Why You Need to Get Travel Medical and Evacuation Insurance While Abroad

September 18, 2018 | Stefanie DiMartino

If you are traveling outside of the US, travel medical/evacuation insurance should be one of the first things you add to your list before you embark on your journey.

It is important to make sure that you are covered under a health plan while abroad because you never know what may happen. Different places have different dangers, and many unforeseen accidents can happen like getting hit by a car or catching a local illness.

Thunder Hole, Maine. Photo by: Sarah Funk

Other than dire medical emergencies, if something does happen to you which might require a doctor’s attention abroad, your current medical plan likely won’t cover you. Travel medical and evacuation insurance is your solution as it pays for the gaps in your current health plan coverage for any trips to the doctor’s or hospital for you and your family. Plus, sometimes even dental services, emergency medical transportation, and more.


It is important to understand that travel medical and evacuation insurance and travel or trip cancellation insurance is very different. Travel medical insurance covers many of the same things your primary health insurance covers in the US, but just in another country. Trip cancellation and travel insurance just protect the cost of your upcoming vacation. The latter can be great additional coverage if you’re worried about lost bags, cancellations, and flight issues. But, it won’t give you piece of mind when it comes to the most important thing—your health.

Sand Point, Maine. Photo by: Sarah Funk


 In addition to covering visits to the doctor’s office and hospital while overseas, travel medical and evacuation insurance can also cover:

·       Emergency reunion (flying a loved one to you after a health scare)

·       Return of children (fly a minor home if you can’t travel with them)

·       Medical repatriation (covers costs of returning home if you can’t travel on the original schedule)

Some travel medical insurance providers also cover emergency medical evacuation costs. This is an important point of coverage because it can be overwhelming to pay for a hundred-thousand-dollar air ambulance. Emergency medical evacuation insurance covers the cost of any type of transportation (ground or air) that will get you to the nearest hospital.

If you are traveling in a remote part of the world, and you need to be evacuated, the expensive part comes into play when you’re in an area that doesn’t have a medical center nearby. You may have to be flown hundreds to thousands of miles for a medical emergency, which is generally covered with emergency evacuation insurance.

Lake Tahoe, California. Photo by: Sarah Funk


One thing to keep in mind is that many plans won’t cover medical costs resulting from acts of war, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, or riots, but you likely won’t have to worry about that.

Travel medical insurance covers unforeseen circumstances, and pre-existing conditions usually aren’t included in this coverage. A pre-existing condition is an illness or condition the traveler has had in the past six months to three years before purchasing the policy. So, if you have a pre-existing condition, do your research to find a plan that will cover you in case of a flare up overseas.

Thunder Hole, Maine. Photo by: Sarah Funk


Like health coverage in the US, your travel medical insurance costs depend on the level of coverage you want. In general, it can cost anywhere from $15 to more than $600 a week for a policy. Some major pricing factors include:

·       Age

·       The extent of the plan

·       Pre-existing conditions

·       Participating in hazardous sports or activities

Will you be participating in any dangerous activities while abroad such as rock climbing, parachuting, skiing or snowboarding? If so, you will likely have to pay more because of the nature of your activities and its increased risk of injury. It is recommended that you don’t lie and tell the insurance company about your activities beforehand, or risk not receiving coverage for your claim if something does happen to you.

Sunrise on a plane. Photo by: Sarah Funk


After you feel like you’ve found the right plan, do some final research before signing on the dotted line. Look at the plan’s exclusions, if treatments need to be pre-authorized, deductibles, if you need to pay at the time of the service, and the paperwork you’ll need to bring home with you.

Travel should be relaxing and enjoyable, not full of stress. Give yourself a safety net that will allow you to feel comfortable trying new things while abroad. No matter where your travels take you, make sure you’re prepared with travel medical insurance before you leave. From Rio to Tokyo, if a medical emergency happens, you’ll be thankful for the coverage.

Sand Beach, Maine. Photo by: Sarah Funk

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