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Travel Insurance Vs International Health Insurance: What’s the Difference?

Updated on October 14, 2019

Whether you’re off on a relaxing holiday or you’re moving abroad for a longer period of time it’s important that you make arrangements as to how you will be looked after if you require emergency medical attention or treatment whilst abroad.

When it comes to protecting yourself when travelling or moving abroad you will want to purchase either travel insurance or international health insurance. You may have heard of these terms before but the difference between the two can cause confusion.

Here we highlight the difference between the two and hope to help you understand which one is applicable to you whilst emphasizing the importance of both.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is designed for covering you for holidays and short trips abroad. Its purpose is to offer protection if you require emergency treatment whilst you are in another country for a short period of time.

Usually travel insurance includes cover for other travel related issues as well such as cancellations, loss of luggage and loss of personal belongings depending on what type of policy you purchase. However, policies often come with limitations that many people are unaware of.

When it comes to medical cover, standard travel insurance usually only covers you for short term emergency medical treatment enough to get you well enough to return to your home country. Once you return home you are no longer covered by your travel insurance and if your treatment needs to continue this will no longer be covered.

International Health Insurance

International Health Insurance, on the other hand, aims to cover those living or working abroad for an extended amount of time. It covers both emergency and routine treatment and gives expats the flexibility to choose where they receive treatment.

International health insurance is required when you are relocating to a different country or if you have a home overseas that you visit regularly and want to be covered by comprehensive medical insurance. This will ensure that you get the medical attention you need should you experience a healthcare emergency while abroad.

What is covered by your international healthcare policy can vary depending on who you go with and the plan you choose. But a regular comprehensive international healthcare policy will generally include:

  • Hospital benefits
  • Outpatient & GP benefits
  • Assistance services and special benefits
  • Maternity care
  • Dental care
  • Optical care
  • Preventative care

Most international healthcare plans are designed to be flexible so that they can be tailored to your needs to make sure that you have the right level of cover for yourself and your family if needed.

Comparison

Travel insurance
International health insurance
Covers only health emergencies alongside lost luggage, personal belongings and sometimes cancellation
Solely focused on health
Limited health support services
Extra health support provided as standard
Covers only emergency treatment
Covers everyday care and routine checkups as well as emergency treatment
Often excludes business trips and only provides personal cover
Covers you for every kind of trip
Cover amount is usually limited (check details on your specific policy)
Not usually any restrictions
Covers you only for the short period of time you’re abroad
Can also cover you when in your home country

Here’s a brief comparison table to help you identify the key differences between the two:

Which type of insurance do I need?

If you’ve booked a week or two in the sun to catch some rays and relax then travel insurance should give you the level of cover that you need. Some countries won't let you enter without travel insurance so it's important to check the entry requirements for your destination.

However, if you’re planning on going abroad to live, work or go on an adventure for a much longer period of time then international health insurance will give you access to any healthcare you might need while you’re away, it will also give you peace of mind that you are totally protected.

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