Do I Need Travel Insurance If I Have Health Insurance? (2024)

Do I Need Travel Insurance If I Have Health Insurance? (1)

While on a rainforest hike in Costa Rica, you catch your foot on a liana vine and crash to the ground. As your ankle swells to alarming proportions, you manage to hobble back to the jeep and reach a nearby private hospital. But when you pull out your U.S. health insurance card, the hospital staff shakes their heads. It's cash up front or nothing.

This happens more often than you think. Travelers assume their health insurance works overseas — but not every insurance plan will cover you for every destination and situation. If you're planning a trip abroad and wondering, "Do I need travel insurance if I have health insurance?” here's how to find out.

Do I need travel insurance if my insurer offers overseas health insurance?

When you're planning an overseas trip, you should call your insurance company beforehand to ask if your plan includes overseas health insurance. Some do, some don't, and some will cover you only in certain situations. The U.S. Department of State suggests some questions to ask your insurer, including:

  • Does my plan cover emergency expenses abroad such as returning me to the United States for treatment if I become seriously ill?
  • Do you require pre-authorizations or second opinions before emergency treatment can begin?
  • Do you guarantee medical payments abroad?

While we can't speak to what your specific insurance policy will cover overseas, here are the general policies of a few major insurers.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield does offer travel coverage, but draws a line between "urgent care" and "emergency care." Emergency care, Anthem says, is requires by an injury or condition severe enough to result in "placing the Member's physical and or mental health in serious jeopardy; serious impairment to bodily functions; or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part."

"Urgent care," on the other hand, "may not be covered to the same extent as emergency care." For example, Anthem says, a fever not higher than 104° is considered urgent, not emergency care.

Aetna states that "emergency care is covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week – anywhere in the world." An emergency, Aetna says, "is a situation in which you could reasonably expect that the absence of immediate medical attention could result in serious jeopardy to your health, or if you are a pregnant woman, to the health of your unborn child." Cigna advises members to check their policies: "Outside of the U.S., coverage is limited to emergency services as defined in the policy."

In short, your definition of "emergency" may differ from your insurer's definition, and you may find yourself on the hook for medical expenses you thought were covered. That's why buying travel insurance is so important, U.S. News reports, because it "can help fill any gaps in domestic health insurance coverage."

Do I need travel insurance if I have Medicare?

The short answer: Yes. According to, health care you get while traveling outside the U.S. isn't covered. There are a few rare exceptions. If, for instance, you're traveling through Canada to get to Alaska when a medical emergency occurs, and a Canadian hospital is the nearest facility, Medicare may cover your treatment.

You can purchase a Medigap policy to cover emergency care received outside the United States. This policy pays 80 percent of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 yearly deductible. Medigap coverage has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

The OneTrip Prime Plan from Allianz Global Assistance, on the other hand, has no deductible and offers benefits for 100 percent of losses due to covered medical emergencies, up to $50,000 per trip.

Three things to know about travel insurance vs. overseas health insurance

  1. Travel insurance isn't the same thing as health insurance.
    Travel insurance with emergency medical benefits offers just that — benefits for losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies. It doesn't cover preventive, routine or elective medical care. Appendicitis in Amsterdam? Probably covered. Rhinoplasty in Rio? Not covered.
  2. Travel insurance includes some major benefits that health insurance plans don't offer.
    When you buy international travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance, you're not just getting benefits to cover emergency medical expenses. You also get emergency medical transportation benefits, up to $1 million (depending on the plan you choose) to travel to the nearest appropriate medical facility or to return home. This is huge. If you need to be airlifted to a hospital, or you need a nurse to escort you home, the costs will be exorbitant without travel insurance.

    Travel insurance also includes trip cancellation and interruption protection to reimburse you for non-refundable trip payments, in case you have to cancel your travel because of covered illness, injury or another covered reason.

  3. Travel insurance includes personal, one-on-one help in emergencies.
    Call the 24-hour assistance hotline from anywhere in the world, andour call center experts will help you, including serving as interpreters and even arranging to fly a family member to your bedside, if necessary.

We know this gets confusing, and we're here to help. Call our travel insurance advisers anytime at 1-866-884-3556, and they can talk you through your travel insurance options and coverage needs. Travel happy!

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Do I Need Travel Insurance If I Have Health Insurance? (2024)


Do I Need Travel Insurance If I Have Health Insurance? ›

Before you travel, consider getting travel insurance to cover yourself in case delays, accidents, or illness occur on your trip. Your current medical insurance may not cover care in another country. Also, some types of travel insurance help you cover costs if your travel is cancelled or disrupted.

