Traveling Abroad? Get Health Insurance for International Travelers

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Traveling abroad is an exciting experience that allows you to explore new cultures, taste exotic cuisines, and create unforgettable memories. However, as much as we’d like to believe that nothing will go wrong during our travels, the truth is that accidents and illnesses can happen at any time. That’s why it’s essential to have health insurance when traveling internationally. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the benefits of having health insurance for international travelers and assume that their domestic healthcare coverage will suffice. However, this is not always the case, and without proper coverage, you may face hefty medical bills or, worse, be unable to receive the necessary medical attention.

If you don’t have much experience in the insurance industry, then choosing the right type of insurance for your travels can be a difficult task. After all, you want to be able to have access to the medical coverage you need, but on the other hand, you shouldn’t overpay for your insurance. This guide will explore why health insurance is a must-have for international travelers and the benefits of comprehensive coverage while exploring new destinations. This guide will explore why health insurance is a must-have for international travelers and the benefits of comprehensive coverage while exploring new destinations.

Importance of Health Insurance for Travelers

Traveling abroad can be unpredictable, and the last thing you want is to be caught off guard by a medical emergency. Unfortunately, accidents, illnesses, and injuries can occur anytime, even during a vacation. Health insurance for international travelers ensures you have access to quality medical care, regardless of where you are. With the right travel health insurance plan, you can avoid the high costs of medical treatment and focus on enjoying your trip.

Moreover, some countries require visitors to have health insurance as a condition of entry. For example, Schengen countries in Europe require visitors to have a minimum of €30,000 in health insurance coverage. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in denied entry or deportation. Therefore, having health insurance for international travel is a matter of personal safety and a legal requirement. Whenever you plan a vacation, make sure to double-check the legal insurance requirements in your destination country. Otherwise, you may end up in a situation where you purchase travel medical insurance that is insufficient, leading to potential legal trouble.

Lastly, having health insurance while traveling abroad gives you peace of mind. You can enjoy your trip without worrying about unexpected medical expenses, which can be financially devastating. A lot of people discard travel medical coverage as something unnecessary, thinking that the chances of something happening to them are low or near zero. That’s a big mistake. Accidents happen all the time, especially when you’re abroad, taking part in numerous vacation activities. With health insurance, you can focus on having fun and creating unforgettable memories without the stress of unexpected medical bills.

Health Insurance For International Travelers

Common Health Issues Faced by International Travelers

As an international traveler, you are exposed to different environments, foods, and activities that can affect your health. Travel medical insurance will allow you to enjoy them worry-free, as you have the certainty of receiving healthcare when you need it without facing massive hospital bills that often amount to tens of multiples of the cost of your travel insurance package.

Food and Water-Borne Illnesses

Travelers’ diarrhea, also known as Montezuma’s Revenge, is a common illness that affects many international travelers. This illness is caused by consuming contaminated food or water, and the symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other food and water-borne illnesses include cholera, typhoid fever, and hepatitis A.

While most of these conditions are not as serious or life-threatening, they still require urgent medical care. In many cases, a victim of a food or water-borne illness would have to receive an IV drip to rehydrate, as well as numerous medicines to get back to good health.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are a common vector for many diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus. These diseases are prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions, and travelers are advised to take precautions, such as wearing long-sleeved clothing and using mosquito repellent.

However, no mosquito repellent is 100% effective, so you don’t want to entirely rely on these products to keep you safe from mosquito bites. The diseases mentioned above are life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a common health issue faced by travelers who visit high-altitude destinations, such as mountainous regions. The symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.

In most cases, altitude sickness symptoms can be resolved by quickly returning to a lower altitude, but severe cases need hospital admission and recovery under the care of medical professionals.

Accidents and Injuries

Traveling often involves engaging in adventurous activities like skiing, hiking, and scuba diving. While these activities are fun, they also pose a risk of accidents and injuries, such as broken bones, sprains, and cuts. Treating these at a hospital is often prohibitively expensive without a travel medical insurance plan — in many destinations where the aforementioned sports are the main attraction, the healthcare industry thrives on treating accidents and injuries. Charging tourists a little extra for treatment than it would normally cost is not as uncommon as you might think.

Types of Travel Health Insurance Plans

There are different international plans, depending on your needs and budget. The sheer number of travel medical insurance policies can get intimidating really quickly, especially without prior experience in selecting coverage from travel insurance companies. You want to get the most comprehensive travel insurance plan possible but also stick to your specific needs. Why overpay for coverage that you already have or can say with full confidence that you simply won’t need on your trip?

