While many comprehensive plans offer medical coverage options, travel medical plans can give a more specific, defined coverage needed by some while traveling abroad. Travel medical plans offer coverage while traveling outside of your home country, so comprehensive plans may be helpful if you are a US resident traveling within the US and looking for medical coverage. Travelers who are primarily concerned about medical care in case of an emergency while traveling internationally and less about non-medical coverage may find a medical travel insurance plan more economic and accommodating.
Before purchasing a travel medical plan, we strongly recommend that you first contact your regular health insurance provider to inquire about how your benefits apply when you are outside of the US. Some health insurance companies will extend your health benefits even when you are overseas, but there are other beneficial coverages on the travel medical plans that may be helpful in the event of an unforeseen illness or injury while traveling.
What is Included in the Coverages?
Most travel medical plans will include coverage for both emergency medical and medical evacuation services. This coverage is designed to reimburse you for medical bills accrued if you become ill or injured while traveling. If the illness or injury is or becomes severe enough, and you can’t be treated properly where you are, the travel insurance provider, along with the attending physician, may consider evacuation to a nearby, better equipped hospital.
Some will also offer limited non-medical benefits for trip interruption and baggage loss. Travelers may find options such as accidental death and dismemberment benefits and hazardous sports riders as well. Read the plan details closely – you may be surprised on how travel medical plans covers travelers.
What are the Plan Limits?
Travel medical plans will include a stated coverage limit for each benefit. Coverage limits can range by plan and may be include options to increase them if desired. Your age can also be a factor in determining the amount of coverage for which you are eligible. Increasing limits can mean a higher premium, but your coverage limit should be a comfortable level for your needs and travel risks.
What is Emergency Medical Evacuation?
For travelers of a certain age, or a certain adventurous spirit, we always recommend looking into plans with emergency medical evacuation as a benefit. While we hope that our travelers will never need to use this service, it does give them peace of mind that they will be able to find the best medical care – no matter where they are in the world.
Emergency medical evacuation benefit will move a traveler who is ill or injured to a facility that is equipped to handle their ailment as determined by the attending physician and the company Some plans offer a rider that allows you to upgrade to a “hospital of choice” benefit which would allow you to choose the hospital you receive care. In all cases, for the evacuation to be covered, all arrangements must be made by the assistance company.
What is the Difference between Primary and Secondary Coverage?
After talking to your health insurance company you may find that only a portion of your benefits, or none at all, are available when you are traveling abroad. The level of coverage your health insurance company provides while you are traveling will allow you to decide between a travel medical plan with primary or secondary coverage.
While primary coverage allows you to file the initial claim with the travel insurance company, , secondary coverage requires you to first rely on the coverage from your health insurance. If you have a plan with secondary coverage, you may need to process a claim with your health insurance company and be denied before the travel insurance company will process a claim.
What are the Exclusions in Travel Medical Plans?
Like most travel insurance plans, travel medical plans include exclusions for coverage. The most common is a pre-existing condition exclusion.
Depending on the plan you choose the insurance company can look back a predetermined amount of time in medical records to see if the illness or injury is due to a previous or current ailment. Most have a lookback period that ranges from 6 months to 3 years (depending on the plan) prior to the effective date of your plan. It is important to read the plan details and fully understand how you are covered in regards to medical conditions that may be considered pre-existing.
You may also find exclusions for sports activities like scuba diving. Some companies will consider this a “high-risk” activity, but may allow for an optional hazardous sports rider to be added to the plan for an additional premium.