Even though travel medical insurance is recommended for most international travelers, there are certain types of travelers for whom travel medical insurance is not suitable.
International travel medical insurance is designed to cover people traveling outside their home country. Therefore, if you are traveling within your home country, travel medical insurance would not cover domestic travel. Please check with your domestic health insurance, as it will most likely provide coverage when traveling domestically.
Non-Refundable Trip Costs
Travel medical insurance generally covers any medical conditions, injuries or accidents that may occur after the effective date of the policy. It also provides various other benefits such as trip interruption, loss of checked luggage, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.
However, if you are concerned that if you are unable to go on your trip due to a valid reason and you will lose prepaid, non-refundable trip costs such as airline or cruise booking, hotel booking, tours booking and so on, you should consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance instead - this coverage is primarily based on the trip cost, the age and the duration of travel.
If you are traveling to a foreign country to receive treatment for a wide variety of reasons, it is called travel for medical tourism. Maybe, you don't have health insurance in your home country or perhaps the surgery you need is not covered by your health insurance. It could also be because your country has a socialized health system and the wait times are too long or for other reasons.
In such cases, you can't purchase travel medical insurance and expect them to cover your treatment abroad. You will have to pay the expenses out of your pocket. However, in some cases, your domestic health insurance may provide coverage for some or all of the expenses for treatments done in a foreign country simply because it would be a lot cheaper for them, compared to treatment in your home country.
If you have pre-existing medical conditions, even the best travel medical insurance will not pay for the routine maintenance of pre-existing conditions. Many people have medical conditions that require routine treatment such as kidney dialysis, insulin supplies for diabetes, oxygen supply, treatment of blood pressure/ heart disease or even delivery of baby (maternity). Paying for routine and expected treatments would simply be a loss for the insurance company and therefore, they are excluded.
There are certain travel medical insurance plans that provide coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions up to a specific maximum amount for people of a certain age. This benefit is purely for a sudden and unexpected emergency that arises due to pre-existing conditions and you would be required to take the treatment within the next 24 hours.
Long Term Coverage for Expats
If you are an expatriate that lives outside your home country for an extended duration, such as you are working or retried in a foreign country, you should consider expatriate health insurance which is an annually renewable major medical insurance plan.
In addition to the many benefits that travel medical insurance plans provide, individual private medical insurance (iPMI) may provide additional benefits such as preventive care, wellness checkups, and much more. Travel medical insurance plans are typically for a duration less than one year. (Some plans may be renewable up to 2 or 3 years, though.) Certain expatriate insurance plans may also include or provide options for dental, vision and life insurance coverage, sometimes at any additional cost.