Travel medical insurance is offered either as part of comprehensive travel insurance plans or can be purchased as a stand alone plan. Travelers refer to these most commonly as travel health insurance plans, while the providers refer to them as travel medical. The specific medical travel insurance plans only offer coverage while traveling outside of your home country.
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 your home country.
Some health insurance companies will extend health benefits overseas, but don’t discount a travel medical plan if you find this is the case. Other coverages on the travel medical plans may be helpful in the event of an unforeseen illness or injury while traveling, such as emergency medical evacuation.
What do travel medical plans cover?
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 suffer a covered illness or injured while traveling. If the illness or injury become severe enough, and you can’t be treated properly at the hospital you are initially taken to, the travel insurance company and the attending physician may consider evacuation to a better equipped medical facility.
Some plans may offer limited non-medical benefits for trip interruption and baggage loss. Travelers may be interested in options for accidental death and dismemberment benefits and hazardous sports riders as well. Medical plans are often ideal for travelers who are not worried about cancellation or delays. Read the plan details closely – you may be surprised by how a travel medical plan may cover travelers.
The travel medical plans also offer assistance services that can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Depending on the plan, these may include assistance with medical and dental referrals, arranging emergency medical evacuations, translation services, worldwide medical information and much more. These services can prove invaluable in the event there is an emergency while you’re traveling in a foreign country.
What are the plan limits?
Travel medical plans will include a stated coverage limit for each benefit. Coverage limits can vary by plan and may include options to increase them if desired. Your age can 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 these services, but it does give peace of mind that you will be able to find the best medical care – no matter where you are in the world.
The emergency medical evacuation benefit covers the cost, up to the stated limit, to move a traveler suffering from a covered illness or injury to the nearest, better equipped medical facility 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 that would allow you to choose the hospital to which you would be transported. In all cases, for the evacuation to be covered all arrangements must be made by the assistance company.
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 medical event. 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.
You may also find exclusions for certain activities, like scuba diving. Some companies will offer an optional hazardous sports rider that can be selected for an additional premium. By adding the rider to the plan, coverage may be offered for certain high-risk activities.
Why a travel medical plan?
Every type of travel insurance has its benefits, but finding the right plan is imperative while planning a trip. A travel medical plan is a great option if you’re traveling abroad and are not worried about covering trip cost due to a cancellation or added expenses due to a travel delay.
Anyone looking for robust coverage for baggage or interruption should consider a comprehensive plan. Travel medical plans are excellent in assisting travelers to find adequate medical care while traveling abroad. Always think safety first.