The best travel insurance policies and providers

Katie Genter

It's easy to dismiss the value of travel insurance until you need it.

Many travelers have strong opinions about whether you should buy travel insurance . However, the purpose of this post isn't to determine whether it's worth investing in. Instead, it compares some of the top travel insurance providers and policies so you can determine which travel insurance option is best for you.

Of course, as the coronavirus remains an ongoing concern, it's important to understand whether travel insurance covers pandemics. Some policies will cover you if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and have proof of illness from a doctor. Others will take coverage a step further, covering additional types of pandemic-related expenses and cancellations.

Know, though, that every policy will have exclusions and restrictions that may limit coverage. For example, fear of travel is generally not a covered reason for invoking trip cancellation or interruption coverage, while specific stipulations may apply to elevated travel warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Interested in travel insurance? Visit InsureMyTrip.com to shop for plans that may fit your travel needs.

So, before buying a specific policy, you must understand the full terms and any special notices the insurer has about COVID-19. You may even want to buy the optional cancel for any reason add-on that's available for some comprehensive policies. While you'll pay more for that protection, it allows you to cancel your trip for any reason and still get some of your costs back. Note that this benefit is time-sensitive and has other eligibility requirements, so not all travelers will qualify.

In this guide, we'll review several policies from top travel insurance providers so you have a better understanding of your options before picking the policy and provider that best address your wants and needs.

The best travel insurance providers

To put together this list of the best travel insurance providers, a number of details were considered: favorable ratings from TPG Lounge members, the availability of details about policies and the claims process online, positive online ratings and the ability to purchase policies in most U.S. states. You can also search for options from these (and other) providers through an insurance comparison site like InsureMyTrip .

When comparing insurance providers, I priced out a single-trip policy for each provider for a $2,000, one-week vacation to Istanbul . I used my actual age and state of residence when obtaining quotes. As a result, you may see a different price — or even additional policies due to regulations for travel insurance varying from state to state — when getting a quote.

AIG Travel Guard

AIG Travel Guard receives many positive reviews from readers in the TPG Lounge who have filed claims with the company. AIG offers three plans online, which you can compare side by side, and the ability to examine sample policies. Here are three plans for my sample trip to Turkey.

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AIG Travel Guard also offers an annual travel plan. This plan is priced at $259 per year for one Florida resident.

Additionally, AIG Travel Guard offers several other policies, including a single-trip policy without trip cancellation protection . See AIG Travel Guard's COVID-19 notification and COVID-19 advisory for current details regarding COVID-19 coverage.

Preexisting conditions

Typically, AIG Travel Guard wouldn't cover you for any loss or expense due to a preexisting medical condition that existed within 180 days of the coverage effective date. However, AIG Travel Guard may waive the preexisting medical condition exclusion on some plans if you meet the following conditions:

  • You purchase the plan within 15 days of your initial trip payment.
  • The amount of coverage you purchase equals all trip costs at the time of purchase. You must update your coverage to insure the costs of any subsequent arrangements that you add to your trip within 15 days of paying the travel supplier for these additional arrangements.
  • You must be medically able to travel when you purchase your plan.

Standout features

  • The Deluxe and Preferred plans allow you to purchase an upgrade that lets you cancel your trip for any reason. However, reimbursement under this coverage will not exceed 50% or 75% of your covered trip cost.
  • You can include one child (age 17 and younger) with each paying adult for no additional cost on most single-trip plans.
  • Other optional upgrades, including an adventure sports bundle, a baggage bundle, an inconvenience bundle, a pet bundle, a security bundle and a wedding bundle, are available on some policies. So, an AIG Travel Guard plan may be a good choice if you know you want extra coverage in specific areas.

Purchase your policy here: AIG Travel Guard .

Allianz Travel Insurance

Allianz is one of the most highly regarded providers in the TPG Lounge, and many readers found the claim process reasonable. Allianz offers many plans, including the following single-trip plans for my sample trip to Turkey.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

If you travel frequently, it may make sense to purchase an annual multi-trip policy. For this plan, all of the maximum coverage amounts in the table below are per trip (except for the trip cancellation and trip interruption amounts, which are an aggregate limit per policy). Trips typically must last no more than 45 days, although some plans may cover trips of up to 90 days.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

See Allianz's coverage alert for current information on COVID-19 coverage.

Most Allianz travel insurance plans may cover preexisting medical conditions if you meet particular requirements. For the OneTrip Premier, Prime and Basic plans, the requirements are as follows:

  • You purchased the policy within 14 days of the date of the first trip payment or deposit.
  • You were a U.S. resident when you purchased the policy.
  • You were medically able to travel when you purchased the policy.
  • On the policy purchase date, you insured the total, nonrefundable cost of your trip (including arrangements that will become nonrefundable or subject to cancellation penalties before your departure date). If you incur additional nonrefundable trip expenses after purchasing this policy, you must insure them within 14 days of their purchase.
  • Allianz offers reasonably priced annual policies for independent travelers and families who take multiple trips lasting up to 45 days (or 90 days for select plans) per year.
  • Some Allianz plans provide the option of receiving a flat reimbursement amount without receipts for trip delay and baggage delay claims. Of course, you can also submit receipts to get up to the maximum refund.
  • For emergency transportation coverage, you or someone on your behalf must contact Allianz, and Allianz must then make all transportation arrangements in advance. However, most Allianz policies provide an option if you cannot contact the company: Allianz will pay up to what it would have paid if it had made the arrangements.

Purchase your policy here: Allianz Travel Insurance .

American Express Travel Insurance

American Express Travel Insurance offers four different package plans and a build-your-own coverage option. You don't have to be an American Express cardholder to purchase this insurance. Here are the four package options for my sample weeklong trip to Turkey. Unlike some other providers, Amex won't ask for your travel destination on the initial quote (but will when you purchase the plan).

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Amex's build-your-own coverage plan is unique because you can purchase just the coverage you need. For most types of protection, you can even select the coverage amount that works best for you.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

The prices for the packages and the build-your-own plan don't increase for longer trips — as long as the trip cost remains constant. However, the emergency medical and dental benefit is only available for your first 60 days of travel.

Typically, Amex won't cover any loss you incur because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 90 days of the coverage effective date. However, Amex may waive its preexisting-condition exclusion if you meet both of the following requirements:

  • You must be medically able to travel at the time you pay the policy premium.
  • You pay the policy premium within 14 days of making the first covered trip deposit.
  • Amex's build-your-own coverage option allows you to only purchase — and pay for — the coverage you need.
  • Coverage on long trips doesn't cost more than coverage for short trips, making this policy ideal for extended getaways. However, the emergency medical and dental benefit only covers your first 60 days of travel.
  • American Express Travel Insurance can protect travel expenses you purchase with Amex Membership Rewards points in the Pay with Points program (as well as travel expenses bought with cash, debit or credit). However, travel expenses bought with other types of points and miles aren't covered.

Purchase your policy here: American Express Travel Insurance .

GeoBlue is different from most other providers described in this piece because it only provides medical coverage while you're traveling internationally and does not offer benefits to protect the cost of your trip. There are many different policies. Some require you to have primary health insurance in the U.S. (although it doesn't need to be provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield), but all of them only offer coverage while traveling outside the U.S.

Two single-trip plans are available if you're traveling for six months or less. The Voyager Choice policy provides coverage (including medical services and medical evacuation for a sudden recurrence of a preexisting condition) for trips outside the U.S. to travelers who are 95 or younger and already have a U.S. health insurance policy.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

The Voyager Essential policy provides coverage (including medical evacuation for a sudden recurrence of a preexisting condition) for trips outside the U.S. to travelers who are 95 or younger, regardless of whether they have primary health insurance.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

In addition to these options, two multi-trip plans cover trips of up to 70 days each for one year. Both policies provide coverage (including medical services and medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) to travelers with primary health insurance.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Be sure to check out GeoBlue's COVID-19 notices before buying a plan.

Most GeoBlue policies explicitly cover sudden recurrences of preexisting conditions for medical services and medical evacuation.

  • GeoBlue can be an excellent option if you're mainly concerned about the medical side of travel insurance.
  • GeoBlue provides single-trip, multi-trip and long-term medical travel insurance policies for many different types of travel.

Purchase your policy here: GeoBlue .

IMG offers various travel medical insurance policies for travelers, as well as comprehensive travel insurance policies. For a single trip of 90 days or less, there are five policy types available for vacation or holiday travelers. Although you must enter your gender, males and females received the same quote for my one-week search.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

You can purchase an annual multi-trip travel medical insurance plan. Some only cover trips lasting up to 30 or 45 days, but others provide coverage for longer trips.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

See IMG's page on COVID-19 for additional policy information as it relates to coronavirus-related claims.

Most plans may cover preexisting conditions under set parameters or up to specific amounts. For example, the iTravelInsured Travel LX travel insurance plan shown above may cover preexisting conditions if you purchase the insurance within 24 hours of making the final payment for your trip.

