The truth is that international health insurance and travel insurance provide very different types of coverage.
They might look similar – But they apply to different situations. Choose the wrong insurance and things can get expensive quickly.
I get it:
Health insurance vs travel insurance can be very confusing. The fact that you can now buy international health insurance also adds another level of confusion.
In this blog, I’ll explain the difference between international health insurance vs travel insurance so you can decide which is right for you. We’ll also list some of the best international health and travel insurance options at the end, so you are protected no matter where life takes you!
Differences Between International Health Insurance vs Travel Insurance
Let’s get straight into the difference between international health insurance vs travel insurance.
Health insurance is designed to cover medical costs if you become sick or injured. Health insurance often covers the cost of doctor visits, medication and hospital stays. Health Insurance can also provide coverage for pre-existing conditions and long-term chronic conditions.
On the other hand…
Travel insurance is specifically designed to protect you from unexpected issues that occur on holidays or trips – usually internationally. This can include unexpected events such as medical emergencies, flight delays, natural disasters, lost luggage and more.
Below is a table with differences between international health insurance and travel insurance to help better understand what can be included in each:
|International Health Insurance
|Medical Emergency Care
|New Born Care
|Lost Checked Luggage
|Personal Liability Insurance
That’s an overview of what can be included in both types of insurance options.
But the bottom line on health insurance vs travel insurance…
Health insurance covers medical costs and expenses related to health care, while travel insurance covers trip-related costs such as emergency medical and travel delays.
Now that you have a good idea of the difference between health insurance vs travel insurance…
Let’s take a deeper look at each of them.
What is International Health Insurance?
International Health Insurance provides health and medical coverage for medical costs outside your home country.
Some international health insurance providers will even provide global coverage that allows you to travel to multiple countries and still have coverage. Others are aimed more at expats who live overseas in a single country.
Here are some of the things that international health insurance generally covers:
- Medical and dental care
- Hospitalization and ambulance
- Doctor visits and checkups
- Prescription drugs and medications
- Treatment for pre-existing conditions
- Maternity and newborn care
- Physiotherapy and Chiropractic
- Vision and Dental checkups
- Mental Health Treatment
International health insurance is the most comprehensive form of coverage for people who live overseas for an extended period of time. This can include digital nomads, expats and even remote workers.
Think of health insurance as a safety net that offers medical expenses, treatment and preventative medical care.
Where Are You Covered?
This is a tricky one to answer.
Let me explain:
There are basically two types of international health insurance plans:
- Location specific
- Location independent
Location-specific health insurance is for people who move overseas and spend most of their time in a single country. This type of international health insurance covers them in that country only.
Location-independent health insurance covers people in any country (with some exceptions). This is aimed more at digital nomads, remote workers and even people who travel frequently.
As digital nomads, we lean towards location-independent digital nomad health insurance covering us in almost every country we visit, with a few exceptions. When choosing an international health insurance plan, ensure it suits your lifestyle.
Duration Of Coverage
Most international travel health insurance policies don’t have an expiration date.
But they do often have a minimum.
Here’s what that means:
You will remain covered as long as you continue to pay the monthly health insurance premiums. But there is also usually a minimum amount of monthly payments you need to make before certain benefits kick in.
So you must be careful with your chosen health insurance provider because it’s usually a long-term decision requiring at least a 12-month commitment.
Cost Of International Health Insurance
How much does international health insurance cost?
Insurance companies charge a range of different prices based on several factors. At the lower end, you can expect to pay about $120 USD per month for international health insurance. You can expect to pay about $500+ USD per month at the higher end.
The more you pay – the better benefits and lower deductibles you usually get.
Essentially the cost of your international health insurance policy comes down to the-
- Insurance company you choose
- Policy coverage
- Ductibles and limits
- Locations you are living in
- Country of citizenship
Remember that insurance companies are all about risk.
The riskier they feel it is to cover someone, the more that person will pay each month.
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance protects you from the possible costs of unexpected events while traveling.
This can include:
- Medical emergencies
- Emergency dental
- Lost or delayed luggage
- Canceled flights
- Travel delays
- Trip interruption
- Accidental death and dismemberment
- Stolen documents
- Personal belongings
- Political emergency evacuation
That’s why travel insurance is generally aimed at tourists. But digital nomads and remote workers can also take advantage of travel insurance.
There are two things to remember about travel insurance:
- It’s for emergencies or circumstances that require immediate action
- It’s for unexpected situations that occur
That means you can’t go overseas for medical tourism and claim it on your travel insurance. That is outside coverage provided.
