Travel Insurance

Why Routine Care & Checkups Aren’t Covered By Travel Insurance

Why Routine Care & Checkups Aren’t Covered By Travel Insurance

Many travelers are surprised to discover that preventative care and routine checkups and services – even flu shots and regular prescriptions – aren’t covered by their travel medical insurance.

While this can be frustrating for those purchasing travel health insurance, there are specific logical reasons why routine or preventative care is not covered under these types of plans.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel medical insurance is designed to offer short-term health coverage for those who are traveling outside of their home country. This can be crucial especially for those traveling to the U.S. where medical expenses are notoriously high.

However, it’s important to note that travel insurance is only meant to cover medical expenses associated with covered medical emergencies that occur during one’s travels, not routine or preventative care that would otherwise be covered by your health insurance back home.

Coverage for medical emergencies can include:

  • Medical coverage for new incidents including accidents, illnesses, and injuries
  • Hospitalization and surgery
  • Emergency medical evacuation

What Doesn’t Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance does not cover routine care, preventative care, checkup visits, and other types of treatment related to pre-existing conditions.

Travel insurance plans often don’t cover:

  • Preventative care
  • Elective treatments
  • Mental health or nervous disorders
  • Recurring medications
  • Routine care or checkups
  • Pregnancy
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Dental or vision care

Some visitors to the U.S. believe that they can buy travel medical insurance and get medical treatment for minor and routine situations. However, this is not the case.

For example, a visitor with an existing heart condition who’s on blood pressure medication may make the mistake of believing that as long as they have travel insurance they can stop into a medical facility for a blood pressure check. Unfortunately, this is not an instance in which travel insurance would offer coverage as it isn’t necessary medical care and is related to a pre-existing condition.

Travel insurance is meant to help travelers who need sudden and emergency medical care while they are away from their home country. It’s not meant to act as a direct substitute for their domestic healthcare.

If you’re facing a genuine medical emergency, a sudden illness, or injury which manifests after the policy effective date, your medical treatment will be covered by travel insurance. This means that you can get the emergency care you need without going into crushing medical debt.

Why Doesn’t Travel Insurance Cover Routine Care?

There are several reasons why travel medical insurance plans don’t cover routine care, but the primary reason is cost. Essentially, if every travel insurance company was required to pay for routine care and checkups as well as emergency care and services, a lot of insured travelers would visit the doctor for minor health issues and preventative care while abroad. This would cause the cost of travel insurance to skyrocket.

Additionally, routine care is not what travel insurance was designed for. For most people, they can have their routine treatments taken care of at home under their domestic insurance. However, most domestic insurance plans will not cover you abroad, and this can be worrisome in the event of an emergency. This is where travel insurance can offer value, as you can have protection for medical expenses for an emergency illness or injury abroad which requires medical attention.

Is There Any Insurance That Covers Regular Checkups During Travel?

Yes, there are some travel insurance plans which can offer limited coverage for regular checkups during travel, with some exclusions and limitations.

The Safe Travels USA Comprehensive plan offers a Well Doctor Visit benefit which can cover up to $125 for a checkup. The visit must occur within the first 21 days from the effective coverage date. To qualify, 30 days of coverage must be purchased initially.

What Constitutes Emergency Medical Care?

So what exactly constitutes emergency medical care? Here’s a look at the types of events that most travel medical insurance policies may cover provided they occur with the policy effective dates:

  • Treatment of injuries resulting from a car accident
  • Severe dehydration resulting from the flu
  • Surgery to repair a broken hip resulting from a slip and fall accident
  • Treatment for continuous vomiting due to food poisoning
  • Emergency treatment for a snake bite

The common characteristic of all these medical events is that they are sudden, unexpected events. Anything that wouldn’t be considered necessary care for an illness or injury which occurs abroad typically wouldn’t be covered by travel insurance.

Travel Insurance Is Not Meant for Medical Tourism

While some people suffering terrible illnesses and injuries can, with careful planning and very specific permissions, come to the United States for a much needed surgery, U.S. visitors can not expect to use their travel insurance for these kinds of situations.

Some may attempt to take advantage of better treatment, better medications, and better care the U.S. has to offer, but travel medical insurance is limited to emergency medical events that occur during the effective policy dates. In some cases, working immigrants might bring their parents and other family members to the U.S. expecting them to receive free, quality medical care.

However, the reality is that these family members would likely not receive medical attention and if they did, the medical expenses would be devastating. So it’s crucial to understand that travel health insurance covers only the insured and is limited to medical events that occur while that individual is covered.

Tourists to the U.S. have only two options to get emergency medical care in the U.S.:

  • Pay for medical treatment out of pocket
  • Purchase adequate travel health insurance while booking the U.S. trip to cover emergency medical care needed while in the U.S.

Protect Yourself With Travel Insurance

Even though travel insurance is only meant to cover emergencies abroad, this can mean the difference between having financial protection or paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket if you need medical care for a new illness or injury and aren’t insured.

If you have questions about what is covered and what is not covered by travel health insurance, feel free to contact our award winning Customer Success Team for help or get a visitors insurance quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions


Does travel insurance cover doctor visits?

Travel insurance can cover doctor visits if the reason for the visit is due to an emergency illness or injury which occurs abroad and requires medical attention. However, most travel insurance plans do not cover regular, routine doctor visits.


Will travel insurance cover flu shots?

Yes, there are some plans that offer coverage up to maximum benefit for flu or influenza shots – but it must be listed as a benefit on the policy.


Does travel insurance cover pregnancy?

No, travel insurance does not cover routine care related to pregnancy.


Does travel insurance cover vaccinations?

Some travel insurance do offer limited coverage for flu shot vaccinations. However, it does not offer coverage for other types of vaccinations and only some plans may offer this benefit.