By declaring your conditions, you are protecting yourself from a hefty bill or fine. If you are unsure if you should state a medical condition, you should contact the insurer for their advice. Each insurer will have different terms and conditions concerning their coverage, so it is best to be informed by the experts.

The best medical travel insurance policies for your needs

Researching medical insurance can be confusing, time-consuming, and easy to leave until the last minute. To save you some time, we’ve created an overview of some of the best medical travel plans based on different travelers’ requirements.

Best for frequent fliers

Insurer: Allianz

Website: https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com

Recommended plan: AllTrips Premier

What’s included

  • Coverage: Annual plan
  • Trip cancellation: $2,000
  • Trip interruption: $2,000 of the unused, non-refundable part of your trip and any increase in the transportation costs you must take to return home for any covered reason.
  • Emergency medical: $50,000 for losses on covered medical or dental emergencies during your trip.
  • Emergency medical transportation: $500,000 for transport to the nearest hospital or facility.
  • Baggage loss/damage: $2,000 for the loss, theft, or damage of baggage and personal items.
  • Baggage delay: $2,000 for the delay of baggage over 24 hours and any purchases for essential items during this time.
  • Rental car damage and theft: $45,000 in the result of an accident or theft of the vehicle (not available in all states).
  • Travel accident coverage: $50,000 cash payment for losses due to death, loss of limbs, or sight if caused by a travel accident.
  • 24-hour assistance: Yes
  • Concierge: Personalized information on your destination, make reservations at restaurants, book tickets to events, and more.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: Your plan may waive the exclusion for pre-existing medical conditions or provide additional coverage based on your criteria. Speak to Allianz for individual advice.

Why we chose this plan

With all-year-round coverage, Allianz AllTrips Premier covers multiple trips throughout the year. The additional upgrade to the emergency evacuation coverage allows for up to $1,000,000, so you can rest easy. This policy covers children under 17 for free, which can otherwise add a lot more onto a policy premium if you have multiple children.

Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. Allianz also offers other plans which may be more suited to your needs.

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Medical Travel Insurance

Best for bargain hunters

Insurer: Seven Corners

Website: https://www.sevencorners.com

Recommended plan: Liaison Travel Choice

What’s included

  • Coverage: 5 days to 364 days
  • Schengen Visa: Eligible if you choose at least $50,000 medical maximum and a $0 deductible.
  • Emergency medical maximum if aged 14 days – 69 years: choose from $50,000, $100,000, $500,000, $1,000,000, $2,000,000, $5,000,000.
  • Emergency medical maximum if aged 70 – 79 years: choose from $50,000 or $100,000.
  • Medical maximum for emergencies if aged 80+ years: $15,000
  • Emergency medical transportation to nearest hospital: $10,000
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: $500,000
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): Yes
  • Trip interruption: $5,000 of the unused, non-refundable part of your trip and any increase in the transportation costs you must take to return home for any covered reason.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: $50,000/$10,000 depending on age and terms and conditions.
  • Baggage loss/damage: $50 per article

Why we chose this plan

Seven corners provide ample coverage for medical emergencies and evacuation for as little as $7 per policy. With the added value such as trip interruption and loss of baggage, we think this is a winner for anyone on a budget.

Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. Seven corners also offer other plans within the Liaison Travel Medical category, which may be more suited to your needs.

Best for families

Insurer: Travelex

Website: https://www.travelexinsurance.com

Recommended plan: Travel Select

What’s included

  • Coverage: Single trip
  • Bonus: Addition of children under 17 to the policy at no extra cost.
  • Emergency medical: $50,000
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: $500,000
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): $25,000
  • Trip interruption: 150% of the cost of the trip
  • Trip cancellation: 100% of the cost of the trip
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: waived if insurance purchased within 21 days of initial trip deposit.
  • Baggage loss/damage: $1,000

Why we chose this policy

Children up to the age of 17 are covered for free, which is a big bonus for families. We also appreciate the pre-existing medical conditions terms and find them to be fairly reasonable compared to most policies.

Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. Travelex also offers other plans which may be more suited to your needs.

