International Health Insurance vs Travel Insurance

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International travel, while certainly providing exciting and enriching experiences, also comes with potential risks and uncertainties. As a result, purchasing insurance is a crucial aspect of trip planning.

The above plans and premiums are for AED 1,000,000 Sum insured for 1 Adult of 30 Years for Dubai city.

However, travellers often confuse the two types of insurance - international health insurance and travel insurance - and may purchase one when they actually need the other. This confusion arises due to the similarities in coverage and the overlap in some of their benefits.

International health insurance provides medical coverage and emergency medical evacuation while travelling abroad for an extended period. Travel insurance, on the other hand, covers trip cancellation or interruption, lost luggage, and other non-medical travel-related issues. The consequences of purchasing the wrong type of insurance can be costly and detrimental to your health and well-being.

Understanding What is International Health Insurance

International health insurance is primarily intended for individuals who travel or work abroad for more than 6 months. It gives freedom in terms of the choice of doctors and medical facilities, allowing expats to get treatment anywhere within their geographical coverage. This type of insurance covers both emergency and regular healthcare.

International health insurance can be necessary if you're moving abroad or if you have a residence there and spend a lot of time there. When you need routine medical treatment or a medical emergency in a place where the healthcare system is unfamiliar to you and you do not know the local language, having health insurance for international coverage can ensure that you receive the care that you require on time.

Individuals belonging to the following categories can think about purchasing foreign health insurance -

  • Families and individuals going abroad 
  • Retirees who want to live abroad
  • People who relocate abroad for an extended period of time in order to pursue higher education, volunteer, or work
  • People who frequently make trips for work
  • International businesses

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Benefits of International Health Insurance

One of the major advantages of obtaining worldwide healthcare coverage is that it guarantees you the necessary medical care that you may require during an emergency medical situation or even during a regular physical. Most expats reside in a nation that is entirely distinct from their own, due to which they may not be familiar with the healthcare system in the expat community, and some may not even be able to communicate in that language.

You can move more easily throughout the healthcare system if you have this coverage. Furthermore, the insurance policy that you choose will affect your benefits. Hospital stays, regular exams, coverage for some chronic ailments, pre-existing conditions, and, of course, the choice of your own doctors are all included.

You can also add coverage for other services like maternity care, dental care, and outpatient therapy to customise your insurance plan to meet your unique demands. It guarantees that you have the appropriate level of coverage for both yourself and your family.

Additionally, as an expat, since you effectively forgo healthcare in the nation of citizenship, you would certainly require international healthcare with a health programme having a worldwide scope. With an overseas health plan, you can avail of healthcare worldwide and have the insurer cover your expenses.

Here are the reasons to opt for an international health insurance plan -

  • Multi-country Coverage - For people who frequently relocate from one nation to another, international health insurance is extremely beneficial. You can use the insurance plan in several nations, which is one major advantage of having this coverage.
  • A Larger Coverage Scope - International health insurance offers a higher degree of coverage for expats than domestic health insurance or travel insurance. The ideal plan would encompass both evacuation and return - this degree of coverage is crucial, particularly for expats moving to a nation with few healthcare facilities. In the event of a medical emergency, individuals will be transported to a nation that can offer the required medical care.
  • Helps You Avoid Language Barriers - International health insurance companies offer assistance including multilingual alternatives, assistance with policy documentation, and a helpline. This is pretty useful if you need someone to converse with hospital staff but cannot understand their language.

An Overview of Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is intended for brief vacations, generally lasting only a few weeks or months. Only travel-related problems are covered by travel insurance, such as trip cancellations or early termination, loss of baggage and other personal items, missing transportation, and delayed departure.

Most crucially, the medical coverage of travel insurance plans is typically restricted to urgent, short-term care within the boundaries of your designated travel destination, which is adequate to get you sufficiently healthy to go home and finish your treatment there. Typically, you will not have access to private hospitals and will be required to use the community's public hospitals.

The purpose of travel insurance is not to pay for ongoing medical care while you are travelling. Travel insurance is for individuals who are travelling abroad for shorter durations, such as for -

  • Family or couple vacations
  • Solo or group vacations
  • Trips and expeditions
  • Flying to see family and friends
  • Travel with compassion professional obligations (which may be protected by company health insurance, which is distinct from private travel insurance)

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What Does a Travel Insurance Cover?