For the travel medical insurance plans shown above, preexisting conditions are covered for travelers younger than 70. However, coverage is capped based on your age and whether you have a primary health insurance policy.

  • Some annual multi-trip plans are modestly priced.
  • iTravelInsured Travel LX may offer optional cancel for any reason and interruption for any reason coverage, if eligible.

Purchase your policy here: IMG .

Travelex Insurance

Travelex offers three single-trip plans: Travel Basic, Travel Select and Travel America. However, only the Travel Basic and Travel Select plans would be applicable for my trip to Turkey.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

See Travelex's COVID-19 coverage statement for coronavirus-specific information.

Typically, Travelex won't cover losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 60 days of the coverage effective date. However, the Travel Select plan may offer a preexisting condition exclusion waiver. To be eligible for this waiver, the insured traveler must meet all the following conditions:

  • You purchase the plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment.
  • The amount of coverage purchased equals all prepaid, nonrefundable payments or deposits applicable to the trip at the time of purchase. Additionally, you must insure the costs of any subsequent arrangements added to the same trip within 15 days of payment or deposit.
  • All insured individuals are medically able to travel when they pay the plan cost.
  • The trip cost does not exceed the maximum trip cost limit under trip cancellation as shown in the schedule per person (only applicable to trip cancellation, interruption and delay).
  • Travelex's Travel Select policy can cover trips lasting up to 364 days, which is longer than many single-trip policies.
  • Neither Travelex policy requires receipts for trip and baggage delay expenses less than $25.
  • For emergency evacuation coverage, you or someone on your behalf must contact Travelex and have Travelex make all transportation arrangements in advance. However, both Travelex policies provide an option if you cannot contact Travelex: Travelex will pay up to what it would have paid if it had made the arrangements.

Purchase your policy here: Travelex Insurance .

Seven Corners

Seven Corners offers a wide variety of policies. Here are the policies that are most applicable to travelers on a single international trip.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Seven Corners also offers many other types of travel insurance, including an annual multi-trip plan. You can choose coverage for trips of up to 30, 45 or 60 days when purchasing an annual multi-trip plan.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

See Seven Corner's page on COVID-19 for additional policy information as it relates to coronavirus-related claims.

Typically, Seven Corners won't cover losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition. However, the RoundTrip Choice plan offers a preexisting condition exclusion waiver. To be eligible for this waiver, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • You buy this plan within 20 days of making your initial trip payment or deposit.
  • You or your travel companion are medically able and not disabled from travel when you pay for this plan or upgrade your plan.
  • You update the coverage to include the additional cost of subsequent travel arrangements within 15 days of paying your travel supplier for them.
  • Seven Corners offers the ability to purchase optional sports and golf equipment coverage. If purchased, this extra insurance will reimburse you for the cost of renting sports or golf equipment if yours is lost, stolen, damaged or delayed by a common carrier for six or more hours. However, Seven Corners must authorize the expenses in advance.
  • You can add cancel for any reason coverage or trip interruption for any reason coverage to RoundTrip plans. Although some other providers offer cancel for any reason coverage, trip interruption for any reason coverage is less common.
  • Seven Corners' RoundTrip Choice policy offers a political or security evacuation benefit that will transport you to the nearest safe place or your residence under specific conditions. You can also add optional event ticket registration fee protection to the RoundTrip Choice policy.

Purchase your policy here: Seven Corners .

World Nomads

World Nomads is popular with younger, active travelers because of its flexibility and adventure-activities coverage on the Explorer plan. Unlike many policies offered by other providers, you don't need to estimate prepaid costs when purchasing the insurance to have access to trip interruption and cancellation insurance.

World Nomads offers two single-trip plans.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

World Nomads has a page dedicated to coronavirus coverage , so be sure to view it before buying a policy.

World Nomads won't cover losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition (except emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains) that existed within 90 days of the coverage effective date. Unlike many other providers, World Nomads doesn't offer a waiver.

  • World Nomads' policies cover more adventure sports than most providers, so activities such as bungee jumping are included. The Explorer policy covers almost any adventure sport, including skydiving, stunt flying and caving. So, if you partake in adventure sports while traveling, the Explorer policy may be a good fit.
  • World Nomads' policies provide nonmedical evacuation coverage for transportation expenses if there is civil or political unrest in the country you are visiting. The coverage may also transport you home if there is an eligible natural disaster or a government expels you.

Purchase your policy here: World Nomads .

Other options for buying travel insurance

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

This guide details the policies of eight providers with the information available at the time of publication. There are many options when it comes to travel insurance, though. To compare different policies quickly, you can use a travel insurance aggregator like InsureMyTrip to search. Just note that these search engines won't show every policy and every provider, and you should still research the provided policies to ensure the coverage fits your trip and needs.

You can also purchase a plan through various membership associations, such as USAA, AAA or Costco. Typically, these organizations partner with a specific provider, so if you are a member of any of these associations, you may want to compare the policies offered through the organization with other policies to get the best coverage for your trip.

Related: Should you get travel insurance if you have credit card protection?

Is travel insurance worth getting?

Whether you should purchase travel insurance is a personal decision. Suppose you use a credit card that provides travel insurance for most of your expenses and have medical insurance that provides adequate coverage abroad. In that case, you may be covered enough on most trips to forgo purchasing travel insurance.

However, suppose your medical insurance won't cover you at your destination and you can't comfortably cover a sizable medical evacuation bill or last-minute flight home . In that case, you should consider purchasing travel insurance. If you travel frequently, buying an annual multi-trip policy may be worth it.

What is the best COVID-19 travel insurance?

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

There are various aspects to keep in mind in the age of COVID-19. Consider booking travel plans that are fully refundable or have modest change or cancellation fees so you don't need to worry about whether your policy will cover trip cancellation. This is important since many standard comprehensive insurance policies won't reimburse your insured expenses in the event of cancellation if it's related to the fear of traveling due to COVID-19.

However, if you book a nonrefundable trip and want to maintain the ability to get reimbursed (up to 75% of your insured costs) if you choose to cancel, you should consider buying a comprehensive travel insurance policy and then adding optional cancel for any reason protection. Just note that this benefit is time-sensitive and has eligibility requirements, so not all travelers will qualify.

Providers will often require CFAR purchasers insure the entire dollar amount of their travels to receive the coverage. Also, many CFAR policies mandate that you must cancel your plans and notify all travel suppliers at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure.

Likewise, if your primary health insurance won't cover you while on your trip, it's essential to consider whether medical expenses related to COVID-19 treatment are covered. You may also want to consider a MedJet medical transport membership if your trip is to a covered destination for coronavirus-related evacuation.

Ultimately, the best pandemic travel insurance policy will depend on your trip details, travel concerns and your willingness to self-insure. Just be sure to thoroughly read and understand any terms or exclusions before purchasing.

What are the different types of travel insurance?

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Whether you purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy or rely on the protections offered by select credit cards, you may have access to the following types of coverage:

  • Baggage delay protection may reimburse for essential items and clothing when a common carrier (such as an airline) fails to deliver your checked bag within a set time of your arrival at a destination. Typically, you may be reimbursed up to a particular amount per incident or per day.
  • Lost/damaged baggage protection may provide reimbursement to replace lost or damaged luggage and items inside that luggage. However, valuables and electronics usually have a relatively low maximum benefit.
  • Trip delay reimbursement may provide reimbursement for necessary items, food, lodging and sometimes transportation when you're delayed for a substantial time while traveling on a common carrier such as an airline. This insurance may be beneficial if weather issues (or other covered reasons for which the airline usually won't provide compensation) delay you.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection may provide reimbursement if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason, such as a death in your family or jury duty.
  • Medical evacuation insurance can arrange and pay for medical evacuation if deemed necessary by the insurance provider and a medical professional. This coverage can be particularly valuable if you're traveling to a region with subpar medical facilities.
  • Travel accident insurance may provide a payment to you or your beneficiary in the case of your death or dismemberment.
  • Emergency medical insurance may provide payment or reimburse you if you must seek medical care while traveling. Some plans only cover emergency medical care, but some also cover other types of medical care. You may need to pay a deductible or copay.
  • Rental car coverage may provide a collision damage waiver when renting a car. This waiver may reimburse for collision damage or theft up to a set amount. Some policies also cover loss-of-use charges assessed by the rental company and towing charges to take the vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility. You generally need to decline the rental company's collision damage waiver or similar provision to be covered.

Should I buy travel health insurance?

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

If you purchase travel with credit cards that provide various trip protections, you may not see much need for additional travel insurance. However, you may still wonder whether you should buy travel medical insurance.

If your primary health insurance covers you on your trip, you may not need travel health insurance. Your domestic policy may not cover you outside the U.S., though, so it's worth calling the number on your health insurance card if you have coverage questions. If your primary health insurance wouldn't cover you, it's likely worth purchasing travel medical insurance. After all, as you can see above, travel medical insurance is often very modestly priced.

