Understanding Travel Health Insurance

More Americans are traveling than ever before, but many of those travelers are not aware of how or even if their normal health insurance will cover them when they’re out of the country. In most cases, a smart traveler is going to need a travel health insurance policy. Travel health insurance can make a big difference when you need it most. So how does it work? Here are the basics:

1.  Travel health insurance is different than travel insurance. Although the two terms sound similar, “travel insurance” is insurance that helps you recoup the costs of a canceled trip, like non-refundable air fare and hotel costs. Some travel health insurance policies will include travel insurance as a perk, or other benefits like lost luggage coverage or even liability.

2.  You can acquire a policy for almost any trip—even very short ones. Many people think that getting a policy for a short trip will be too expensive to justify the cost, but costs scale down nicely and many travel health insurance policies are written for trips as short as a few days or a week. You may find yourself spending as little as $20-50 for a short term travel health insurance policy and that small investment will pay off immensely if you end up needing the coverage.

3.  Travel health insurance can cover the cost of evacuation. This is one of the biggest perks of travel health insurance. What do you do if you have a medical emergency while abroad? The best answer is often medical evacuation, which means you are flown back to the doctors you trust at home; receiving care the whole way. Without insurance, medical evacuation can cost tens of thousands of dollars making it impossible for many patients. But it’s standard in many travel health insurance policies.

4.  A simple travel health policy can be paired with regular insurance. If you already have a health insurance plan at home, you may not need to spend big to get adequate protection overseas. The more expensive travel health plans include coverage for long stays in foreign hospitals—but that’s redundant with medical evacuation. Instead of springing for the extra coverage, you can pair an affordable travel policy with evacuation coverage with your normal, home-based health insurance. 


The first step of getting travel health insurance is to simply talk to a broker and compare policies. As you get a sense of what’s available, you’ll find it can be accessible and affordable. Do you have experience with travel health insurance? We’d love to hear from you!