Best for extreme sports enthusiasts and adventurers

Insurer: IMG

Website: https://www.imglobal.com

Recommended plan: iTravelInsured LX

What’s included

  • Max trip: 90 days
  • Emergency medical: $500,000
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: $1,000,000
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): $100,000
  • Search & Rescue: $10,000
  • Trip interruption: 150% of the cost of the trip
  • Trip cancellation: up to $100,000
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: waived if insurance purchased within 24 hours of final trip payment
  • Baggage loss/damage: $2,500
  • Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. IMG also offers other plans which may be more suited to your needs.

Why we chose this policy

The addition of up to $1,000,000 in evacuation costs is perfect for adventurous travelers who are stuck far away from a medical facility. You also have a higher risk of serious injury so that this coverage will be enough for evacuation back home. The addition of $10,000 in search and rescue costs is also unique, and we feel it would benefit most thrill-seekers who may venture off the beaten track.

Best for solo travelers

Insurer: John Hancock

Website: https://www.johnhancocktravel.com

Recommended plan: Silver Plan

What’s included

  • Max trip: 90 days
  • Emergency medical: $500,000
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: $500,000
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): $100,000
  • Trip interruption: 150% of the cost of the trip
  • Trip cancellation: 100% of the cost of the trip
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: 60 days look back, 14-day waiver if within terms and conditions
  • Baggage loss/damage: $1,000

Why we chose this policy

Unlike most medical insurers, John Hancock has a high-value emergency medical coverage section. The offering of no deductions is also a peace of mind for lone travelers who may not have as many available funds as those who travel with others.

Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. John Hancock also offers other plans which may be more suited to your needs.

Best for students

Insurer: IMG

Website: https://www.imglobal.com

Recommended plan: Student Health Advantage Platinum International

What’s included

  • Max trip: annually renewable
  • Emergency medical: $1,000,000
  • Local ambulance: $750 per illness
  • Dental: up to $500
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: $500,000
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): $25,000
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: charges excluded until after six months of continuous coverage.

Additional coverage: 

  • Coinsurance
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Intensive care
  • Mental health
  • Prescription drugs
  • And more

Why we chose this policy

Although the majority of coverage looks like most travel insurance, the additional coverage covers plenty of situations you might find yourself in throughout your studies. The $1,000,000 limit for emergency medicine is also very generous.

Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. IMG also offers other plans which may be more suited to your needs.

Best for pre-existing conditions and pregnant travelers

Insurer: GeoBlue

Website: https://www.geobluetravelinsurance.com

Recommended plan: Voyager Choice 

What’s included

  • Max trip: 182 days
  • Emergency medical: $50,000, $100,000, $500,000 or $1,000,000
  • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: $500,000
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D): $50,000
  • Dental: $500 injury, $250 pain relief

Additional coverage:

  • Complications of pregnancy
  • Terrorism
  • 24-hour assistance
  • Trip interruption: $500 return air only
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: covered (no lookback period)
  • Baggage loss/damage: $100 per bag

Why we chose this policy

Pregnancy can be a difficult thing for any mother, and if something goes wrong at home, it’s scary. The thought of something happening while you’re abroad is even worse. The additional complications of pregnancy coverage will bring peace of mind to any family-to-be. This policy is also one of the only ones that cover pre-existing medical conditions without any lookback period. It’s worth looking into if you fall into one of these categories.

Please visit the website for further coverage options and benefits. GeoBlue also offers other plans which may be more suited to your needs.

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Best for Seniors

Insurer: GeoBlue

Website: https://www.geobluetravelinsurance.com

Recommended plan: Voyager Choice 

What’s included

This coverage information is the same as above but includes the following benefits for senior travelers:

  • Pre-existing conditions covered for medical services and evacuation
  • Insurance coverage for anyone up to 85 years
  • Coverage amounts do not drop at age limit intervals like most plans

Why we chose this policy

Seniors often get a rough deal when it comes to insurance policies, but GeoBlue insures anyone up to the age of 85, no questions asked. Their pre-existing conditions coverage is also second to none. On top of that, the amount of coverage does not decrease with age.

The best travel insurance comparison website

Choosing travel insurance is a mammoth task. You need to make sure you have the correct amount of coverage for each member of your party who is traveling. If you don’t get it right, you could end up with a hefty medical bill.