How much does travel insurance cost?

Travel insurance costs depend on various factors, including the provider, the type of coverage, your trip cost, your destination, your age, your residency and how many travelers you want to insure. That said, a standard travel insurance plan will generally set you back somewhere between 4% and 10% of your total trip cost. However, this can get lower for more basic protections or become even higher if you include add-ons like cancel for any reason protection.

The best way to determine how much travel insurance will cost is to price out your trip with a few providers discussed in the guide. Or, visit an insurance aggregator like InsureMyTrip to quickly compare options across multiple providers.

When and how to get travel insurance

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

For the most robust selection of available travel insurance benefits — including time-sensitive add-ons like CFAR protection and waivers of preexisting conditions for eligible travelers — you should ideally purchase travel insurance on the same day you make your first payment toward your trip.

However, many plans may still offer a preexisting conditions waiver for those who qualify if you buy your travel insurance within 14 to 21 days of your first trip expense or deposit (this time frame may vary by provider). If you don't need a preexisting conditions waiver or aren't interested in CFAR coverage, you can purchase travel insurance once your departure date nears.

You must purchase coverage before it's needed. Some travel medical plans are available for purchase after you have departed, but comprehensive plans that include medical coverage must be purchased before departing.

Additionally, you can't buy any medical coverage once you require medical attention. The same applies to all travel insurance coverage. Once you recognize the need, it's too late to protect your trip.

Once you've shopped around and decided upon the best travel insurance plan for your trip, you should be able to complete your purchase online. You'll usually be able to download your insurance card and the complete policy shortly after the transaction is complete.

Related: 7 times your credit card's travel insurance might not cover you

Bottom line

Not all travel insurance policies and providers are equal. Before buying a plan, read and understand the policy documents. By doing so, you can choose a plan that's appropriate for you and your trip — including the features that matter most to you.

For example, if you plan to go skiing or rock climbing, make sure the policy you buy doesn't contain exclusions for these activities. Likewise, if you're making two back-to-back trips during which you'll be returning home for a short time in between, be sure the plan doesn't terminate coverage at the end of your first trip.

If you're looking to cover a sudden recurrence of a preexisting condition, select a policy with a preexisting condition waiver and fulfill the requirements for the waiver. After all, buying insurance won't help if your policy doesn't cover your losses.

Disclaimer : This information is provided by IMT Services, LLC ( InsureMyTrip.com ), a licensed insurance producer (NPN: 5119217) and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. IMT's services are only available in states where it is licensed to do business and the products provided through InsureMyTrip.com may not be available in all states. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy, and all related decisions (such as approval for coverage, premiums, commissions and fees) and policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the underwriting insurer. The information on this site does not create or modify any insurance policy terms in any way. For more information, please visit www.insuremytrip.com .

The differences between international health insurance and travel insurance

You’ll need to safeguard your medical health if you’re heading abroad, whether it’s permanently or for a short trip. When it comes to travel vs health insurance, the former suits people heading on holiday, while the latter is for expats working and living abroad.

Both insurance types cover different needs. So, what you’ll want from your insurance package will depend on your personal circumstances and the length of time you want to protect yourself.

Let’s look at the differences between the two before we decide.

What is international health insurance

International health insurance is medical coverage that covers expatriates living abroad for a long period of time. It’s for those that have packed up and taken residence overseas.

With this insurance, you can protect yourself in case of any health issues while living there.

This is an annual agreement, unlike the short-term nature of travel insurance. In some countries it is a legal requirement. Even in countries where it isn’t, it can be more beneficial than using the local health service.

International health insurance is mostly medical based, offering cover for pre-existing conditions, hospitalisations and other health-related costs and issues.

difference-between-travel-international-health-insurance

Who is international health insurance for?

International health insurance is for those who are working abroad for long periods of time, studying internationally, or just living there.

Expats, students and foreign nationals might want to consider protecting their health with comprehensive insurance. Especially if local law means you can’t access the national healthcare system.

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a short-term medical cover for people visiting another country on holiday or while backpacking. There are a few differences between travel insurance and international health insurance.

Like health insurance, travel insurance will cover emergency treatment, however, you’ll need to return to the country where you reside permanently for long-term care and support.

It also covers travel related issues, such as flight cancellations and protection against loss of personal items.

difference-between-travel-international-health-insurance

Who is travel insurance for?

Travel insurance is for vacationers and backpackers taking a trip to another country. They can use the coverage while visiting there. It can put people’s minds at rest, so that if anything happens – they’re covered.

Differences between international health insurance and travel insurance

So, what type of insurance is best suited to your needs? The first question you should be answering is how long you need insurance for. If you’re on a short-term trip of a few months or less, then you might want to consider travel insurance. Longer durations of cover are better suited to international expat insurance.

Let’s look at the differences at a glance.

International health insurance

  • Long-term, often 12-month cover.
  • Choice of where to receive care, with many insurers having access to a network of global hospitals and medical practitioners.
  • Covers long-term care needs like maternity cover, pre-existing health conditions and surgery recovery.
  • Sometimes a legal requirement in nations that don’t offer national healthcare or restrict access to nationals.
  • Has a medical focus.

Travel insurance

  • Short-term, cover usually of six months or less.
  • Treatment at the nearest medical facility.
  • For people visiting another country on holiday or short breaks.
  • Usually requires repatriation to your home nation for long-term care.
  • Covers things that aren’t medically related too, such as lost luggage and flight cancellations.

What does international health insurance cover?

International health insurance differs between insurers, but generally the cover relates to medical issues and care. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Hospital stays – this is if you need to stay in hospital for medical purposes.
  • Routine check-ups – the standard routine care, for example, at a GP or family doctor.
  • Cover for pre-existing conditions – you may have ongoing medical issues; you can continue with treatment for it.
  • Cover for chronic conditions – this is coverage for those with conditions such as cancer, asthma, arthritis.
  • Maternity care – you or your partner may be expecting a child, this is to cover you for that pregnancy period and beyond.
  • Dental care – for your teeth.
  • Mental health care – not all health issues are physical, this is to cover psychological treatment.
  • It’s a legal requirement in some nations.

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance will differ between insurers, but generally cover is for holiday specific issues. These can include:

  • Cancellations – in case your flight is no longer going ahead.
  • Loss of luggage – if your suitcases go missing.
  • Delays – if your flight takes longer than expected or you miss a connecting flight as a result of delay.
  • Loss of personal belongings – misplaced items can be a nuisance, have peace of mind with travel insurance in case it happens.
  • Theft while abroad – this is to cover you in case you’re a victim of theft while abroad.
  • Emergency medical treatment – for those unexpected medical visits.
  • Repatriation to own country – covering travel back to your own country after you’ve received emergency treatment wherever you are.

Why not check out some of our other articles? We’ve got a whole host of interesting content on our blog – see for yourself.

Do I need travel insurance if I have private healthcare insurance?

Yes, we recommend you get travel insurance even if you have private healthcare insurance. While private offers access to the best medical treatment, travel insurance can also cover those other things such as loss of luggage.

Is international health insurance a legal requirement?

In some countries, international health insurance is a legal requirement. Some even have it as a pre-requisite for the visa application. Therefore, we recommend checking your destination country’s requirements ahead of travelling there.

Do I need travel insurance and health insurance?

Both travel insurance and health insurance are different and cannot overlap. Some travel insurance plans provide very basic medical cover. For a fully comprehensive plan covering a broad range of medical needs – we recommend health insurance.

Do I need international health insurance before I arrive?

We recommend arranging your international health insurance before arriving at the country you’re looking to relocate to. Ensuring you’re protecting from the off can give you more free time to make the most of exploring your new home.

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Travel Insurance vs Health Insurance: Key Differences

So, you might already know that health insurance is one of the most important things you need when traveling domestically or internationally.

You might be wondering, is travel health insurance worth it? Do you even need travel insurance or international health insurance? What’s the difference between travel insurance vs health insurance? And which one should you get?

The good news is that the answer to this common question doesn’t need to be confusing – let me take you through everything you need to know.

Travel Insurance vs Health Insurance : A Quick Overview

The primary difference between travel insurance and international health insurance is this:

Travel Insurance

You should consider getting travel insurance if:

  • You are going on holiday, a business trip, or a short visit overseas.
  • You will be overseas for a period of less than six months.

International Health Insurance

You should get international health insurance if:

  • You are moving overseas for work, to study, join your spouse, retire, or any other reason.
  • You will be living overseas for most of the year.
  • You intend to travel internationally (for example: back and forth to your home country or to other destinations.)
  • You would like to have the option to be flown back or evacuated to your home country for treatment in the event of a major medical emergency.

Side-by-side comparison of what’s typically covered with travel vs health insurance:

Want to understand how to better prepare for any upcoming medical appointments while abroad? Save this guide .

