Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Travel Topics > Travel Tips & Trip Ideas
Reload this Page >

Do you get international medical insurance when you travel?

Do you get international medical insurance when you travel?

Jul 16th, 2019, 07:40 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,498
I along with the vast majority of British travellers cannot imagine travelling without not just medical, but comprehensive travel insurance. A recent survey showed that 21% of traveller were leaving home WITHOUT adequate travel insurance - a figure considered way to high by the government and travel industry. Comprehensive travel insurance covering everything from death and serious illness to flight delays, cancellation and lost baggage is inexpensive. I pay c 200 p.a. For an annual policy covering my wife and myself for as many trips of up to 90 day at a time as we take in a year. The cost for say a two week trip to Europe can be as low as 20. Why would anyone not take out cover.

As with all insurance contracts, travel insurance policies are governed by the doctrine of "Uberimma Fides" - utmost good faith, so it is essential that all existing medical conditions are disclosed to the underwriters who may choose to accept the risk, sometimes at the cost of an additional premium.

The premise in most European countries seems to be to automatically insure travel which contrasts with the American attitude which very much seems to be the opposite and I have never understood why this should be the case. I know that a far smaller percentage of Americans travel internationally that is the case with most other countries perhaps that is the reason why the travel insurance industry has not developed in the same way.

Alternatively maybe it is down to the fact that medical insurance is far more widespread than in most European countries.

It is interesting teh way attitudes to insurance vary the world over. It wast until recently that, after renting vehicles over many years and to travel around New Zealand that I found out that motor vehicle insurance is apparently not compulsory and the majority of drivers do have cover. Yikes!
crellston is offline  
Jul 16th, 2019, 08:29 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,132
Well, one reason is that the insurance is more expensive in the US. And medical and medical evacuation is very much more expensive as you get older.

I just asked insuremytrip.com how much it would cost to cover a two week trip to France costing 5,000 USD for a 72 year old traveler. I haven't checked the details, but the cheapest of their recommended policies was over 300 USD.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 16th, 2019, 08:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,365
I suspect that many Americans don't think about the possibility of dying abroad, or what that would mean for one's survivors.
And than many don't know about options for medical evacuation or hospital-of-one's-choice coverage.
I could be wrong!
kja is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 04:46 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,163
Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Well, one reason is that the insurance is more expensive in the US. And medical and medical evacuation is very much more expensive as you get older.

I just asked insuremytrip.com how much it would cost to cover a two week trip to France costing 5,000 USD for a 72 year old traveler. I haven't checked the details, but the cheapest of their recommended policies was over 300 USD.
In my opinion, $300 (6%) seems like a very reasonable cost to insure an expensive trip when you're over 65 and not covered by your Medicare abroad. That's a reasonable trade-off for the peace of mind of knowing you won't be bankrupted if something goes wrong. I'm much younger but still not young, and I've been fully insuring all my international trips since my mother head a heart attack while I was in Italy for 2 weeks. Now that I'm older, I do it for me. If you feel comfortable potentially losing $5000 and then having to cover medical and evacuation costs, then the $300 isn't well-spent, but for me it is.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 05:09 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,498
"Well, one reason is that the insurance is more expensive in the US." Not necessarily. The actuaries will calculate the rates based on numerous factor, age being the primary one, the area of travel being the other major factor. Healthcare costs are almost certainly to be significantly lower in France than the USA. I ran a quote with one provider which came up with a cost of 127 for a U.K. citizen travelling to Europe and 348 for the USA . This presumably reflects the much higher cost of treatment in the US and to a lesser extent the slightly higher costs of repatriation. Another factor is of course the profit margins added by the insurers.
I would presume that with the much higher percentage of European travellers taking insurance compared with the US, that European based insurers can offer policies at much lower margins.

As with all insurance, if you don’t need to claim, it was a waste of money. If you do need to claim then it was invaluable
crellston is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,132
I would never recommend traveling without medical and medical evacuation insurance, which I buy from https://www.sevencorners.com/#start

However, unless I am taking a tour (rarely) or a cruise (even more rarely) I self-insure for cancellation and interruption. I do not have to worry about aged or sick relatives, and aside from airline tickets, usually "bought" on FF miles, almost all my arrangements can be canceled with no penalty, plus I am usually traveling for several weeks or months..

I reran the insuremytrip calculation, this time with a 45 year old. The cheapest recommended policy ("economy") was 154.50 USD. about half the cost for 72 year old, but still way higher than crellston's 20 GBP. Adding two weeks to the trip added 30 USD to the cost.

Last edited by thursdaysd; Jul 17th, 2019 at 05:40 AM.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,478
I'm not aware of annual travel insurance policies offered in the US. I'd love to have one of those, so please share if you know who offers these.

I'm an American who has been traveling internationally for some 30 odd years and never bought travel insurance until recently.

For a long time I had insurance elsewhere - my expatriate medical insurance covered me anywhere in the world, so there was no need to buy it (nor did I ever use it, other than for the odd visit to a doctor for a throat infection or some such).