Do I need travel insurance if I already have insurance? ›

Even if your health plan does cover you internationally, you may want to consider buying a special medical travel policy. Much of the additional coverage available is supplemental (or "secondary"), so it covers whatever expenses your health plan doesn't, such as deductibles.

Does health insurance count as travel insurance? ›

Generally, most domestic health insurance policies are not accepted abroad, so there is a benefit to purchasing travel medical insurance as a supplement to your health insurance coverage. The travel medical coverage is only valid while you're traveling.

Does my health insurance cover me when I travel internationally? ›

U.S. health insurance plans typically do not cover regular and routine medical care required overseas. This means your health insurance won't pay for care if you need to visit a doctor for a prescription medicine, or if you need treatment for a condition that is not considered an emergency.

Does US health insurance cover international travel emergencies? ›

You might be able to get some emergency coverage abroad to an extent, but you won't be able to visit a doctor for a routine procedure or buy prescription medication and expect a reimbursem*nt. Private insurance might or might not offer coverage overseas, but again, it depends on the plan you have.

Do I need additional medical insurance when traveling abroad? ›

Make sure you have a plan to get care overseas, in case you need it. Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will be traveling to remote areas.

Should I bring my health insurance card overseas? ›

Understand what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas before traveling. Carry your insurance card and a claim form if your policy covers you outside the United States.

What happens if you have a medical emergency abroad? ›

Although hospitals or clinics might look slightly different overseas, they should still mostly resemble a typical health care center like here in the United States. Most professionals from other countries, especially in urbanized areas, will be able to provide you with the necessary medical care.

Which insurance is best for international travel? ›

Some of the most beneficial and hence popular international travel covers are offered by the following companies:
  • ICICI Lombard.
  • HDFC Ergo.
  • Bajaj Allianz.
  • Reliance Insurance.
  • Royal Sundaram.

What is the best medical insurance for international travel? ›

The Best Travel Medical Insurance Plans
CompanyAverage Plan CostCOVID-19 Coverage
Faye GET QUOTE$298Yes
International Medical Group GET QUOTE$217Yes
AIG Travel Guard GET QUOTE$251Yes, limited
Allianz Global Assistance GET QUOTE$265Yes
1 more row

What happens if a US citizen gets sick in Europe? ›

While no system is perfect, Europe's universal health care does mean that everyone is taken care of — including foreigners. So if you get sick or injured while traveling, you will receive treatment, no questions asked.

How much medical coverage do I need for international travel? ›

How much travel medical insurance do you need? Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site, recommends buying at least $50,000 in emergency medical coverage for international travel. For travelers going on a cruise or to a remote destination, the site recommends at least $100,000 in coverage.

What happens if an American goes to the hospital in Europe? ›

Emergency Medical Treatment: If you require medical attention while traveling in Europe, your travel insurance policy may cover expenses related to emergency medical treatment. This can include doctor's visits, hospital stays, surgery, prescription medications, and other necessary medical services.

How much does international health insurance cost? ›

How much does international health insurance cost? The annual cost of an international medical insurance plan will range from as low as $500, with limited benefits, to as much as $8,000 for a comprehensive global medical insurance policy, including coverage in the USA. The average cost is $5,500 per year.

How much does international travelers insurance cost? ›

Cost of Travel Insurance by Provider
CompanyAverage Cost
Travel Insured International$199
Generali Global Assistance$201
Travelex Insurance$202
Nationwide Travel Insurance$206
20 more rows

What is the difference between travel insurance and international health insurance? ›

International health insurance is designed to provide a comprehensive level of health care to those relocating from their home country for a sustained period of time, whereas travel insurance provides cover for emergency treatment while you are in another country for a shorter space of time.

Can you claim Cancelled flights on travel insurance? ›

Cancellation cover is a common inclusion with most standard travel insurance policies, but you can take it out separately if it doesn't offer enough cover. Alternatively, if you only want cancellation cover to protect you against cancelled flights rather than baggage protection, you can get it for that.

What does travel insurance not cover? ›

Most travel insurance policies won't pay out if you're negligent while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and have an accident or have property stolen.

Can you have double travel insurance? ›

'If you have two insurance policies and need to make a claim, both insurers may suggest that the other one should pay. 'Ultimately, if both insurers end-up paying out a share of costs, you may be subject to two excesses. ' While having two insurance policies isn't illegal, having one good one is usually a better bet.

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