Travel vs Health Insurance: A Detailed Look

What travel insurance covers.

Travel insurance is designed to assist you with medical emergencies while abroad and to protect you from unexpected financial loss during your travels due to trip disruption or damage/loss of personal items.

Travel insurance typically covers the following:

  • Medical emergencies: It will only cover medical bills, such as surgery, hospitalization, etc., related to accidents or sudden illness. You won’t have coverage for medical treatment related to pre-existing conditions, except in some special cases. Talk to your insurance provider if you want coverage for specific conditions.
  • Medical evacuation: If you are on vacation and fall seriously ill or get into an accident, then travel insurance covers your evacuation back to your home country or to another hospital with better quality healthcare.
  • Trip disruption: If you must cut your trip short for unexpected reasons, travel insurance reimburses part of your non-refundable expenses, like flights, hotel reservations, etc.
  • Flight delays: If your flight is delayed, travel insurance covers food and accommodation costs for the time it takes to catch the next flight. This is only if your flight delay is several hours.
  • Personal belongings: If personal items such as your baggage, passport, or other covered items are lost, stolen, or damaged, then travel insurance covers part of the loss.
  • Personal liability: If your actions cause damage to another person or property, then travel insurance covers the resulting costs.

Duration of Travel Insurance

Next, you might be wondering, “how much travel insurance do I need?” Well, you can literally choose to be covered only for the days you will be abroad.

If you travel frequently, you can also get an annual plan, but coverage is limited to a certain number of days per trip. For instance, if you have an annual travel insurance plan because you travel frequently for business trips, but the plan only covers you for three months per trip, if your trip is longer than that you won’t be covered for any time exceeding three months.

Geographical Location

You can choose where you want coverage. Depending on the company, you either select the specific country you’re traveling to or you can pick from a more general list of destinations, such as Europe, Australia, United States – including or excluding your country of origin.

The cost of your travel insurance plan depends on factors such as the duration of the trip, amount of coverage you want, and your age.

Plans that cover the US are more expensive than those that don’t because healthcare costs are higher.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

What International Health Insurance Covers

International health insurance is also known as expat health insurance, and it covers medical treatment for people living outside their home country. It functions similar to the health insurance you would get while living at home, except for the international coverage.

International health insurance usually covers:

  • In-patient medical treatment. Including hospitalization, surgery, intensive care unit, anesthesia, lab tests, x-rays, etc.
  • Out-patient medical treatment. Includes a visit to a physician or specialist, psychiatric visits, urgent care, emergency room, etc.
  • Emergency services.
  • Prescription medication.
  • Dental coverage.
  • Vision coverage.
  • Mental health care.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Rehabilitation.
  • Pre-existing health conditions.
  • Evacuation or repatriation.
  • Travel health insurance.

Not Covered: Trip disruption, flight delays, personal belongings, liability.

Duration of International Health Insurance

You can get international health insurance for the entire duration you will be living abroad. Or you can pay and extend your international health insurance plan monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

As the name suggests, international health insurance covers you internationally. Meaning even if you travel to another country and require medical assistance, your medical bills will be covered.

The cost of an international health insurance plan depends on how many medical procedures you wish to have covered. In-patient and out-patient treatment, medication, and emergency services are usually included on a “basic plan,” and adding other items, such as maternity, dental, etc., will increase the price.

Similarly, to travel insurance, an international health insurance plan that covers the USA will be more expensive than one which does not.

To Be Clear:

  • Sometimes you can get travel insurance to cover you even if you are moving abroad long-term. For instance, international students in Germany can enroll in a health insurance plan, but they still require some form of coverage until everything is set up. They can get travel insurance coverage in the meantime.
  • In addition to international health insurance, many expats (typically those who are employed) are eligible to enroll in the public healthcare system of the country they are moving to. Meaning international health insurance is optional.

Where Can I Get Insurance?

You can get travel insurance from:

  • Travel insurance brokers. These companies operate online and offer travel insurance plans from different insurance companies.
  • Directly from travel insurance companies . Most travel insurance providers operate online so that you can buy a plan from home. You can also opt to visit a local insurance company in-person.
  • From your airline or travel agency. Airlines and travel agencies offer travel insurance along with your flight ticket or tour.

You can get international health insurance from:

  • International health insurance companies. These operate online, and you can easily buy a plan from home.
  • Insurance brokers. Insurance comparison marketplaces offer plans from different companies, allowing you to compare plans before you choose one.

Should I Rely on My Credit Card Travel Insurance?

This isn’t a good idea. Although your credit card may cover some travel insurance expenses, they often don’t have the same level of coverage as travel insurance for medical expenses or emergency medical transportation while traveling. This could end up being costly if your credit card doesn’t offer you the right coverage.

It’s always best to check if your credit card has travel insurance coverage if necessary, just to bridge any coverage gaps before traveling. And this also keeps you covered if your credit card doesn’t have travel insurance coverage.

Is Travel Health Insurance Worth It?

Well, that depends on what value you place on your personal health and belongings. Travel insurance and international health insurance, and even health insurance in general – is the kind of thing that you don’t need until you need it. And then you’ll wish you had it. Whether it’s because you broke your arm while hiking in Peru or you got food poisoning in Thailand – it’s generally a smart idea to have some kind of travel insurance while you’re abroad.

Now that you know the difference, it’s time to start shopping around for a plan that suits you!

Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air dr ceo & co-founder.

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

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U.S. News evaluates ratings, data and scores of more than 50 travel insurance companies from comparison websites like TravelInsurance.com, Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip, plus renowned credit rating agency AM Best, in addition to reviews and recommendations from top travel industry sources and consumers to determine the Best Travel Medical Insurance Plans.

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Buying travel insurance is a smart move for any type of trip, but you may not need a policy that covers everything under the sun. If you don't need coverage for trip cancellations or delays because you're relying on your travel credit card to offer these protections, for example, you may find you only need emergency medical coverage that works away from home.

Still, travel medical coverage varies widely based on included benefits, policy limits and more. If you're comparing travel insurance plans and hoping to find the best option for unexpected medical expenses, read on to learn which policies we recommend.

Frequently Asked Questions

The term travel insurance usually describes a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes coverage for medical expenses as well as trip cancellations and interruptions, trip delays, lost baggage, and more. Meanwhile, travel medical insurance is coverage that focuses on paying for emergency medical expenses and other related care.

Travelers need international health insurance if they're visiting a place where their own health coverage will not apply. This typically includes all international trips away from home since U.S. health plans limit coverage to care required in the United States.

Note that if you don't have travel health insurance and you become sick or injured abroad, you'll be responsible for paying back any health care costs you incur.

Many travel insurance policies cover emergency medical expenses you incur during a covered trip. However, the included benefits of each policy can vary widely, and so can the policy limits that apply.

If you're looking for a travel insurance policy that offers sufficient protection for unexpected medical expenses, you'll typically want to choose a plan with at least $100,000 in coverage for emergency medical care and at least that much in protection for emergency medical evacuation and transportation.

However, higher limits can provide even more protection from overseas medical bills, which can become pricey depending on the type of care you need. As just one example, Allianz says the average cost of emergency medical evacuation can easily reach up to $200,000 or more depending on where you’re traveling.

Your U.S. health insurance policy almost never covers medical expenses incurred abroad. The same is true for most people on Medicare and especially Medicaid. If you want to ensure you have travel medical coverage that applies overseas, you should purchase a travel insurance plan with adequate limits for every trip. Read the U.S. News article on this topic for more information.

The cost of travel medical insurance can vary depending on the age of the travelers, the type of coverage purchased, the length of the trip and other factors. You can use a comparison site like TravelInsurance.com to explore different travel medical insurance plans and their cost.

  • Allianz Travel Insurance: Best Overall
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Coverage for preexisting conditions is available as an add-on

Easy to purchase as needed for individual trips

Relatively low limits for medical expenses

No coverage for trip cancellations or trip interruption

  • Up to $50,000 in emergency medical coverage
  • Up to $250,000 in emergency medical evacuation coverage
  • Up to $2,000 in coverage for baggage loss and damage
  • Up to $600 in baggage delay insurance
  • Up to $1,000 for travel delays
  • Up to $10,000 in travel accident insurance
  • 24-hour hotline assistance
  • Concierge services

Purchase comprehensive medical coverage worth up to $5 million

Coverage for families with up to 10 people

Low coverage amounts for trip interruption

Medical coverage options vary by age

  • Up to $5 million in comprehensive medical coverage
  • Up to $500,000 in emergency evacuation coverage
  • Up to $10,000 in coverage for incidental trips to home country
  • Up to $25,000 in coverage for terrorist activity
  • Up to $500 in accidental dental emergency coverage
  • Up to $100 per occurrence in coverage for emergency eye exams
  • $50,000 in coverage for local burial or cremation
  • 24/7 travel assistance
  • Up to $25,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment per traveler
  • Up to $500 for loss of checked baggage
  • Up to $5,000 for trip interruptions
  • Up to $100 per day for trip delays
  • Up to $50,000 for personal liability

Qualify for international health insurance with no annual or lifetime caps

Use coverage within the U.S. with select providers

Deductible from $500 to $10,000 can apply

Doesn't come with any nonmedical travel insurance benefits

  • Up to $250,000 in coverage for emergency medical evacuation
  • Up to $25,000 for repatriation of mortal remains
  • $50,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment

High limits for medical insurance and emergency medical evacuation

Covers multiple trips over a period of up to 364 days

Deductible of $250 required for each covered trip

Copays required for medical care received in the U.S.

