Beginner’s Guide to Travel Medical Insurance

Beginner’s Guide to Travel Medical Insurance

If it is your first time purchasing travel medical insurance, there’s no doubt that the initial process can be overwhelming. Understanding what travel medical insurance is, what it covers, and where to purchase can all cause stress for a first time buyer.

Luckily, once you become comfortable with the basics of travel insurance, you’ll find that it really is a simple process from start to finish.

Read on to learn more about the basics of travel medical insurance and how to begin your buying journey.

What Is Travel Medical Insurance?

There are two basic types of travel insurance, trip insurance, which covers costs related to trip disruptions and baggage issues, and travel medical, which helps you recoup financial losses from certain medical expenses which might occur during your travels. 

This could include coverage for new illnesses or accidents that occur abroad and require medical treatment, as well as emergency medical evacuation.

Why Do Travelers Need Medical Insurance?

Domestic medical insurance for U.S. citizens and permanent residents is not accepted outside the country and getting necessary treatment abroad can be costly.

The price of a medical evacuation back to the U.S., for instance, can come with a bill of $50,000 or more. And the U.S. isn’t unique. Any regular health insurance acquired in a traveler’s home country likely won’t provide adequate medical coverage for your overseas travels.

Fortunately, a good medical travel insurance policy can help cover the cost of medical and health services for travelers overseas.

What Does Medical Travel Insurance Cover?

In general, travel insurance coverage helps travelers with medical costs related to treatment or services required for new injuries or illnesses that occur during one’s travels. This can include coverage for:

  • Services for any new sickness or illness that emerges during the trip
  • Necessary medical evacuations
  • The return of mortal remains, in the event of death

Additionally, it is important to understand what medical insurance for international travel doesn’t cover. Common exclusions in travel medical insurance include:

Travel medical insurance coverage and benefits will vary from plan to plan, so it is important to compare your options to find a policy that best fits your needs.

Comprehensive vs. Limited Travel Insurance Coverage

There are two main types of medical insurance for international travel, comprehensive and limited. Comprehensive, as you might imagine, gives you broader coverage options but is more expensive. Limited might be more appealing to younger, lower-risk travelers. 

Learn more about the differences between comprehensive and limited coverage travel medical insurance plans.

How Does Travel Insurance Work?

Unlike trip insurance plans, which cover things like lost or delayed bags, trip interruption or cancellation, travel insurance plans can help pay or reimburse travelers for any medical expenses if an illness or injury occurs during their journey. But how does it work? 

Well before your departure date, you’ll want to search and compare your travel insurance options. When you find a plan that meets your needs, you’re ready to buy.

Once you purchase a policy, you'll receive a virtual insurance card which you should print out and carry with you. This way, if you need to access medical care at an emergency room, urgent care facility or doctors office during your trip, you have physical proof of insurance.

During Your Trip

If you fall ill or become injured during your travels, seek medical help at a nearby facility. Depending on the type of policy you purchased, you might need to check your coverage network to ensure that the office or facility you visit is in your insurance provider’s network.

Seeing a health provider outside the network could mean that services are not covered, and you could personally be liable for the cost without the benefit of your insurance coverage.

Payment Process and Claims

After receiving medical help, keep a copy of any bills, receipts or documentation the health care provider gives you, and show your travel medical insurance card to the reception or billing department. They will make a copy, verify your insurance policy, and bill the provider directly. In these instances, your only out-of-pocket expenses will be the deductible or co-pay amount.

In other instances, you may have to pay for services at the time, and then file a claim with your health insurance plan provider afterward. With this process, you'll fill out a claims form and submit it to the insurance company, which will then be evaluated. At the end of the process, the insurer will reimburse you for medical services according to the specifications of the travel medical insurance plan, its deductible and your level of coverage. 

How Much Travel Medical Insurance Do I Need?

How much travel medical insurance you need will depend upon a number of factors. When purchasing a plan, you’ll have the option of choosing which plan you want based on coverage and benefits, as well as choosing between policy coverage maximums, deductibles, add-on coverage, and more.

A comprehensive coverage plan, such as CoverAmerica-Gold for US visitors, is an excellent option for those who are unsure of which plan to buy but want adequate coverage and good benefits.

How Much Does Medical Travel Insurance Cost?

Medical travel insurance will vary in cost, depending on certain things such as your age, destination, length of trip, and the plan itself and what benefits are offered. 

For example, a plan with pre-existing conditions coverage will ultimately cost more than a plan that offers no coverage for pre-existing conditions.

On average, travelers can expect to pay anywhere from $200-$300 on a basic travel medical insurance plan.

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Ready to purchase your travel medical insurance plan? Compare our top travel medical insurance plans or feel free to contact our Customer Success Team with any questions - we would be happy to help!