I've always had coverage under my US credit card for car rentals in most countries, so I can count on one hand the times I've purchased car rental insurance. Even the excess (deductible) is often covered. In many countries the CDW is already included in the rental price. Liability laws vary from country to country, state to state (in the US the state minimum is often included in the rental as well). We just do our research and plan accordingly.

Our biggest concern when visiting the land of the litigious when we lived outside of the US was liability insurance - so we purchased a personal umbrella policy with vehicle liability coverage.

When I book a hotel I closely study their cancellation policies. I make note of cancellation deadlines.

We have some coverage under our US credit card for airline cancellations too, but recently we've also taken the policy offered by the airline.

So for us, purchasing travel policies wasn't really necessary as we had coverage elsewhere.

I have however, purchased a travel insurance policy with medical coverage for an upcoming trip in December because I'm taking my niece and there are a few unknowns this time around. Peace of mind and all that.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,365
@ Melnq: Maybe I didn't read your post carefully enough, but just in case (and not to be morbid, but)....
  • As I understand it, family members in the U.S. are not likely to be required to retrieve the remains of those who die abroad, but of course, some family members believe that they should do so for personal, religious, or other reasons -- and I've known people who have wiped out their savings accounts and deferred their retirements to finance retrieval of a loved one's remains. I don't want to impose that question, or that burden, on anyone I love, and so I always get repatriation coverage.
  • I don't know about your policies, but my regular health insurance will cover some treatment abroad, but not the things typically covered by many medical evacuation policies. I look for policies that cover returning me to a hospital of my choice (If I'm laid up for a long period of time, I want to be be near family and friends and in a place where people speak English!). Most such policies also cover the cost of someone to accompany me during the transit, and they sometimes pay for a loved one to visit me before I'm sufficiently stable, medically, to be transported.
Just some options that are available through trip insurance.

Last edited by kja; Jul 17th, 2019 at 06:33 PM.
kja is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 07:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,063
As some have implied, many US residents have partial coverage through their primary health insurance or credit cards. Even partial medevac insurance. You have to read your own policy, though.

I don't feel like it's really worthwhile to purchase expensive trip cancellation policies all the time. I tend not to buy package deals, but have done a few times which is when I bought trip cancellation/evacuation type policies from World Nomads.
mlgb is offline  
Jul 17th, 2019, 07:51 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,475
Australian Medicare (our government health care ) and private health insurers do not cover outside of Australia .
My recent insurance quote for travel to US was $3800 was $5100 or $3800 for lesser cover .
I will now only travel to counties that our government has reciprocal health cover with eg UK, Malta,Italy and 4 others but I stil take out travel insurance to cover other matters .

Crellston - 3rd party insurance for vehicles is compulsory in New Zealand as it is in Australia . It's paid when you register your car .
Comprehensive is not .
northie is offline  
Jul 18th, 2019, 07:23 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,498
Thanks for the clarification northie but, unless I am misreading, according to NZ AA it seems that the 3rd part insurance included covers only personal injury to 3rd parties not damage to their property. https://www.aa.co.nz/insurance/car-a...rty-insurance/

When renting vehicles in NZ the companies have always stressed that Kiwis are not insured - probably eat another way to persuade customers to buy their over inflated excess cover! Lost on me as I have a stand alone excess policy.
crellston is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 3
My sister made the mistake of getting insurance after she left the country and she ended up getting injured during her ski trip... ofcourse the insurance did not cover her. Make sure you get insurance before you leave your house!
budgettraveller19 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 805
My wayward cousin's adult son once called my dad long-distance from some far-off nation, claiming that he'd just had an accident with his rental car. He went on to request $ from my father because he'd not gotten any insurance for the vehicle (Eedyawt---editor). Dad wisely refused to send cash and instead offered, a food gift card, I think it was. The caller turned that latter offer down. I have never met my cousin's son. We'll never know whether it was a scam or what was really going on.
I am done. The grifter relative.
zebec is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 03:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,475
crellston - oops I see what you are saying . I'm shocked at the lack of cover . Personal injury is covered nationally by car registration and petrol taxes - we have the same in Australia - no costs at all to collision victims whatever.
northie is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 02:29 AM
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 2
Some banks do provide travel insurance actually. But this is really worth putting into consideration. I just got my visa required document hoping to explore some parts of Africa.
stevewrites is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 04:58 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,491
The main reason we purchase travel insurance for international trips is for medical evacuation; this is not covered by our Medicare Plus policy nor any credit card we have. We also just returned from the Bahamas with our children and grandchildren; we purchased it months ago to cover any and all money we'd have lost due to cancelling (our granddaughters are in alot of sports, therefore, potential injuries), our age-related health, work-issues of the guys, etc. Our policy covering 12 of us cost $700 w AIG -- half of that total for DH and myself, the other half to cover the 10 of them (being substantially younger = much cheaper). Wouldnt consider travelling without it! It's called peace of mind (if not wallet)!
aliced is offline  
Jul 27th, 2019, 07:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,220
JES28--We always do for any trips abroad. Our health insurance here does not cover us outside of the US. We too go through USAA and had to use it one time for cancellation and they were great to work with. I just would not leave the US without medical coverage.
mms is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Mar 31st, 2008 06:19 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:41 PM.