Where Are You Covered?
These days it’s common to buy travel medical insurance policies that cover you globally (with some exceptions).
That means you are covered in most countries worldwide as long as you continue to pay the monthly premium.
But many travel insurance companies will still only offer insurance policies if you tell them the exact countries you are traveling to and when. They usually require upfront payment for the entire duration of your insurance policy.
The benefit is that they can sometimes be cheaper!
As digital nomads, we prefer global coverage one way travel insurance policies because it gives us more flexibility with our digital nomad lifestyle.
Duration Of Coverage
All travel insurance policies will have a maximum renewal time limit.
This is either defined by the-
- Dates you are traveling
- Or the max duration offered
“The dates you are traveling” is easy to understand – put in the dates and tell the travel insurance provider where you are going. They provide coverage for those countries and dates you entered.
On the other hand, companies that offer long-term travel insurance often have a Maximum renewal limit.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you have chosen SafetyWing as your travel insurance provider. They allow you to automatically renew your travel insurance for up to 12 months. Then you must manually renew it by providing up-to-date information.
This doesn’t mean you can’t renew it again after the 12 months.
It just means it won’t automatically renew and you’ll need to go through the signup process again. You usually pay for these kinds of policies on a monthly basis with the option to cancel anytime.
We usually opt for digital nomad insurance that offers longer-term plans because it better suits our lifestyle.
Cost Of Travel Insurance
How much does travel insurance cost?
The amount you will pay ultimately comes down to the level of coverage your want and the extras like personal item coverage. Travel insurance can start as low as $40 USD per month and go up to over $100+ USD per month, depending on your age.
Should You Buy International Health Insurance Or Travel Insurance?
International health insurance provides a comprehensive level of health care coverage. It covers medical costs and other related expenses, including preventative care like doctor visits.
Travel insurance provides coverage for emergency medical treatment and trip-related expenses such as lost baggage.
The truth is that the answer comes down to how much coverage you want and how long you are traveling for.
Going for a short-term trip and wanting to stay covered in an emergency? Travel insurance should be enough. But if you plan to live abroad long-term, international health insurance is probably the way.
At the end of the day – it comes down to your needs and preferences.
4x Best Travel Insurance Providers
Looking for a travel insurance provider you can trust?
Below are four of the best travel insurance companies worth checking out. Make sure you review each one to ensure that it’s right for you.
SafetyWing is one of the most popular travel insurance providers for remote workers, digital nomads and backpackers.
It’s also used by travelers going on extended trips overseas with no specific plan in mind.
Here’s why SafteyWing is popular:
First of all, SafetyWing offers decent medical and travel insurance benefits. That means you are covered for medical emergencies and extras like travel delays and trip interruption insurance.
But the other thing that makes SafetyWing great is their signup process. Signing up online takes just a few minutes and you can cancel anytime.
The monthly premiums renew every 28 days, so you don’t have to pay any huge upfront costs for your insurance. You can simply buy SafetyWing insurance abroad and stay abroad. You subscribe to continuous coverage and travel to multiple countries all on one policy.
Get a direct quote from SafetyWing using the form below:
Want to learn more about SafetyWing? Read our complete SafetyWing review to see why they are among the best travel insurance available.
Genki Travel Insurance
Genki Insurance is one of our favorite medical travel insurance providers.
They offer a comprehensive level of medical travel insurance with no limits on most benefits. All of this for an extremely affordable price. Genki travel insurance can even be purchased abroad and automatically renews on the same date each month.
The best part?
Genki has a very low deductible of only €50 and you can remove the deductible if you want.
The only thing to know is that Genki is focused on medical coverage. That means they don’t offer extra benefits like lost luggage or travel delays.
We recommend reading our complete Genki insurance review to see why we recommend their medical insurance plan.
Looking for travel insurance that has your back while you explore the world?
World Nomads might be your perfect option.
World Nomads travel insurance is designed for travelers by travelers.
Whether you’re taking a short or extended trip, you can buy World Nomads insurance before you leave OR while abroad. It’s up to you. This is something unique to World Nomads that not all travel insurance providers offer.
Doing some activities while you are away?
World Nomads has one of the most extended lists of covered activities of any travel insurance company worldwide. They cover 200+ adventure activities1
You also get low deductibles and large coverage limits for medical and travel-related costs. These are just some of the reasons why World Nomads are used by thousands of people worldwide.