  • Up to $1,000,000 of maximum coverage
  • Up to $1,000,000 for emergency medical evacuation
  • Up to $10,000 for trip interruptions
  • Up to $1,000 for lost checked luggage
  • Up to $100 per day for travel delays
  • Up to $25,000 in personal liability coverage
  • Medical coverage for eligible expenses related to COVID-19
  • Ability to add coverage for your spouse and/or child(ren)
  • Repatriation of remains coverage up to overall limit
  • Up to $5,000 for local burial or cremation 
  • $10,000 to $50,000 for common carrier accidental death

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Holly Johnson is an award-winning content creator who has been writing about travel insurance and travel for more than a decade. She has researched travel insurance options for her own vacations and family trips to more than 50 countries around the world and has experience navigating the claims and reimbursement process. In fact, she has successfully filed several travel insurance claims for trip delays and trip cancellations over the years. Johnson also works alongside her husband, Greg, who has been licensed to sell travel insurance in 50 states, in their family media business.

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Do I Need Travel Insurance If I Have Health Insurance?

Do I Need Travel Insurance if I have Health Insurance?

Do I need travel insurance if I have Medicare?

The short answer: Yes. According to Medicare.gov , health care you get while traveling outside the U.S. isn't covered. There are a few rare exceptions. If, for instance, you're traveling through Canada to get to Alaska when a medical emergency occurs, and a Canadian hospital is the nearest facility, Medicare may cover your treatment.

You can purchase a Medigap policy to cover emergency care received outside the United States. This policy pays 80 percent of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 yearly deductible. Medigap coverage has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

The OneTrip Prime Plan from Allianz Global Assistance , on the other hand, has no deductible and offers benefits for 100 percent of losses due to covered medical emergencies, up to $50,000 per trip.

Three things to know about travel insurance vs. overseas health insurance

  • Travel insurance isn't the same thing as health insurance. Travel insurance with emergency medical benefits offers just that — benefits for losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies. It doesn't cover preventive, routine or elective medical care. Appendicitis in Amsterdam? Probably covered. Rhinoplasty in Rio? Not covered.
  • Travel insurance includes some major benefits that health insurance plans don't offer. When you buy international travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance, you're not just getting benefits to cover emergency medical expenses. You also get emergency medical transportation benefits, up to $1 million (depending on the plan you choose) to travel to the nearest appropriate medical facility or to return home. This is huge. If you need to be airlifted to a hospital, or you need a nurse to escort you home, the costs will be exorbitant without travel insurance. Travel insurance also includes trip cancellation and interruption protection to reimburse you for non-refundable trip payments, in case you have to cancel your travel because of covered illness, injury or another covered reason.
  • Travel insurance includes personal, one-on-one help in emergencies. Call the 24-hour assistance hotline from anywhere in the world, and our call center experts will help you, including serving as interpreters and even arranging to fly a family member to your bedside, if necessary.

We know this gets confusing, and we're here to help. Call our travel insurance advisers anytime at 1-866-884-3556, and they can talk you through your travel insurance options and coverage needs. Travel happy!

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Travel insurance vs medical insurance: what's the difference.

Published on June 10, 2021. EST READ TIME: 3 minutes

Travel Insurance vs Medical Insurance: What's the Difference?

You are probably fully aware of the benefits of having a health insurance policy for yourself and your family. However when it comes to travel insurance, getting yourself insured is not just a need, but a mandatory requirement in a lot of countries. If you are planning to visit a foreign country, you may need to get a good travel insurance policy that covers you during your business trip or holiday. But why not just get international health insurance instead, you ask?  After all, both are intended for individuals living outside their country.

The similarities between travel insurance and health insurance have brought about a great deal of confusion among soon to be expatriates. And rightly so – both products are uncannily similar yet purportedly different. Not understanding the difference between either of the two can land you in trouble with unwanted medical expenses.  So, here is a complete breakdown of the two insurance types so you never have to worry about getting either of the two wrong.

What is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is intended to cover you for a short period of time during a business trip, holiday or other short visit. This type of insurance covers travellers during a period of time against travel related issues. Some of the issues could be:

·         Misplaced luggage.

·         Emergency medical care during the short trip.

·         Last minute airfare / hotel cancellations.

·         Accident the occurred during your short trip.

·         Lost personal belongings.

Note: Travel insurance will only cover emergency medical treatment that happened during the journey when the incident occurred.

For example: If you fell and broke your front tooth during a flight, you will be entitled to travel insurance. However, if you require tooth extraction which has been plaguing you over an extended period of time (before your travel date) - you will not be eligible for travel insurance.

Travel insurance is also intended to cover you within a specific area, so if you have travel insurance in France, you will be eligible for this type of insurance only in this country.  The idea behind travel insurance is that the insured individual gets better, just enough to return to their home country. It rarely covers long term illnesses and chronic diseases.

What is International Medical Insurance?

Medical insurance on the other hand is intended to provide medical cover over an extended period of time. This type of insurance is designed for students, working professionals, or legally residing expatriates. International health insurance works much the same way that an insurance policy would in your home country. You get coverage for medical emergency care as well as routine care. In some cases, policyholders even have the choice of healthcare facility and type of care received.

International health insurance varies between different providers; however the basic coverage you should expect is:

·         OPD (Outpatient) check-ups.

·         Coverage against long-term or chronic illnesses.

·         Coverage against pre-existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

·         Private room with 24/7 nurse on-call.

·         Freedom to choose healthcare provider/s.

In a nutshell, if you plan on relocating to another country for a considerable period of time, then international health insurance is the right coverage for you. Keep in mind, much like travel insurance, health insurance is only valid within a jurisdictional area.

For example, if you are currently living in France and are covered under an insurance plan within the country, you are only covered if you fall ill within the specified area. If you happen to travel to Spain over the weekend and you happened to fall ill, your health insurance would not be valid there. In order to remain covered during the stint of your weekend journey, you would be required to apply for travel insurance before your shirt trip to another country.   

The Difference between Travel and Health Insurance

By now, you should be fairly clear with either of the two types of health insurance policies. If you can clearly make a distinction between the two, knowing how each of them applies would be relatively straightforward.

In a Nutshell

Get  travel insurance   when travelling to a foreign country over a short period of time. Some examples could be a holiday, business trip or a family visit. Travel insurance generally is valid for up to six months. Get  health insurance if you plan on staying for an extended period of time. This could be in the form of studying, working. Your health insurance will cover all your medical expenses while living and working in the foreign country. 

Disclaimer:   The above information is for illustrative purpose only. For more details, please refer to policy wordings and prospectus before concluding the sales.

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The difference between international health insurance and travel insurance

What’s the difference between expat insurance and normal travel insurance.

The main difference between expat insurance and normal travel insurance is the duration of coverage and the level of protection provided. Expat insurance provides coverage for a longer period and complete health coverage while travel insurance is intended to cover short-term trips.

Normal Travel Insurance provides basic medical coverage and may include benefits such as trip cancellation, lost luggage, and travel delay. 

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is designed to cover you for trips of limited duration. It is intended for holidaymakers and short term trips abroad, and offers protection against travel related issues such as:

  • Cancellations
  • Loss of luggage
  • Loss of personal belongings
  • Emergency medical treatment

In terms of medical coverage, dummy travel insurance is intended to provide short-term emergency medical treatment, within your specified area or period of cover. The aim of this is to get you well enough to return home. Travel insurance rarely covers long term medical treatment.

If further treatment is required, you will usually be expected to return to your home country. Cover ceases once you are back in your country of residence.

What is international health insurance?

International health insurance is designed for those living or working overseas for a prolonged period of time. It covers treatment for both emergency and routine healthcare, and provides expats with flexibility in terms of choice of doctor and treatment facility, with the ability to receive treatment anywhere within their region of cover.

If you are relocating or if you have a home abroad where you spend a significant amount of time, international health insurance  may be required.

