The difference between travel insurance and travel medical insurance
March 22, 2018
It’s easy to confuse travel insurance with travel medical insurance, but they are two very different things. Most travelers are aware of travel insurance, but believe it to be something you would buy only if you were nervous about your trip being cancelled or your luggage going astray.
But travel medical insurance is something else entirely. Understanding the difference can help you decide the type of coverage you really need before you travel outside of the country.
A quick definition
Travel medical insurance is for people who are leaving the country and covers them while they are outside of the country. A travel medical policy focuses on emergency medical and dental. It also covers medical evacuation if it’s needed. Travel insurance, in contrast, primarily covers trip-related negatives, such as trip cancellation, trip interruption or lost baggage.
Why you might need travel medical insurance
Many health insurance plans do not cover you when you are out of the country. For those that do, the coverage is often limited and requires you to pay at the time of service, save receipts, and then file for reimbursement once you get home. In case of a medical or a dental emergency while in another country, this could mean maxing out your credit cards while you are still traveling.
Travel medical insurance plans typically cover emergency medical and dental costs. Emergency transportation costs, such as ambulance or air lift, also are covered as are emergency evacuations that would get you from a remote location to appropriate medical care.
How costs differ between the two
Travel medical insurance is surprisingly inexpensive. The costs to you are calculated based on your age, how long you’ll be out of the country, and the coverage amount and deductibles you select. In many cases, the cost is just a few dollars a day per traveler, with the total cost roughly equivalent to a nice restaurant meal for two.
Travel insurance, on the other hand, can be costly. If trip cancellation is included, a travel insurance policy’s price is based on the overall cost of your trip. So, if you plan to be gone for a few weeks and are staying in a hotel somewhere, your policy cost will be calculated based on the costs of those items. In a case like this, you should expect to pay several hundred dollars per traveler.
What travel medical insurance covers
Travel medical insurance can offer a surprisingly broad array of useful benefits. For example, with SafeTrip Travel Insurance from UnitedHealthcare Global, the following elements are standard with every International Travel Medical or International Travel Medical Plus policy:
- 24/7 help in finding local medical or dental care in another country
- Translation help in cases where language is a barrier
- Direct settlement of medical and dental expenses
- Coordination of and payment for emergency medical evacuation
- Monitoring of your treatment
- Replacement of lost or broken corrective lenses and medical devices
- Travel assistance, such as help in replacing lost travel documents, emergency travel arrangements, and legal referrals
For an extra fee, coverage for baggage loss, baggage delay, trip cancellation and trip interruption also are available.
Who should think about buying travel medical insurance?
Every traveler can benefit from the extra protection of travel medical insurance (see our guide on travel protection benefits for more information). Some in particular who may want to consider it include:
Families with children. Kids get sick and are less likely to be diligent about hand-washing and other basics that can keep germs at bay.
Anyone visiting a country that speaks a different language. Finding medical care in a strange place can be difficult enough. But a language barrier can make it seem impossible. Knowing you can get help fast from an English speaker makes a difference.
People with chronic conditions. If you’re traveling with diabetes, asthma or any other medical condition that could bring on an episode requiring care, a travel medical policy is an extra layer of protection.
Solo travelers. Whether traveling alone for business or for pleasure, your travel medical emergency response team is the helpful voice from home during a scary time.
Travelers to a remote location. Out-of-the-way exotic locales can be hotbeds of foodborne or insect-borne diseases, and medical care can be sketchy. Travel medical coverage can help you find local care or move you to a location where it’s available.
For a look at how SafeTrip Travel Protection would cover you on your next international trip, fill out the easy, no-commitment form. Tailor your benefits, choose your deductible, and get a free quote.