Want to learn more about World Nomads? Make sure you check out our complete World Nomads travel insurance review.
World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
PassportCard Nomads Remote
PassportCard Nomads Remote is like no other travel insurance plan.
You get premium travel insurance coverage plus some extra health insurance benefits. Think of it like a hybrid between travel and health insurance.
But there is one other reason that PassportCard Nomads is among the best…
$0 deductible and no out of pockets examples. Crazy, right?
Here’s how it works:
When you signup for PassportCard Nomads Remote, they will send you a “red debit card”. Got a claim that needs to be paid?
Contact PassportCard while at the doctor/hospital and they will load that red debit card immediately. You swipe the card and walk away.
There is no lengthy claims process to get your money back.
PassportCard Nomads is great for those who want more coverage than your average travel insurance and don’t want the hassle of claims. It really is the most innovative travel insurance company on the market.
Check our complete PassportCard Nomads review to learn more about this awesome insurance plan!
3x Best International Health Insurance For Travel
Want a more comprehensive cover than travel insurance?
These are 3 of the best international health insurance providers that are worth checking out.
Genki World Resident
Genki World Resident is a game changer in the international health insurance market.
It offers long-term health insurance for expats, digital nomads and remote workers who want a high health care standard. You get extensive medical treatment coverage, great preventative care and they even cover tons of sports and activities.
But the best part?
Genki World Resident is one of the most affordable travel health insurance plans you will find. And they offer incredible benefits you won’t find with other providers.
You can even level up your international health care with World Resident “Premium” which offers even more benefits.
It really is incredible to see what they have been able to pack into this insurance plan.
Cigna Global is a U.S. based insurance company.
That means you can be confident you are getting the U.S. standard of customer service and support.
The one thing that stands out for Cigna is flexibility. When you get a quote, you will have a ton of options to customize your plan-
- They offer 3 levels of coverage (silver, gold, platinum)
- Choose your deductible ($0 is an option)
- Select the area of coverage, including WorldWide
- Select payment periods from monthly, quarterly or annually
- Choose your percentage of cost share (0% is an option)
Why is this all great?
Cigna offers different levels of health insurance coverage for different budgets. You also only pay for what you need.
You get a quote from Cigna in less than 2 minutes and be online in less than 10 minutes. That’s pretty good!
PassportCard Nomads Comfort
PassportCard Nomads Comfort is the most premium level of health insurance that PassportCard offers.
And it’s pretty impressive!
Just like all PassportCard insurance plans, PassportCard Nomads Comfort comes with the staple “red debit card”. That means no out-of-pocket payments for medical expenses and no claims.
Depending on your age, getting $0 deductibles at no extra cost is also possible. Cool, right?
PassportCard Nomads Comfort insurance plan has a big annual claims limit to ensure you get the health coverage you need for peace of mind. Adding extras like baggage and personal item coverage is also possible.
Now that’s real international travel health insurance!
You can also learn more about the comfort plan in our PassportCard Nomads review.
Wrapping It Up
Now you know the difference between health insurance vs travel insurance.
Make sure you spend the time to decide which one is right for you. In some cases, you might decide you need both and that is fine!
The next big decision is deciding where you want to buy your insurance.
Do your research and choose a provider that suits your needs. Everyone is different, so get the right insurance provider for you.
That way you can enjoy your travel adventures with peace of mind!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need travel insurance if I have health insurance?
Yes, you might need travel insurance even if you have health insurance. Unless you have international health insurance, it’s likely that your health insurance provider doesn’t cover you outside of your home country. In that case, you will need travel insurance to cover your trip.
Does travel insurance include health insurance?
No, travel insurance and health insurance are different. Travel insurance only covers you for emergency medical treatment and travel expenses such as lost baggage and trip cancellation insurance. Health insurance is more comprehensive and usually covers routine and preventative medical attention and care.
What’s the best international health insurance for travel?
The current best international health insurance for travel includes:
- Genki World Resident
- Cigna Global
- PassportCard Nomads
- SafeteyWing Remote
- Insured Nomads
- Allianz Global Assistance
- IMG Global
The information provided above is only a summary of the cover offered by some travel insurance and health insurance companies. It is important to understand that this summary is not a recommendation to purchase. All coverage, including benefit limits, mentioned varies depending on a person’s country of residence and is subject to terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions. Ensure you always refer to the policy wording, which can be found at each provider’s site.