We’ve shown you the best medical coverage based on category, but what if you don’t fit into one of those or you want help making up your mind? Use a price comparison website.

Insuremytrip.com is a great website that allows you to filter travel insurance policies based on your requirements. Choose your preferred plan type and coverage options, and the site will automatically populate results from its partners.

One thing to remember about price comparison websites is that they don’t always include all insurers. If the insurer you want is not there, go directly to their website for an individual quote. Sometimes this can save you money as price comparison websites can add commission onto the premiums.  

Things to remember before you travel

Medical Travel Insurance

Taking the time to plan your vacation carefully will help prevent any unwanted mishaps along the way. Here is a handy checklist to help you stay organized and enjoy a smooth trip without any hiccups.

What to do before you travel

#1: Check your domestic health insurance policy to check what exclusions there are overseas. Confirming your coverage will help you determine how much protection and what conditions your travel medical insurance policy should cover.

#2: Purchase your travel health insurance coverage honestly and inform your insurer of any pre-existing conditions. By providing the correct information, you will prevent any denial of coverage.

#3: Check the area and region where you are visiting for their local medical services. Then, when you have an emergency, you will be better prepared for the trip to a local doctor or ER department.

#4: Contact your travel medical insurer and ask them to confirm that the policy will cover you in the area you are visiting.

Questions you must ask yourself when selecting an insurance policy

If you’ve read our brief list of insurance providers, you’ll notice that each plan offers different coverage. Plus, they will suit different people based on their needs. It is so important to check the terms and conditions of your policy to make sure it is the right one for you.

  • Does the insurance provide enough coverage for emergency medical care?
  • Is evacuation included?
  • Can I receive compensation for any travel and accommodation costs for family members if I get sick or injured?
  • Is there a 24-hour helpline if I should need emergency assistance?
  • Do I have sufficient coverage for every person insured on the policy?
  • Does this insurance cover the country and area I am visiting?
  • Will this policy cover my pre-existing medical conditions?
  • Do I need additional coverage if I am taking part in adventure activities?

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Items to take while you are traveling

Getting to your journey isn’t the end of where your super organizational skills are needed. To be best prepared for any outcome, it is best to follow the following tips:

Keep your insurance documents on you at all times.

A lot of vacationers take excursions, which can be miles away from their hotel. To combat stress in an emergency, carrying your documents may save precious time when you need to contact medical help.

Keep emergency contact details of your insurers and their claim number separate.

By writing these details on a piece of paper and inserting them into your wallet, you save the need to look through paperwork hunting for the number.

Keep any receipts and invoices you receive from medical providers.

These receipts are for proof if your insurance company requests them when you return home.

More Resources

Why not check out our other travel guides to save you even more money on your vacation?

The best airline loyalty programs

Become an extreme saver of the skies with our in-depth guide and review of airline loyalty programs. It’s packed full of secrets that airlines don’t want you to know and ways to save hundreds of dollars on flights.

Last-minute travel deals

Feeling spontaneous? Want to surprise a loved one with the ultimate romantic gesture? Check out our showcase of the best last-minute travel deals sites to save a lot of money on your next trip.

Cheap health insurance

Providing you with up to date information on your options for health insurance coverage, including information on Medicaid, employer policies, and how to save money when choosing coverage. Also, check out our health insurance 101 guide.

Suggested Reading: The Best Health Insurance Companies for July 2020

Best dental insurance

With the increasing cost of dental bills, having a dental plan has never been more important. Our handy guide helps you understand what types of coverage are out there and how to get the best dental insurance in the US.

Affordable dental insurance

Once you understand what to look for in a dental plan, we help you find the most affordable dental insurance based on your requirements. With our easy-to-follow guide, saving money on insurance doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth!

Life insurance

In life, we insure our cars, homes, vacations, and our pets, but we often forget about the most important thing. Ourselves. If you want to become one of the many Americans making sure their family remains financially secure; read our Life Insurance 101 guide.

Car insurance

Keep your vehicle on the open road with our simple guide to car insurance. Learn what a car insurance policy is and how it can protect you and your wallet more than you thought!

Next Steps

Do you have your own resources or advice on getting travel medical insurance? Drop us a line in the comments below.

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Kristin Juliet lambert

I would rather go for the money than the trip