Should I Get Medical Travel Insurance?

Should I get medical travel insurance? It’s a thought that hits most people when they’re taking a major vacation — because nothing crushes a dream vacation like a sudden health emergency (or even a minor medical issue, for that matter).

When such an inconvenience happens, you don’t want to find yourself abroad and unprepared. That’s especially true if your health insurance coverage doesn’t extend outside of the country. So here’s why medical travel insurance is important

Health Insurance Doesn’t Apply Abroad

Some high-end health insurance plans may well cover medical expenses outside of the country, but the vast majority of American health insurance policies do not. That includes Medicare, which only covers health needs within the United States.

“Even if you have a Medicare supplement that nominally covers foreign travel,” explains USA Today, “benefits are so meager that you might need additional insurance.”

Medical Coverage Comes Bundled

If you already plan on buying some other form of travel insurance, like a trip cancellation policy, odds are you can bundle it with medical coverage. By combining them you can save money on both forms of protection and feel at ease about the possibility of illness abroad.

More Than Just Emergencies

man wearing mask while traveling
Photo: iStock

Some domestic health insurance companies will provide you with emergency coverage while you’re traveling, but you have to ask ahead of time and not every malady qualifies as an emergency. Say, for instance, you find yourself vomiting the escargots you ate for dinner at that quaint little bistro on the West Bank and you need to see a doctor. Your regular health insurance might not consider it an emergency, but that doesn’t change the fact that you need a medical professional.

Medical travel insurance, on the other hand, covers a wide range of potential hazards. You can get medical travel insurance that covers the cost of transportation to a local medical center or the price of local prescriptions.

“If you need to be airlifted to a hospital or you need a nurse to escort you home,” explains Allianz, “the costs will be exorbitant without travel insurance.”

Emergency Contact

Of course, if there is a severe emergency, being in a foreign country can make the whole situation even more stressful. But most medical travel insurance will provide you with a 24-hour hotline for personal, one-on-one help in a bind. Such services often offer over-the-phone translation if you do not speak the local language. Additionally, some plans will even pay to fly a family member to you, in the case that you require bedside company.

When It’s Definitely Worth It

In short, medical travel insurance is a great resource for a variety of potential risks. If you are only traveling for a week or so, you might not find it a necessary expense. However, if you plan on traveling for an extended period of time, it is definitely worth the peace of mind.

Bon voyage!

Sources: USA Today, Allianz