Thankfully, we’re here to help you with a rundown of the most frequently chosen travel insurance packages. Take a look at our list, and assess which one suits your vacation plans the most. This will help you narrow down your search later down the line. Without further ado, some of the most common types of medical travel insurance plans include:

Single Trip Insurance

Single-trip insurance is ideal for travelers who are taking a one-time trip abroad. This plan covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and travel delays, among other benefits. This is by far the most common type of travel medical insurance and will provide you with emergency medical coverage for most of the injuries, illnesses, and accidents that may arise on your international trip.

Annual Multi-Trip Insurance

Annual multi-trip insurance suits frequent travelers who take several trips abroad in a year. This plan covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and travel delays for an entire year. This one is great if you’re a frequent traveler or need to travel multiple times a year for business purposes, for example. Keep in mind that this type of travel insurance package is significantly more expensive than single-trip insurance. The frequency of your travels is key here; if you’re planning to go abroad twice or thrice within a year, you might be better of with multiple single-trip packages than the multi-trip one.

Group Insurance

Group insurance is ideal for families or groups traveling together. This plan covers all group members’ medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and travel delays. It covers all the same things a traditional health insurance plan for travelers does but at a more attractive price than numerous individual plans. Make sure always to double-check whether or not your group insurance plan covers everything that would go into the regular, single-trip plan. Sometimes, group insurance companies limit the medical expense coverage for these packages to make the lower per-person price possible.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is a more extensive plan that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, travel delays, and other benefits, such as lost baggage and emergency medical evacuation. Included within these benefits, baggage insurance is a specific coverage that ensures protection against lost, stolen, or damaged luggage. You might want to opt for this kind of package if you’re taking a higher-risk journey and want to have all your bases covered. Oftentimes, comprehensive travel insurance plans can be tailored to the customer’s individual needs. Talk to your travel medical insurance provider to see if that would be possible in your case.

International Traveler Health Insurance

How to Choose the Right Travel Health Insurance Plan

Choosing the right international travel health insurance plan can be overwhelming, especially with many available options. Now that you know the various types of insurance packages you can buy, let’s move on to the factors that will play a crucial role in determining the extent of insurance you’ll need.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a travel health insurance plan:


The first thing to consider when choosing an international medical travel insurance plan is the coverage. Ensure the plan covers medical emergencies, hospitalization, evacuation, and other essential benefits. Every travel insurance provider will have slightly different coverage options, so it is paramount that you thoroughly go over your trip itinerary to know what risks you might run into during your travels.

Duration of Trip

Consider the duration of your trip when selecting medical insurance for international travel. A single-trip insurance plan may be sufficient for a short trip. However, an annual multi-trip insurance plan may be more appropriate if you take several trips in a year. Moreover, the length of your trip will also determine how much the entire package will cost. Intuitively, the shorter your trip, the lower the price.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, ensure the travel health insurance plan covers it. Some plans exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, while others provide limited coverage. A travel insurance plan that covers a pre-existing condition will be more expensive, but it is essential if you’re suffering from such an illness. The specific type and severity of your condition also play a role in the final estimation of your travel insurance plan’s costs.


Consider the destination. For example, some countries have higher medical costs than others, and you may need a plan with higher coverage limits. If you’re traveling to the United States, for instance, you can expect much steeper pricing than anywhere else. Some insurance companies also group their coverage by region, meaning that if you buy a package for a particular region, for example, the EU, you’ll be covered in all the countries that are a part of it.


Lastly, consider the cost. Compare different plans and choose the best value for your money. While the price is an important factor in your insurance considerations, your final choice shouldn’t be primarily cost-driven. Some of the cheapest insurance packages are not enough to cover full treatment costs for certain common injuries or illnesses, especially in countries with expensive health care. If you don’t want to split the hospital bills with your insurance company, you should find a travel medical insurance plan that strikes the balance between a low price and comprehensive coverage.

What to Consider When Purchasing Travel Health Insurance

When purchasing travel health insurance, make sure you read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of the plan. Many insurance companies have hidden clauses within the contracts to protect themselves from bearing high costs of treatments in the case of a unique accident, injury, or illness.

It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basic insurance concepts and terminology to avoid getting caught by surprise when you need medical care during your international trip. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a policy:


Make sure you understand the exclusions. For example, some plans may exclude coverage for certain activities, such as extreme sports or adventure activities. As we already mentioned earlier, it’s necessary to be well aware of what activities you’re going to engage in during your travels and plan your insurance plan purchase accordingly.


Always check the deductibles. A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. You’re not likely to find a travel insurance package that fully covers every single type of treatment, so choose a plan with a deductible that you can afford.

