If you're traveling outside your home country, it is highly advisable that you purchase travel medical insurance. However, it can be confusing to figure out how to choose the best travel medical insurance plan with so many different plans from different insurance companies available.
What is the Best Type of Travel Medical Insurance for You?
The type of travel medical insurance you'll need depends on the type of trip you're taking.
Single-Trip, Destination-Based Insurance
For single trips away from home, the appropriate coverage depends on your destination(s).
Visiting the USA
If you live abroad and are traveling to the USA for a visit, consider purchasing visitors insurance. This type comes primarily in two varieties, fixed coverage plans and comprehensive coverage plans. Fixed coverage plans pay a fixed amount for each and every procedure, and you would be responsible for paying the rest. They are a low-cost travel insurance option. On the other hand, comprehensive coverage plans pay in terms of percentage, and most of them participate in PPO networks, which makes direct billing much easier.
Schengen Countries in Europe
If you're traveling to any of the European Schengen countries, make sure to purchase Schengen visa insurance. This coverage meets all the requirements set by the Schengen agreement. You should be able to download a visa letter immediately after the purchase.
Travel Outside USA
If your travel excludes the USA, you should consider single-trip travel health insurance. As the name suggests, this insurance lasts for the duration of a single trip. Most people traveling outside of their home country purchase this kind of insurance when their travel does not include the United States.
If you have a group of 5 or more people traveling outside their home country for a single trip, then you may prefer a Group Travel Medical Insurance plan. There are advantages to choosing a group travel insurance plan if your group meets the eligibility requirements for a given plan.
Multi Trip Insurance
If you're traveling outside your home country frequently throughout the year, you should consider purchasing annual multi trip insurance. This type of insurance is primarily geared toward business executives or those in sales jobs who travel abroad frequently, but it is available to anyone that takes frequent trips.
Activity Based Insurance
If you're traveling outside your home country for a specific activity, you should know that many insurance companies offer plans tailored to specific activities.
Missionary travel insurance is available to those who participate in short mission trips in foreign countries – 5 days to less than a year. Plans can be purchased by individuals or by the organization running the trip. The benefits of missionary travel insurance include coverage of emergency medical expenses, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation / repatriation (which could come in handy, as many missionaries work in remote parts of the world that lack adequate medical facilities), and ancillary benefits like natural disaster relief, emergency prescription drug refills, and emergency cash transfers.
Hazardous Sports and Activities
Hazardous sports travel insurance is available for a person who plans to participate in any extreme or adventure sports during a trip abroad. Most base travel insurance plans don't cover hazardous sports, as the risk is too great; those that do provide coverage may charge an additional premium for specific high-risk activities. Hazardous sports travel insurance is a rider that offers coverage for sports like bungee jumping, kayaking, jet skiing, snow skiing, sky diving, scuba diving, hiking and mountaineering, and more. Make sure to check the certificate wording of your specific plan to be sure your planned activities are covered.
Student and Scholar-Based Insurance
If you're a student traveling abroad for educational reasons, there are several different insurance plans specifically designed for your needs.
F Visa International Students
International student insurance is for F-1 visa holders: nonimmigrant, international students enrolled full-time in a U.S. academic program (elementary school, high school, university, and beyond). Some universities may offer a school-sponsored group health insurance plan but do allow students to purchase their own plan. We offer instant confirmation and can help students complete their compliance form. These plans are extendable to ensure international students years' worth of coverage. Most plans offer a reasonable premium and standard benefits like choices of policy maximum, a low deductible, high coinsurance, coverage for pre-existing conditions, and coverage for mental health.
J Visa Exchange Visitors
Exchange visitors insurance, on the other hand, is for J-1 visa holders such as university students, research scholars, camp counselors, au pairs, physicians, and more who are participating in exchange programs. Standard benefits required for a J Visa include emergency medical evacuation coverage, the return of mortal remains, and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage. We offer many plans that meet the U.S. State Department's standard J-1 visa requirements and also include participation in PPO networks. Additionally, we can help complete a compliance form if necessary.
Finally, study abroad insurance offers coverage to U.S. residents studying outside the U.S. All of our study abroad plans include medical coverage, emergency medical evacuation, and repatriation of mortal remains; additional coverages vary by plan. Please be aware that study abroad insurance plans are not Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant. Parents can also purchase these plans on behalf of their student children.
If you will be living outside your home country for an extended duration, such as one year or more, instead of purchasing a short-duration travel medical insurance plan, you should consider these long-term international medical insurance options.
Expatriate health insurance is for anyone residing outside the U.S. for more than 6 months in a given year or outside their home country. The plans are an annually renewable major medical insurance that provide a high medical policy maximum, wellness checkups, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, and optional benefits like maternity, dental, life insurance, and more.
Long-Term Missionary Trips
Marine crew health insurance is an annually renewable major health insurance plan for marine and yacht crew members while at sea and on land. You're not required to be a resident of any one place, although some plans do require that you be employed aboard a sea-going vessel to qualify. Coverage includes accidents, sickness, doctor's visits, hospitalization, surgery, and more. Be sure to read the certification wording for details.
If you need ACA-compliant insurance, these long-term insurance plans will not meet the requirements.
This article focuses mainly on travel medical insurance plans. If you're looking for coverage beyond health insurance into benefits like trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost baggage, travel delays, passport replacement, rental car coverage, cancel for any reason, and more, please consider purchasing travel insurance.
Identifying Important Benefits
There are many factors that determine the premium amounts for travel medical insurance. Not everyone needs all the benefits, and not all insurance plans provide the same coverage for various benefits. Therefore, it is very important for you to understand the different benefits a given plan offers to determine what is important for you, and accordingly prioritize the benefits.
Most travel medical insurance plans would provide core benefits such as hospital room and board, ICU, and emergency room treatment, as well as outpatient treatment such as doctor's visits, prescription drugs, lab work, and X-rays.
If you are traveling to a third-world country or a remote location where healthcare may be inadequate, you should consider purchasing a travel insurance plan that includes a high amount of emergency medical evacuation, such as $100,000 or more. Some plans provide coverage of $500,000 or even $2 million, and there is practically no difference between them, as realistically, the emergency medical evacuation will not cost that much.
If you are traveling with children, make sure that the plan has a return of minor children benefit in case you are hospitalized abroad. If you are traveling for a longer duration, consider a plan with emergency reunion and bedside visit benefits. If you are traveling with a pet, you want to consider a plan that has pet return benefits.