Your travel insurance coverage may be affected by a number of variables, including -

  • Where you are going and how old you are
  • The nature of your travel
  • Whether you are doing a trip with others or going solo

Typically, travel insurance provides coverage for - 

  • Curtailments and cancellations
  • Transport missed or delayed
  • Urgent medical needs
  • Items like luggage and electronics that are lost or stolen
  • The expense of legal liability


International Health Insurance vs Travel Insurance: An Overview

The main distinction between travel insurance and international health insurance is pretty straightforward.

You need travel insurance, which covers medical crises and other travel delays, if you are going overseas for a short journey like a business trip or a vacation that does not last longer than six months.  When moving overseas for a job, school, retirement, and so on, and planning to spend most of your time abroad, however, you should purchase international health insurance. Long-term international health insurance does not cover trip cancellations but does cover the majority of medical expenses you incur while travelling.

The table below illustrates the major difference between international health insurance and travel insurance:

Travel Insurance International Health Insurance
Health insurance only covers emergencies and is an add-on for travel insurance. It is entirely a health-related plan.      
Customer support may not have local knowledge and does not specialise in health. Truly worldwide customer service - includes representatives that are aware of the assistance that you require to schedule treatment abroad from home.
Restricted health support facilities as this is not the primary emphasis of insurance Includes additional health support, like a service for a second medical opinion, as standard
The plan covers you regardless of the purpose of your trip. If it is personal coverage, an international health insurance plan may not cover vacations; if it is company coverage, it might. 
Only intended to be used in emergencies - you will need to receive regular care at home Covers a lot more than just the most basic forms of emergency care such as routine checkups and daily care
Has a 'trip' upper limit quite frequently. For instance, a lot of policies only provide coverage for 90 days. Even extended insurance could have a temporal limit on their coverage. Even if you are moving to a new country, it could be configured to safeguard you for the duration of your stay.
If you leave the nation where you purchased the coverage, it may no longer cover you. Additionally, if you go outside the nation you are visiting, you will not be covered under the travel insurance. International health insurance plans cover you anywhere you live in the selected area. As a result, you can get healthcare when abroad or at home.
Existing medical conditions are not considered. As a result, you will not be covered if you have previously had a condition and become unwell while travelling with anything related to it. In some cases, you may receive coverage for pre-existing medical issues after a waiting period. 

International Health Insurance vs Travel Insurance: Which Works Best for You?

As we saw earlier, you should purchase travel insurance if you are travelling on a vacation, a business trip, or a brief journey overseas, or if you will be away from home for less than 6 months. However, if you move overseas for employment, school, to be with your spouse, to retire, or for any other reason, you should purchase international health insurance. This is because for most of the year, you will be residing abroad - if there is a serious medical emergency, you would want to be able to choose to be sent back (evacuated) for treatment to your home nation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What all is not covered under international health insurance plan?

Ans: An international health insurance plan does not cover trip cancellation, trip curtailment, loss of personal belongings, legal liabilities, and more. 

Q2. What all is not covered under a travel insurance plan?

Ans: A travel insurance plan does not offer coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, maternity care, mental health care, rehabilitation, cancer treatment, non-emergency dental treatment, and more. 

Q3. Can you avail of both travel insurance and international health insurance plan?

Ans: You should first look into the available add-ons if the included travel insurance plan only partially satisfies your requirements. It makes sense to obtain health insurance if you still want further protection. You can shop around and purchase travel insurance online.

Q4. What type of insurance should you go for?

Ans: Travel insurance can provide you with the protection that you need if all you have planned is a week in the rays of the sun. However, international health insurance will give you peace of mind that you'll be protected should you need access to healthcare if you intend to spend a longer amount of time abroad, whether for a job, to reside, or simply for a new experience.

With international health insurance, you can have access to multilingual helplines, immediate medical reports, and an expert team available 24/7 to assist in each step, whether you are looking for a local doctor, an opinion on a specific treatment, or health tricks on how to stay healthy while travelling.

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