While many Comprehensive plans offer medical coverage options, for some travelers, a Comprehensive Plan may not be the best product. Travelers who are primarily concerned about medical care in case of an emergency while traveling, and not particularly concerned about non-medical issues such as trip cancellation, may want to look into purchasing a Travel Medical plan. These plans are available for single trips or multiple trips within a year, and offer comprehensive medical benefits, as well as sometimes offering additional benefits such as baggage coverage and trip interruption coverage.
Important things to note when researching Travel Medical Plans include:
Included coverage and limits
Most Travel Medical Plans will include coverage for both emergency medical care in the event you become ill or injured while traveling, and medical evacuation services should your illness or injury be so severe that it requires you to be airlifted to a facility that can best care for your needs. Some will also offer non-medical benefits for trip interruption and limited baggage loss, as well as options such as Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits and Hazardous Sports Riders. There will generally be a stated coverage limit within the policy for each benefit listed, so it’s important to carefully read the plan details and make sure that you are comfortable with the level of coverage offered.
Primary vs. Secondary coverage
Before purchasing a Travel Medical Plan, it’s strongly recommended that you first contact your regular medical insurance provider to inquire about how your benefits apply when you’re away from home. Some medical insurance companies will extend your regular benefits even when you’re overseas, making Travel Medical insurance coverage unnecessary. However, full extension of benefits is rare; more often, you’ll find that your regular insurance carrier allows you to use only a portion of your benefits, or none at all, when you’re traveling abroad. For example, if you are covered under Medicare, you will receive no medical coverage at all while overseas. Knowing how your regular health insurance coverage functions will allow you to decide whether you need your Travel Medical Plan to function as a primary source of coverage – meaning that it would need to cover all of your medical care requirements while traveling – or as a secondary source, which would fill in any gaps left after your regular insurance had provided you with benefits.
It’s common for travel insurance plans to list exclusions to your coverage, which you’ll need to read and understand before purchasing. For example, Travel Medical Plans will often exclude Pre-Existing conditions from coverage, unless you are able to buy a plan with a pre-existing conditions waiver. Certain activities may also be listed as exclusions if the travel insurance provider considers them to be high-risk. Scuba diving is one example of an activity that may be excluded from coverage under a Travel Medical Plan; however, there are Hazardous Activities riders that can be purchased from some travel insurance providers that will extend your coverage to include some of these activities.