The complete guide to travel medical insurance

What is Travel Medical Insurance?

The Short Story: Travel medical insurance is designed specifically for medical care overseas and does not include protections for theft, trip cancellation, or other accidents (unlike travel insurance). Travel medical insurance covers trips up to 6 months long. 

Who is Travel Medical Insurance for?: If you just want medical care protection abroad (for emergencies, evacuations, in/outpatient services, Rx drugs, therapy, etc.), this insurance is for you. Medical care under these plans will be more like the process and care you're used to receiving in the U.S.  

The Longer Story: 

  • Covers pre-existing conditions for medical services and medical evacuation.
  • Covers trips up to 6 months (usually maxes out at 180 days) for ages 84 or younger.
  • Typically a higher medical limit than travel insurance ($1,000,000 versus $100,000).
  • Typically cheaper than travel insurance, since it doesn't include coverage for stolen items, cancelled flights or other "accidental" travel emergencies. 
  • Important Note: Some plans require a U.S.-based health plan, others do not. 

What is the approximate cost of travel medical insurance? 

Of course prices change over time, but current research shows prices between $75-$100 to cover a month of your travel (as a single 33-year-old and a plan with $0 deductible). 

Crucial: Ask about Pre-Existing Conditions

Some of these plans only cover pre-existing conditions if you have a U.S.-based health plan already, which most of you probably will. However if you don't, you may be excluded from pre-existing condition coverage. Always best to ask. 

FAQs about travel medical insurance

What are some of my best travel medical insurance options?

We've done a lot of research on this type of insurance and strongly advise you to begin your search process at GeoBlue or IMG. They offer the most straightforward "health insurance only" options for single trips, i.e. they don't include a bunch of add-ons like theft, cancellation insurance, etc. 

I can't decide between travel insurance and travel medical insurance. Help!

It all comes down to three things you need to make a tough decision about:

1. Do you want a pre-existing health condition covered? Do you anticipate problems with a pre-existing condition?

If you are worried about a certain health condition causing trouble abroad (and aren't simply looking for accident/emergency care), you should purchase travel medical insurance. 

2. Do you need additional coverages like theft and trip cancellation insurance?

If you don't care about additional insurances, travel health insurance is cheaper and offers more health-specific coverage. If you are traveling with a lot of expensive gear and want protection from theft, travel insurance is more appropriate.  You may end up deciding you want both types of insurance.

3. Cost & Coverage trade-off

Travel health insurance is less expensive (since it is just medical care) and usually offers health protection up to $1,000,000. Travel insurance is more expensive (because of all the add ons) and usually includes emergency health coverage up to $100,000. Back to top