• published on 7/3/2023
  • 5min

What's the Difference between Travel Insurance and International Health Insurance?

Travel insurance and international health insurance are often confused, but they are very different in reality.

What's the Difference between Travel Insurance and International Health Insurance?

Having the correct insurance in place can help protect your wellbeing and save you from significant financial loss. It is vital that you are prepared for your travels overseas, whether you’re going on holiday or relocating to live, work or study.

Let’s have a look at some of the key differences between travel insurance and international health insurance.

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance will be sought for a short-term abroad, usually by holidaymakers looking to safeguard their belongings or get protection from financial loss should things go wrong.

This type of cover often includes access to emergency medical treatment, but the benefits are often limited and don’t include visits to the doctor, specialist appointments or the ability to choose where you are treated or by who.

The aim of emergency medical care is to treat policyholders so they are well enough to return home, where they can transition their treatment to state healthcare or follow other available options, if necessary. You can also get reimbursement for events that are beyond your control, such as flight cancellations and lost luggage.

What is international health insurance?

Unlike travel insurance, international health insurance is designed to protect your health and wellbeing. This might be a preferred option for expats who are retiring abroad or relocating for work, or for students studying in a different country.

It can cover you for a variety of medical scenarios, from visits to the GP and fast access to a diagnosis and eligible treatment, to maternity care and emergency medical and non-medical evacuations. Patients also have the option to choose where and by who they will be treated.

What type of insurance should you go for?

If you are planning a short break in the sun, then travel insurance might be the best option for you. You never know when an unexpected event could interrupt your plans - some of the issues can even occur before you even take off, such as delayed or cancelled flights.

In May 2022, European airports anticipated an increase of 66% in flight delays, causing more problems for holiday goers. [1] This emphasises that if you haven’t taken out the proper protection, then you could stand to lose money.

Though events like flight disruptions are unpredictable, you could receive travel reimbursements if you already have insurance in place.

Taking out travel insurance also means your health can be safeguarded if an accident occurs and you need limited, emergency medical treatment. If you don’t have this in place, you could be footed with a hospital bill that you might not be able to afford.

If you’re planning to move overseas for a new adventure or work, international health insurance cover can give you peace of mind that you are protected if you fall ill.

It could allow you quick access to eligible medical treatment, and if the care is not available locally, you can be transferred to another location to receive this. To obtain a visa for certain countries, you may also need to have health insurance in place.

At APRIL International, in addition to high-value cover for medical treatment, we offer access to remote GP consultations 24/7, wherever you are in the world. This is particularly beneficial for expats who live in rural areas and don’t have access to a close medical facility, and can seek medical advice from their own home.

What are the most common exclusions?

There are some things that insurance policies don’t cover. Here are some to keep in mind when considering international private medical insurance or travel insurance.

Travel insurance

There are a few circumstances where you might not get cover with travel insurance, including:

Not keeping an eye on your luggage

If your luggage is stolen while you’re not paying attention to it, this could be a reason for you to not be covered under your insurance policy.

Make sure that you monitor your luggage at all times, as it could ruin your holiday if you don’t have the belongings you need to enjoy it. It can be very easy to misplace your possessions when you don’t look after them properly, so be mindful of this when travelling.

Sporting activities

You will sometimes find that insurance doesn’t provide protection for activities such as water sports. In this instance, you may have to add specific cover.

Accidents from dangerous sports can be life-changing and very serious, so make sure you add this protection if you require it.

International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI)

There are some common exclusions with healthcare insurance that it is useful to be aware of, like:

Pre-existing medical conditions

International health insurance is designed to provide you with medical cover for new conditions, which is why anything existing is not usually covered. In some cases, you may be able to get cover for this, but it depends on the insurer.

Cosmetic surgery

Opting for elective cosmetic surgery is not something that will normally be provided for under an international health insurance plan. However, you could have cover for this if it is for reconstructive surgery for an illness, or if you require it as a result of an accident.

To find out more about our long-term international private medical insurance plans, click here.