Understanding your travel and health insurance needs can be a bit of a headache, but it's so important to find a suitable product that fulfils your specific travel and health insurance requirements. This is why we revisit this topic each and every year, as the available travel and health insurance products keep evolving as do one's specific requirements.
In this article, we discuss:
The difference between Health Insurance and Travel Insurance (it’s not as clear as what the names suggest!) and what such products may or may not include.
Various factors that you should take into consideration when evaluating your own specific requirements.
Some general misconceptions, what may be hidden in the fine print and a few reminders of the implications of your choices.
This article is relevant to all travelers, whether you are only taking short trips from home or whether you are moving towards, or already living the nomadic lifestyle. You can also listen to our podcast. Episode 24 discussion on the topic. For more information particularly relevant to full-time travellers and nomads, please take a look at our other article Travel Insurance for The Long Term Traveller.
Disclaimer: We do not make any recommendations for you, each and every person’s situation is different and needs to be evaluated as such. This is a discussion about some aspects to take into consideration in order for you to arrive at the best solution for yourself.
1. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEALTH INSURANCE AND TRAVEL INSURANCE
This may seem obvious at first, but it is an important point to clarify upfront for the purpose of further discussions.
A HEALTH INSURANCE Product MAY or MAY NOT include the following cover, depending on how comprehensive the product itself is:
Medical emergency situations and injury due to accidents
Hospitalisation and medical procedures
Day to day medical treatment
Chronic and dread disease treatment
Health check-ups and preventative screenings
Health Insurance may be state or government-provided or it could be a private product that you elect to make use of.
A TRAVEL INSURANCE Product will FIRSTLY AND FOREMOST include:
Emergency medical treatment (and possibly emergency dental) for your travel duration.
This type of Travel insurance product is often provided automatically and at no additional charge by many establishments such as your credit card facility or even a travel agent. It is, however, very often limited to only limited emergency medical treatment for your travel duration and need not actually include any other travel-related risks which you may think are included! This form of cover is also usually limited to a certain maximum travel duration (usually varying from 30 - 90 days) and may only be applicable if your trip is a return trip from and to your home country and the flight tickets have been purchased through the particular establishment. As you can see, there are many limits and requirements to qualify for this cover, but it is usually available at no additional costs should you be aware of the conditions and adhere to them accordingly.
A TRAVEL INSURANCE Product will SECONDLY, include SOME or ALL of the cover mentioned below, depending on how comprehensive the product itself is:
Missed / delayed flights.
Stolen baggage / personal items
Emergency evacuation / repatriation
Personal liability cover
This type of Travel insurance product is usually NOT AUTOMATIC but can often be purchased at an additional premium from the same provider as the basic travel insurance mentioned above. Some premium cards may include this automatically, but this is not the norm. You can also purchase this type of travel insurance from a travel insurance supplier and depending on the actual product and supplier, this form of travel insurance may also be limited to a maximum trip duration, as well as other trip specific conditions such as the trip being a return trip from and to your home country and usually provided that the insurance is purchased before the start of the trip. Depending on the product you choose the limitations of cover as well as excess applicable to claims will vary.
Personal liability cover is one of the things that we often tend to forget about, yet in our opinion, this is one of the most important forms of insurance cover! You may already have some form of personal liability cover through various other insurance products, so just remember to check what you already have and not just forget about this one - it may have a low chance of being required, but the consequences of not having the necessary cover could be devastating.
2. EVALUATE YOUR OWN SITUATION AND REQUIREMENTS
It is important to note that there is no one right product for everyone! Each and every person’s situation will differ, and it is important to thus evaluate your own situation and risks in order to find the most suitable solution for yourself. We revisit our situation, requirements and the available products annually to ensure that our personal health and travel insurance requirements are being met. These are some things which we think should be taken into consideration.
General travel considerations:
The planned duration of your travel.
Is it for a single trip, multiple short trips or ongoing travel?
Is there a defined start and end to each of your trips and is this always your home country?
Is your travel upcoming or are you already on the road?
Consider your travel destinations with regards to the associated travel risks (possible occurrence of natural disasters, high theft risk areas etc.)
Consider your travel destinations with regards to the availability and quality of medical facilities there.
Consider what other products / cover you may already have:
Some credit cards provide automatic travel insurance as well as the option to top up / purchase premium travel cover. If this is available to you, then you may be required to purchase your flights with the specific credit card in order to qualify for the cover.
Certain airlines or travel agencies may provide very limited cover with regards to trip cancellation of lost / damaged checked luggage.
What existing health cover (state or private) do you already have, and will this be valid for your travel period and destination? Certain health cover may only cover short trips and may exclusions of certain destinations.
Consider your Travel Risks
What could possibly go wrong and how much could you stand to lose? This may be in the form of prior bookings.
What is the value of your belongings and what is the associated risk of them getting lost or stolen?
Do you already have personal liability cover that will be valid for your travel period, or do you need to make sure this is part of your travel insurance product?
Consider your Health Risks
What existing health cover do you have, and will it be valid for your travels?
Where will you be travelling to with regards to possibly being exposed to greater health risks (eg malaria) and will there be reliable health care available?
Where would you prefer to be treated should there be an emergency medical situation? Do you expect to be sent home or treated where you are? This may not always be up to you to decide.
What is your age and health risk profile? This may affect your consideration of necessary dread disease cover.
Do you have a personal health savings fund for day-to-day expenses, or do you require comprehensive health cover?
Do you want to find a suitable travel destination without certain health risks such as Yellow Fever, Malaria, Zika Virus and Dengue? Make use of our Where-To-Travel-Next Destination Search Filter Tool to find a suitable destination!
Make sure that you do your homework thoroughly, also ensuring that all information that you consider is up to date.
Don’t make any assumptions about your cover, be sure to clarify everything.
Read and study the policy documentation.
Understand the fine print, even if this means asking questions.
Make sure that your risks are suitably covered!
Consider any possible limitations that may be applicable if you are already travelling or if you don’t have a home base. If this is the case, refer to our article Travel Insurance for The Long Term Traveller.
Consider the repercussions of cancelling your traditional health insurance, as reinstating it at a later stage may be both costly and more complicated due to your age and possible additional pre-existing conditions which may come to light.
Be sure to PURCHASE YOUR TRAVEL COVER WELL IN ADVANCE! It makes sense to do this simultaneously with your travel booking in order to be covered for emergency trip cancellation risks such as breaking a leg before a planned ski holiday.
Although the thought of all these considerations may seem daunting, rest assured that once you understand your risks and have the best-suited cover in place, you will be able to enjoy happy and worry-free travels!
We do not make any recommendations for you, each and every person’s situation is different and needs to be evaluated as such. This is merely a discussion about certain aspects to take into consideration in order for you to arrive at the best solution for yourself. We are not paid to endorse any insurance over another and do not represent World Nomads or SafetyWing. However, we are an affiliate partner for both World Nomads and SafetyWing and we might receive a small fee when you get a quote or sign up for one of their products. This article is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance and we are in no way partial to your choice. You should always consider your individual needs and risk profile - what will work for you may not work for everyone and we do not endorse or recommend any specific provider or product over any other.