When experiencing a medical emergency, or even routine medical care, in a country where you are not familiar with the health system, and where you do not speak the language, international health insurance cover will ensure you get the medical attention you need. International health insurance benefits vary by plan, but often include:  

  • Hospital stay
  • Routine check-ups
  • Cover for pre-existing conditions
  • Cover for chronic conditions
  • Choice of medical providers

Our standard plans are modular so you can choose the combination of cover that best suits you and your families needs. In addition to the Core plan, options include:  

  • Out-patient treatment 
  • Maternity care
  • Dental care
  • Repatriation  

The flexible nature of these plans allow you tailor them to your specific needs, making the right combination of cover for you and your family more financially accessible. Core plan and out-patient plan deductibles offer an opportunity to reduce premiums, as can careful consideration of the region of cover. For example, taking ‘Worldwide excluding USA’ instead of ‘Worldwide’ will alter premium significantly.

As an expat, it can be tempting to try to keep costs down by opting to rely on local healthcare when you are abroad. However, should you fall ill, you may find that the local healthcare options do not meet your needs.

Depending on where you are moving and your individual circumstances, you may not be entitled to free or subsidised healthcare. Without an expatriate health plan, you may incur expensive medical costs.

Before venturing to another country on expat assignment, it is important to weigh your options and ensure that you have a health insurance plan you can rely on. Having the correct cover in place, will provide peace of mind as you settle into your new home.

Take a look at our ' differences between international health insurance and travel insurance ' plain talking guide.

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Are Travel Insurance and Health Insurance the Same?

Written and researched by Michael Kays (Travel Insurance Expert) | Fact Checked by Danya Kristen (Insurance Agent).

Many people believe that travel insurance and health insurance are one in the same. However, there are some major differences between the two types of coverage .

Travel insurance is typically for those who are going on vacation or taking a business trip. Health insurance, on the other hand, is for those who have a chronic illness or condition.

In this article...

What is the difference between travel insurance and health insurance?

There are a few key differences between travel insurance and health insurance. Travel insurance is typically much more comprehensive than health insurance, covering things like trip cancellation , lost baggage, and emergency medical care.

Health insurance, on the other hand, is focused primarily on providing coverage for routine care and treatment of serious illnesses and injuries.

Another difference is that travel insurance is usually purchased for a specific trip, while health insurance is an ongoing expense.

Finally, travel insurance is typically much cheaper than health insurance, since it covers a limited time period and a specific set of risks.

Also read: Best Travel Insurance for Pre Existing Conditions

Recommended Plans

✅  Atlas America

Up to $2,000,000 of Overall Maximum Coverage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Medical coverage for eligible expenses related to COVID-19, Trip Interruption & Travel Delay.

✅  Safe Travels Comprehensive

Coverage for in-patient and out-patient medical accidents up to $1 Million, Coverage of acute episodes of pre-existing conditions, Coverage from 5 days to 364 days (about 12 months).

✅  Patriot America Platinum

Up to $8,000,000 limits, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Coinsurance for treatment received in the U.S. (100% within PPO Network), Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Conditions covered.

When do you need travel insurance and health insurance?

There are many situations where you might need travel insurance and health insurance. For example, if you are going on a trip and you have a pre-existing medical condition, you will likely need to purchase travel insurance in order to be covered in case you have a medical emergency while on your trip.

Similarly, if you are traveling to a country where there is a risk of contracting a disease or getting injured, you may also want to purchase travel insurance.

In addition, if you are planning on doing any adventurous activities while on your trip, such as hiking, skiing, or whitewater rafting, you may want to purchase a policy that covers these activities in case you have an accident .

Also read: PPO Network Providers in USA – All You Need to Know

What are the benefits covered in travel insurance and not in health insurance?

Some benefits that are typically covered by travel insurance but not by health insurance include trip cancellation and interruption, lost or delayed baggage, and emergency medical and evacuation . Travel insurance may also provide coverage for missed connections, rental car collision damage, and travel delays.

What is recommended when visiting USA? Travel insurance or health insurance?

Both are recommended when visiting the USA. Travel insurance will cover any unexpected costs related to travel, while health insurance will provide coverage in case of illness or injury.

Also read: Best Health Insurance Companies for Expats

Pros and Cons of Travel and Health Insurance

Some pros of travel insurance are that it can cover unexpected costs such as medical emergencies, lost luggage, and cancellations . It can also give you peace of mind knowing that you are covered in case something goes wrong.

Some cons of travel insurance are that it can be expensive, and it may not cover everything that could go wrong on your trip.

When it comes to health insurance, there are many pros and cons.

Some pros include that it can help pay for medical expenses , give you peace of mind, and provide you with access to better care.

Some cons include that it can be expensive, you may have to pay deductibles, and it may not cover everything.

Also read: IMG Insurance Review: Plans, Cost & Benefits (The Truth)

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Airline Travel Insurance vs. Independent Travel Insurance: Which Is Right for You?

Alisha McDarris

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Table of Contents

Airline travel insurance

Independent travel insurance, which one is right for you.

You’ve planned your travel, found a flight, and can’t wait to book the trip on the airline’s website. But right before you hit the payment button, you have one seemingly simple question to answer: Do you want to add travel insurance?

It’s a booking option that has stumped many a traveler. You may think you need it, but what does that airline insurance even cover? And would it be better to purchase separate travel insurance from an independent company instead? Here, we’ll help you break down that decision and figure out which one is right for you.

For starters, every airline’s travel protection coverage is different. Some airlines, like Southwest, don’t offer any sort of trip protection for purchase with regular flights, but they do have an insurance option for Southwest Vacations.

United, on the other hand, offers full travel insurance through a partnership with AIG, while British Airways offers protection with Allianz. So be aware that while you may purchase insurance through the airline, your policy is likely underwritten by a third-party insurer.

Airlines offer a wide variety of travel insurance policies with varying benefits, so ensure you read the fine print to understand your specific coverage. Here are some examples:

Trip cancellation or interruption, meaning you’ll get a refund of whatever you have paid (up to a certain amount) if you have to cancel or postpone your trip due to a covered reason.

Reimbursement for lost or delayed baggage.

Emergency medical coverage and/or assistance while traveling.

And coverage isn’t the only thing that can vary; so does price. One airline might sell a policy for less than $15, while others may be more than five times that amount. This is another instance in which it’s critical to compare the details of what you’re actually getting. Here are two example policies we found for sale via United and Alaska:

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

A few cons to consider

One potential downside of purchasing travel insurance through your airline is that you only have the option of that airline’s partner provider — which may not be your first choice, or may not offer the coverage you want or need.

United, for example, offers protection through AIG, which covers 100% of your trip cost if you have to cancel travel plans. British Airways, on the other hand, offers a plan through Allianz that only covers up to $1,000 for trip cancellation and protection (often less than the cost of a single international flight).

When booking travel protection or insurance through an airline, you usually won’t have the option to fully customize your plan. For example, if you’ll be participating in activities that aren’t approved by some plans (like bouldering, ballooning or even some volunteer work), you may not be able to upgrade to a plan that covers riskier activities.

However, if you’re not expecting to need any special coverage (though some would argue that you never expect to need it), clicking that box on the checkout page while booking your flight is often an easy and inexpensive option. Just make sure to read the fine print so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not to avoid disappointment if you ever have to make a claim.

» Learn more: What to do if you get sick while traveling overseas

Independent travel insurance, on the other hand, gives you the ability to shop around and choose a plan that’s right for you.

Using a comparison portal like SquareMouth (a NerdWallet partner) or an independent insurance agent will ensure you get coverage tailored to your trip and will allow you to select plans based on price or features.

For example, if packing important or valuable materials in your checked luggage, you may want a plan that has a higher baggage loss reimbursement. If traveling to a country where there’s a higher risk of contracting malaria or another disease, you may want insurance that offers more overseas medical coverage or medical evacuation. And hand-selecting the exact coverage you want or need is something you can only do if you shop around outside any coverage your airline offers.

» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance

Which option is right for you comes down to what type of coverage you need and how complex your travel plans are. If you’re taking a quick domestic trip to visit friends and family in a familiar destination and don’t plan to participate in any risky activities, airline-provided travel insurance may be enough protection for you.

On the other hand, if you’re planning the trip of a lifetime with multiple destinations, opportunities for volunteer work, participation in what some companies consider dangerous activities or travel to regions with limited medical care and higher chances of getting sick, it may be wise to consider independent insurance.

Remember that if your trip involves multiple airlines, car rental companies, accommodations and activities, it may be easier to deal with one independent insurance company that will cover your whole trip.

» Learn more: The majority of Americans plan to travel in 2022

Also, you may already have a credit card that comes with some travel protections if you use the card to purchase your trip. Check the fine print to see what protections your card might offer.

