If you are traveling outside your home country, it is highly advisable to purchase travel medical insurance. However, it can be confusing to figure out how to choose the best travel medical insurance with so many different travel medical insurance plans from different insurance companies available.
The type of travel medical insurance you choose depends upon the type of trip you are taking.
Single Trip Insurance
If you are traveling outside your home country for a specific trip duration, you should consider a single trip travel insurance. Most people purchase this kind of insurance.
Destination Based Insurance
Within the single trip insurance, the kind of insurance you purchase depends upon where you are traveling. Not all travel medical insurance plans are the most suitable option for everywhere.
If you are traveling to the USA, 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 to pay the rest. They are low cost travel insurance. On the other hand, comprehensive coverage plans pay in terms of percentage and most of them participate in PPO networks, which makes it much easier for direct billing.
If you are traveling to Schengen countries, make sure to purchase a 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.
Multi Trip Insurance
If you are traveling outside your home country frequently throughout the year, you should consider purchasing annual multi trip insurance instead. It is primarily targeted towards business executives or to those in a sales job who travel abroad frequently.
Activity Based Insurance
If you are traveling outside your home country for studying, there are international student medical insurance plans that are more suitable.
If you are traveling in a group of 5 or more, consider purchasing a group travel medical insurance. They essentially provide the same coverage as the individual travel medical insurance, but they are usually 10% cheaper and you can make a single application for all the people in a group. However, there may be restrictions related to making changes only for a few people in the group or ability to extend the policy.
If you will be living outside your home country for an extended duration, such as for 1 year or more, instead of purchasing travel medical insurance, you should instead consider expatriate health insurance.
International private medical insurance (iPMI) are international health insurance plans that are long term annually-renewable major medical insurance plans and may provide additional benefits such as wellness, preventive care, maternity, dental, vision and life insurance. Additionally, some of them may allow you to come home for medical treatment, provided you have selected the appropriate coverage area.
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 the travel insurance plans provide the same amount of coverage for various benefits. Therefore, it is very important for you to understand various benefits and 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, emergency room treatment as well as outpatient treatment such as doctor visit, prescription drugs, lab work and x-rays.
If you are traveling to a third world country or a remote location where healthcare may be poor, 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 $2,000,000 and there is practically no difference between them, realistically the emergency medical evacuation is not going to 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 benefit.