Coverage Limits

Many insurance providers will cover your treatment until a certain point. For example, if your treatment requires a lengthy hospital stay, your package may only cover a part of its duration. This is why you should always check the coverage limits in your travel insurance contract. Ensure the plan provides adequate coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalization, and evacuation, if necessary.

Claim Process

Understand the claim process. Ensure you know how to file a claim and what documents you must provide. The process differs from company to company, and you might want to include the complexity and duration of the claim process in your considerations.

Top Insurance Providers for International Travelers

Not all insurance companies are created equal. Some may excel as primary health insurance providers but might not offer comprehensive international travel insurance coverage. For others, it’s exactly the other way around.

At The Annuity Experts, we pride ourselves in our knowledge of the best insurance providers that cater to the specific needs of our clients. Take a look at our selection of the best health insurance providers for international travelers:

Allianz Global Assistance

Allianz Global Assistance is a well-known insurance provider offering international travelers health insurance. Allianz travel insurance provides coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalization, and emergency evacuation, among other benefits.

GeoBlue (Blue Cross Blue Shield Travel Insurance)

GeoBlue is a popular insurance provider that offers international health insurance for adventurous travelers. Blue Cross Blue Shield travel insurance has one of the best short-term medical insurance for travel abroad, covering medical emergencies, adventure activities, and evacuation.

IMG Global

IMG Global is one of the best travel medical insurance providers offering international travelers health insurance. IMG travel insurance provides coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalization, and emergency evacuation, among other benefits.

Travel Medical Insurance, Travel Health Insurance, International Travel Insurance

Coverage Options and Benefits of Travel Health Insurance

Health insurance policies for international travel cover medical emergencies, hospitalization, and emergency evacuation, among other benefits. Get to know all of the medical benefits of each package you’re considering to have an easier time comparing and contrasting them.

Here are some of the most common coverage options and benefits:

Medical Emergencies

Health insurance for international travel covers medical emergencies, such as accidents and illnesses. This coverage includes hospitalization, doctor’s fees, and medication.


If you need to be hospitalized during your trip, international travel medical insurance covers the cost of hospitalization, including room and board, nursing care, and medical supplies. When it comes to hospitalization, it’s important to check the providers’ coverage limits to see how long of a hospital stay they can cover.

Emergency Evacuation

If you need to be evacuated to a hospital or medical facility during your trip, travel medical insurance covers the cost of the evacuation, including transportation and medical staff.

Trip Cancellation

If you need to cancel your trip due to a medical emergency, the policy covers the cancellation cost, including non-refundable deposits and reservations. Other trip interruption instances may not be covered by the trip cancellation clause, so if you’re anticipating any additional problems to arise during your travels, bring them up with your potential provider.

Lost or Stolen Baggage

The policy covers lost or stolen baggage, including personal items and clothing reimbursement. A lot of travel medical insurance plans do not factor this into their offer, instead providing clients with add-ons to their packages at an extra cost. Oftentimes, airlines will also provide this type of benefit to their customers when booking flight tickets. It might be a good idea to compare these airline prices to your insurance provider’s to get the best deal on lost or stolen baggage insurance.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

If you suffer an accidental death or dismemberment during your trip, the insurance covers the expenses associated with the incident.

How to File a Claim with Your Travel Health Insurance Provider

While the claim filing process is different depending on the insurance provider whose services you’re enlisting, there are quite a few key similarities that will remain the same regardless of the insurance company. Knowing them will help you streamline the whole process as much as possible.

If you need to file a claim with your insurance provider, here’s what you need to do:

Contact your Insurance Provider

Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and provide them with the details of your medical emergency. They will get back to you with detailed instructions on how to start the claim process to have your emergency medical expenses covered.

Keep All Documents

Handling large amounts of paperwork is an integral part of filing an insurance claim. Keep all documents related to your medical emergency, including medical bills, hospitalization records, and receipts. Insurance providers will jump at the chance of limiting your coverage due to a missing bill or any other lacking documentation, so make sure that the hospital provides you with every bit of paperwork you need for your claim.

Fill Out the Claim Form

Every insurance provider will have their own unique claim form. Fill out the claim form provided by your insurance provider and attach all relevant documents. If you need any help completing this document, don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider to avoid any extra out-of-pocket expenses due to any missing information from your claim form.

Submit Claim Form

Nowadays, the submission of most insurance claims takes place online. Make sure that you have the link to the submission page saved so that you can use it as soon as you’re done filling out your form. Then, submit the claim form along with all the relevant documents to your insurance provider.

Follow Up

Once your claim is sent, be sure to follow up with your insurance provider to ensure that it is processed and paid out. It might take a few follow-ups until you get it, but remain persistent; when you’re at a hospital in a foreign country, they will not discharge you until the bill is paid.

Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling Abroad

Travel health insurance is not the most pleasant thing to take care of when planning your vacation abroad, but it’s necessary. After all, insurance is probably one of the only things that you’re buying with the hopes of never having to use it! While having it is essential, you should also do other things to stay healthy while traveling abroad and avoid hospital visits. Here are some tips:

Get Vaccinated

Make sure you get vaccinated before traveling abroad. Check with your doctor or a travel health clinic to see which vaccines are recommended for your destination. It’s also very important for your travel medical insurance — many contracts have clauses that will keep the company from paying out a claim filed due to contracting a disease that’s easily prevented with a vaccine.

Practice Good Hygiene

Regardless of your trip’s destination, you should always practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and carrying hand sanitizer. Most of the communicable diseases contracted by travelers are rooted in poor hygiene practices and disregarding the differences in the bacterial floras between countries. You can avoid catching nasty bugs by simply taking a few extra steps to keep your hands clean while abroad.

Drink Bottled Water

Tap water isn’t safe to drink in every country around the globe. When abroad, you should always opt to drink bottled water or use a water filtration system to avoid drinking contaminated water. With that in mind, you might also want to avoid consuming ice with drinks from restaurants and bars unless you’ve made sure that the ice cubes were made with filtered water.

Be Careful What You Eat

Be careful what you eat, and avoid street food or food sitting out for a long time. A lot of street vendors don’t always follow health and sanitation regulations, so it’s best to steer clear of them in favor of licensed stalls and restaurants.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Sunburns can significantly impact the enjoyment of your vacation, and more severe cases may even land you in the hospital. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

Stay Active

Vacationing is not all about laying flat on the beach and consuming copious amounts of local food. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to a number of worrying conditions, such as high blood pressure. To keep healthy and happy during your trip, stay active while traveling by engaging in physical activities like hiking or walking. Bear in mind that it’s a double-edged sword, as some activities may heighten your risk of injury. Make sure to always wear protective equipment and remain cautious when engaging in activities such as water sports or mountain hikes.

The Best International Travel Medical Insurance Plans
The Best International Travel Health Insurance Plans


Traveling abroad is an exciting experience that exposes you to new cultures, foods, and adventures. However, it’s essential to have health insurance when traveling internationally to protect yourself from unexpected medical expenses and legal requirements. When choosing an international travel insurance plan, consider the coverage, duration of your trip, pre-existing medical conditions, destination, and cost. Remember to read the fine print and understand the plan’s exclusions, deductibles, coverage limits, and claim process.

Health insurance for travel provides coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalization, and emergency evacuation, among other benefits. However, staying healthy while traveling also requires taking precautions, such as getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene, drinking bottled water, being careful what you eat, protecting yourself from the sun, and staying active. With the right travel insurance plan and these tips, you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind.

Health Insurance For International Travelers

Travel Medical Insurance Quotes

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between travel medical insurance and international health insurance?

Travel medical insurance is for short-term trips and covers emergencies, like accidents or illness when you’re abroad. International health insurance provides comprehensive healthcare coverage for expats or long-term travelers, including routine check-ups and chronic conditions. The latter is designed for prolonged or permanent stays abroad.

Does my health insurance cover international travel?

Most standard domestic health insurance policies provide limited or no coverage for international travel. Some may cover emergency situations, but often not the cost of medical evacuation back to your home country. Always check with your insurer before you travel. Consider purchasing travel medical insurance or an international insurance policy to ensure coverage abroad.

Do I need to buy health insurance for traveling abroad?

Yes, it’s recommended to buy health insurance when traveling abroad. Domestic health insurance may not cover international incidents or emergencies, exposing you financially. Travel medical insurance or international health insurance can cover medical emergencies, medical evacuation, and other related costs, offering crucial protection during your trip.

How much does travel medical insurance cost?

Travel medical insurance cost varies depending on factors like the length of the trip, the coverage amount, the traveler’s age, and the destination. Typical costs range from about 4% to 10% of your total trip cost. However, basic travel medical insurance can be cheaper without trip cancellation coverage.

What is the average cost of international health insurance?

The average cost of international health insurance can vary widely depending on age, coverage level, geographic area, and overall health. A basic plan could cost a few hundred dollars a month, while a comprehensive plan could cost a few thousand. Always check with multiple providers for an accurate quote for your specific needs.

Can a tourist to the USA get health insurance?

Yes, tourists to the USA can purchase visitor insurance, which provides short-term coverage for medical emergencies during their visit. These policies typically cover emergency medical care and evacuation but do not cover routine check-ups or pre-existing conditions. It’s recommended for tourists, as healthcare in the USA can be expensive without insurance.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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