Whatever you choose, travel safe.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-10x Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

1x-2x Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

50,000 Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

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Travel Insurance vs. Medical Insurance

Select your Langauge

emergency assistance in travel insurance

  • Width of Coverage: Travel Insurance covers a wide range of possible risks like theft, cancellations, and medical expenses. Medical insurance is designed to cover just the medical costs incurred as per the policy's directives.
  • Location of Treatment: If you face a medical emergency in a foreign location, the travel insurance plan may necessitate only emergency care to be conducted there and all later procedures to be undertaken in your home country. International medical insurance will allow you to get the treatment you need in a foreign location, as far as it is already specified in the policy.
  • Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: Most travel insurance plans will not cover the pre-existing medical conditions you have. You would be asked to get a rider or an add-on or consider buying another insurance policy to get the necessary coverage. On the other hand, health insurance plans tend to cover the existing medical conditions and the foreseeable conditions since such risks are already priced into the premium you have been paying.
  • Tenure of Coverage: Travel insurance plans can give you coverage for 30, 60, 90, or more days. But, in most cases, the travel insurance plan would at best cover you across multiple trips in a year – not the entire year. Your medical expenses for the whole year or the stipulated tenure are covered in a medical insurance plan.
  • Medical Emergency Before the Travel: Imagine a scenario where a 28-year old architect from Delhi, Ashok, plans to travel to Sydney for a conference. He gets a comprehensive travel insurance plan for himself and his team. Unfortunately, on the night before the scheduled departure, he trips from the stairs in his office and ends up with a pulled hamstring. He has to be hospitalized and undergo treatment.
  • Should You Consider a Travel Insurance Plan or a Medical Insurance Plan?
  • Travelling and seeking medical, loss of goods, or cancellation protection for yourself, your group, or your family.
  • Looking exclusively for a travel insurance plan as per the visa policies of the place you are visiting.
  • Travel planner who wants to mitigate the cancellation risks.
  • You are seeking protection specifically against health risk expenses, with or without travel.
  • You have pre-existing medical conditions.
  • You want protection for medical expenses you may incur before or after the travel.
  • Can I have both a travel and a medical insurance plan?

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Travel Insurance for Europe: 4 Best Options for 2024

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Allianz Travel Insurance »

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Travelex Insurance Services »

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

Generali Global Assistance »

is travel insurance same as medical insurance

WorldTrips »

Why Trust Us

U.S. News evaluates ratings, data and scores of more than 50 travel insurance companies from comparison websites like TravelInsurance.com, Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip, plus renowned credit rating agency AM Best, in addition to reviews and recommendations from top travel industry sources and consumers to determine the Best Travel Insurance for Europe.

Table of Contents

  • Allianz Travel Insurance
  • Travelex Insurance Services

You almost certainly will want travel insurance for Europe, mostly because the high cost for international trips is worth protecting against travel delays and trip cancellations. Since your U.S. medical coverage will not apply overseas, you also need international health insurance that covers surprise medical expenses and medical evacuation.

If you're searching for the best Europe travel insurance that money can buy, consider the following plans and all they have to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most people need travel health insurance at a bare minimum when traveling to European destinations like France, Italy or Switzerland, as well as additional countries inside and outside of the Schengen area. After all, U.S. health insurance plans do not provide coverage for medical emergencies overseas, and the same is true for government health plans like Medicare. Check out our article on whether your health insurance covers international travel .

Other benefits built into Europe travel insurance plans can also protect the money that's been spent on airfare, hotel stays, Europe cruises and tours. For example, travelers can benefit from having coverage for trip cancellation, trip delays, lost or delayed baggage, and more.

Every travel insurance policy is unique, so you'll want to read over individual travel insurance plans to see what they protect against. That said, the bulk of travel insurance plans for trips to Europe provide the following coverages:

  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • Travel delays
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay coverage
  • Medical expenses
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Rental car damage

Some travel insurance plans also offer additional or optional coverage for sports equipment or sports equipment delays, missed connections, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), adventure sports and more.

Some visitors to countries in the Schengen area are required to have a visa for short stays that can last for up to 90 days within a timeline of up to 180 days. However, this is not the case for American citizens, who can stay in Europe for up to 90 days at a time without meeting specific visa requirements.

The U.S. Department of State also notes that American citizens who want to stay in Europe for more than 90 days should reach out to the country they plan on visiting to inquire about their visa process.

If you live in a country that requires a Schengen visa, you are required to purchase Schengen visa insurance that pays for overseas medical expenses. This coverage must provide at least 30,000 euros in protection against medical expenses that result from hospitalization, emergency treatment and repatriation of remains in the case of accident or death.

  • Allianz Travel Insurance: Best Overall
  • Travelex Insurance Services: Best Cost
  • Generali Global Assistance: Best for Medical Emergencies
  • WorldTrips: Best for Groups

Optional cancel for any reason (CFAR) and preexisting medical conditions coverage available

Kids 17 and younger covered for free

Lower coverage amount for medical expenses than some providers

  • $100,000 per traveler in coverage for trip cancellation
  • $150,000 per traveler in coverage for trip interruptions
  • $500 in coverage for eligible trip changes
  • $50,000 in emergency medical coverage
  • $500,000 for emergency medical transportation
  • $1,000 toward baggage loss or damage
  • $300 in coverage for baggage delays of 12 hours or more
  • $800 in protection for travel delays (daily limit of $200 applies)
  • $100 per insured person per day in SmartBenefits coverage for eligible delays
  • 24-hour hotline assistance
  • Concierge services

Optional CFAR and preexisting medical conditions coverages available

Kids 17 and younger are covered for free

Many coverages cost extra

  • 100% of trip cost for trip cancellation (up to $50,000)
  • 150% of trip cost for trip interruption (up to $75,000)
  • $2,000 in coverage for trip delays of five hours or longer
  • $750 in coverage for missed connections
  • $50,000 in coverage for emergency medical expenses ($500 dental sublimit included)
  • $500,000 in coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation
  • $1,000 in coverage for baggage and personal effects
  • $200 for baggage delays of 12 hours or longer
  • $200 for sporting equipment delays of 24 hours or longer
  • $25,000 for accidental death and dismemberment coverage
  • 24/7 travel assistance
  • 100% of the insured trip cost for financial default of a travel provider (maximum of $50,000)
  • Trip cancellation and interruption coverage for preexisting medical conditions (maximum of $50,000)
  • Cancel for work reasons coverage
  • CFAR insurance
  • Car rental coverage worth up to $35,000
  • $50,000 in additional emergency medical coverage
  • $500,000 in additional coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation
  • Adventure sports exclusions waiver
  • $200,000 in coverage for flight accidental death and dismemberment

CFAR and preexisting medical conditions coverages available

High coverage limits for medical expenses and evacuation

CFAR coverage only reimburses at 60%

  • $1,000,000 coverage limit for emergency medical evacuation and transportation
  • $250,000 coverage limit for medical expenses ($500 limit for dental emergencies)
  • 100% of trip cost for trip cancellation
  • 175% of trip cost for trip interruption
  • $1,000 per person for travel delays ($300 per person daily limit applies)
  • $2,000 per person in coverage for baggage and $500 for baggage delays
  • $2,000 per person in coverage for sporting equipment and $500 for sporting equipment delays
  • $1,000 per person in coverage for missed connections
  • Air flight accident AD&D coverage worth $100,000 per person and $200,000 per plan
  • Travel accident AD&D coverage worth $50,000 per person and $100,000 per plan
  • $25,000 in coverage for rental cars
  • 24-hour travel support

Discounts for groups of five or more

Potential for high coverage limits for medical expenses

No coverage for trip cancellation

Available coverage limits vary by age

  • $5,000 for local burial or cremation
  • Up to $25,000 in AD&D coverage
  • $100,000 in coverage for emergency reunions
  • $10,000 in coverage for trip interruption
  • $1,000 for lost checked luggage
  • $100 in coverage for lost or stolen passports or visas
  • $100 in coverage per day for travel delays of at least 12 hours (two days of coverage maximum)
  • Up to $25,000 in personal liability coverage

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Holly Johnson is a travel writer who has created content about travel insurance, family travel, cruises, all-inclusive resorts and more for over a decade. She has visited more than 50 countries around the world and has an annual travel insurance plan of her own. Johnson also has experience navigating the claims process for travel insurance plans and has successfully filed several travel insurance claims for trip delays and trip cancellations over the years. Johnson works with her husband, Greg, who is licensed to sell travel insurance and owns the travel agency Travel Blue Book .

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is travel insurance same as medical insurance

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What Is Travel Medical Insurance? | Money

When you travel abroad, you expose yourself to the possibility of experiencing a medical emergency not covered under your standard health insurance policy. Travel medical insurance serves as a supplement to your existing coverage so that you can get emergency care services abroad if you become injured or ill.

In this article, we explore what travel medical insurance is, what it covers, how much it costs and where to buy it. Read on to find out more.

What does travel medical insurance cover?

Medical insurance for travel covers expenses related to care for medical and dental emergencies that occur during insured trips, and it’s typically available in single- and multi-trip options. Medical coverage is included with most travel insurance plans, yet some companies also offer this option as a stand-alone policy.

Along with paying for medical visits, necessary testing and ambulance rides, travel medical coverage usually includes medical evacuation and repatriation costs. However, unlike regular health insurance, it doesn’t pay for routine care.

Travel medical coverage limits vary by insurer, plan, and medical services and depend on the traveler’s age. Insurance plans typically set a per-person limit for emergency medical coverage ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. The limit for medical evacuation coverage, on the other hand, tends to go up to $2 million. Most insurers allow you to choose from different medical coverage limit options, but services like medication, dental care and ambulance rides may have separate limits.

Most insurance companies allow you to choose your deductible amount and some even offer no-deductible options, albeit at a higher price point. After you meet your deductible, your travel insurer should cover eligible medical costs up to the limits specified in your policy.

You may still be responsible for a copayment for doctor visits and have to pay for expenses that exceed your coverage limits.

Standard health coverage

The best travel insurance companies offer plans that pay for various standard healthcare services. These include doctor visits for illnesses and injuries, emergency dental services, lab work, X-rays and necessary medications. Some plans also pay for physical therapy visits necessitated by a condition that develops while traveling and cover telemedicine visits abroad.

Travel health insurance plans normally don’t cover routine care. This includes physical exams, dental checkups and cleanings, vaccinations, doctor visits for managing existing conditions, pregnancy care and medication refills.

Plus, coverage usually doesn’t apply to health services needed due to substance use, self-harm or participation in dangerous or illegal activities. However, some plans can be augmented with add-ons that cover risky recreational activities such as surfing and snowboarding.

Emergency medical care

Even basic travel medical insurance policies cover necessary treatment for emergencies such as heart attacks, broken bones, breathing problems and severed limbs or fingers at foreign hospitals. Some examples of covered costs include hospital stays, anesthesia, surgeries and diagnostic services.

Emergency medical travel insurance generally also includes interpretation services for arranging care. The insurer should have a 24/7 helpline where you can speak with a representative in English and advice on how to get to a medical facility and communicate your medical emergency to hospital staff. Plus, a service representative may call and check on your status while you receive treatment and contact relatives back home if needed.

Emergency evacuations

The emergency evacuation component of travel medical insurance pays for you to travel to the closest medical facility that can treat your specific emergency. This not only includes a regular ambulance ride but also emergency air transport if needed. The coverage may allow for a companion to travel and join you if you find yourself in the hospital for an extended time, too.

Most travel medical insurance plans also cover transportation costs to send you from the overseas medical facility to a hospital back home. Known as repatriation coverage, this plan feature also applies if you die on your trip and your remains need to be sent back to the U.S.

Travel medical insurance costs

The cost of travel medical insurance depends on factors such as your age, the length of your trip and the plan’s coverage limits and deductible. Typically, plans start out at a few dollars per day per traveler and go up depending on the plan’s features and coverage level. Travel insurance companies provide quote tools on their websites to help you estimate the cost of coverage.

Similar to regular health insurance premiums , the cost of travel medical policies runs lower for younger applicants and those who opt for a higher deductible or choose a plan with lower coverage limits.

And since the duration of the trip also influences the price of coverage, a one-week trip will be much more affordable than a month abroad. You’ll also find more affordable coverage if you don’t have pre-existing conditions or plan to participate in risky activities. Cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance policies usually cost more as well.

When setting a budget for travel medical insurance, weigh the features of a cheaper plan against the risk of incurring higher out-of-pocket costs due to coverage limits or exclusions. Buying a slightly more affordable plan might not make sense if you must meet a high deductible to receive treatment.

As with any insurance product, it pays to shop around and compare plans from different insurers to find the best deal for the coverage you want. Just choose a trustworthy insurer rather than go by price alone.

Travel medical insurance pros and cons

While it does add to your travel costs, medical-only travel insurance offers useful benefits that can provide you peace of mind and help you reduce potential medical expenses so you can better enjoy your vacation. Nevertheless, there are exclusions and out-of-pocket expenses you should be aware of before purchasing coverage.

Below are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of travel medical insurance:

Pros of travel medical insurance

  • Peace of mind: The best travel medical insurance plans help travelers avoid large out-of-pocket costs if they become ill or injured. As long as you can afford the deductible and don’t exceed plan limits, you rest assured knowing your insurance will cover eligible medical expenses.
  • Useful phone assistance: Even if you can afford overseas medical care out-of-pocket, coordinating can be challenging when dealing with unfamiliar medical systems and foreign languages. The 24/7 phone assistance included with most travel insurance plans makes it easy to get answers to your health-related questions and referrals for emergency care.
  • Low premiums: The cost of travel medical insurance usually only adds up to a small portion of the total cost of your trip. For example, if your insurer charges $5 a day for your 14-day trip to Europe, this only adds up to $70 and shouldn’t strain your budget.
  • Broad plan selection: Both travel insurance companies and regular health insurers offer a broad selection of plan options at different prices. Even if you lack health coverage or have pre-existing conditions, you can find plans to suit your needs.

Cons of travel medical insurance

  • Plan exclusions: Knowing a plan’s exclusions is crucial to avoid paying out-of-pocket costs on top of premiums. For example, if you injure yourself during a risky activity or have a pre-existing heart condition and suffer a heart attack during your trip, you could have to pay for medical treatment yourself.
  • Potential out-of-pocket costs: While travel insurance for medical emergencies offers financial benefits, you may still have to pay deductibles and copayments. Sometimes, you may have to pay the provider first and get reimbursed later. Maximums apply for the policy and even specific services, which can result in further expenses.

What’s the best place to buy travel medical insurance?

The best place to buy a travel medical insurance policy is through a reputable insurer that offers affordable prices and provides thorough coverage that fits your medical needs. The best insurers are financially stable enough to pay claims and are known for providing reliable customer service. To ensure you’re doing business with a reputable company, look for customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau and check their AM Best financial strength ratings.

Your existing health insurance company may offer its own travel health plans. For example, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association offers GeoBlue plans with trip-specific and long-term coverage options. If you need additional coverage for lost or delayed luggage or interrupted trips, consider a more comprehensive policy from any of the best travel insurance companies .

To ensure you get the best coverage to fit your budget, get quotes through multiple providers and check the plan features and exclusions thoroughly. Additionally, check if you have to use a medical provider through a specific network and whether your destination has providers nearby.

Does travel medical insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Coverage for pre-existing conditions under medical travel insurance varies by insurer and plan. It may also depend on the type of condition you have.

Generally, you’re more likely to be approved for coverage if your condition has been stable for several months before your trip commencement date. Many plans have a lookback period between 60 and 180 days. If you had symptoms or received treatment for the condition during that time, the insurer won’t pay for related medical expenses during the trip.

If you don’t mind paying more for a higher-tier travel medical insurance plan, you can find insurers that offer a pre-existing condition waiver. This typically provides a specified amount of coverage for emergency care related to the pre-existing condition.

To qualify, you must purchase international travel medical insurance within days of paying your initial trip deposit. Remember that you’ll likely still have to pay out-of-pocket for non-emergency treatment and medications.

Can an existing health insurance policy cover you while you’re abroad?

Medicaid or standard Medicare coverage generally don’t cover you abroad , even if it’s an emergency. However, you could get partial coverage in limited situations. In some cases, Medicare can cover ambulance transportation and emergency inpatient services if you’re in a U.S. territory but the closest hospital is a foreign one.

Medigap plans , on the other hand, may extend your Medicare benefits to provide some international health coverage. In that case, you’d pay a $250 deductible and have 80% of your eligible international healthcare expenses covered. The downside is there’s a lifetime limit of $50,000.

International coverage under private health insurance plans varies widely and usually leads to higher out-of-network costs. The insurer will likely pay for emergency care only, and you may need the insurer to preauthorize treatment before any overseas coverage applies. Plus, private plans usually have no coverage for emergency evacuations.

If you plan to use your private insurance for your trip, read your plan’s documents thoroughly to know exactly what the policy covers and excludes. Remember that your insurer could also charge different deductibles, coinsurance and copayment amounts for medical care overseas.

Summary of what is travel medical insurance

When you travel abroad, a travel medical insurance policy can supplement your regular insurance by covering any gaps in coverage. Although travel medical plans generally don’t cover routine care, this policy can simplify the process of obtaining emergency medical care. And they may also cover the costs of transporting you back home. Nevertheless, consider exclusions and possible out-of-pocket expenses when selecting a plan.

Before signing up for medical insurance for your trip abroad, assess your financial situation, current health status, and the health risks you could face based on your destination and planned activities. This can help you choose the right coverage limits, deductible amount and add-ons. Also, thoroughly research any potential insurance company to ensure it’s financially stable and has good customer service ratings.

© Copyright 2023 Money Group, LLC . All Rights Reserved.

This article originally appeared on Money.com and may contain affiliate links for which Money receives compensation. Opinions expressed in this article are the author's alone, not those of a third-party entity, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed. Offers may be subject to change without notice. For more information, read Money’s full disclaimer .

Explainer-Medical-Travel-Insurance

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