Medical Insurance Travel Abroad Advice: Do You Really Need it?

Traveling is not always fun and games. In order to have the best time of your life, you should plan well in advance and take care of the organizational and insurance issues. Whether you are traveling for business purposes, in connection with your studies or for leisure, there are certain steps that you should take to avoid health problems and accidents. Preparing for a trip is not only about choosing the destination, itinerary and packing your bags, it is also about taking necessary steps to avoid complications.

should you buy travel insurance

In addition to standard precautions, if you travel outside North America, Australia, or Europe, you might also require vaccinations or protection against exotic diseases like malaria. If you have no idea how to prepare, you needn’t panic, because not even the most seasoned traveler knows all there is to know about medical insurance for travel abroad. The question remains: Do You Really Need Travel insurance? We would like to share with you general information that you might find helpful before setting out on your new adventure.


1          First Things First: Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance can be extremely useful on certain occasions, or completely useless in others. It is important to weigh out the pros and cons before deciding should you buy travel health insurance or regular insurance or not. As a rule of thumb, travelers’ insurance policies can significantly minimize financial risks of illness, missed flights, lost baggage, theft, travel-company bankruptcies, emergency evacuation, getting your body home, death, accidents etc.

Travel insurance is an added cost, and it all boils down to how many risks you are willing to take. If you are traveling to a country that is known for violence, you might want to at least have some peace of mind. Each traveler’s potential loss is different, and it depends on how much they have paid for the trip in advance, their destination, the financial health of the company or airline that they use, already existing coverage (which include homeowner’s, credit card, and medical insurance) and refundability of the ticket. It’s up to you to understand your options and make a decision.

Tip: Don’t believe travel agents when they encourage you to purchase travel insurance, as they often do it simply to increase the costs of your trip.


2          Travel Insurance Basics: What you Should Know

There are basically five elements included in travel insurance. We are talking about travel interruption insurance (for trip cancellation or interruption), baggage, evacuation, medical and flight insurance. Obviously, you could supplement your policy with additional safety methods, like identity theft or political evacuation or specific insurances for a sporting endeavor, like rock climbing or SCUBA, but in most situations they are not needed. It is very difficult to only purchase one type of insurance. For example, if you are interested to buy travel health insurance (the medical risks of traveling abroad can be covered by your standard health insurance), it might only be possible to purchase it together with baggage or cancellation policies as well.

vaccinations and health insurance

Comprehensive insurance refers to the type of policy which includes the five elements presented above, as well as expenses incurred if the trip is delayed, or if your tour company decides to change the itinerary. This is an excellent insurance to have, because it will take care of all the costs, even if your policies over-lapse with others. For example, if you already have medical insurance separately, your travel insurer will pay for costs without having you worry about out-of-pocket expenses.


Please note that the trip-cancellation coverage works as a reimbursement-only policy. In other words, you will have to prepare for out-of-pocket expenses, and after submitting proper paperwork you will have your money restored. If you are ever in a dire situation, you should contact your insurance company straight away, and ask them how you should proceed.

 travel insurance

3          Vaccinations and Other Personal Safety Concerns

Personal safety is imperative when traveling abroad. If you have the feeling that you might be at risk, the costs of travel insurance don’t really matter. The truth is that many people don’t even bother thinking about it if they leave for a two-day London trip, but if you are planning on a longer one you should definitely research the Foreign Office web pages for recommendations on security risks as well as online travel health insurance information beforehand. Additionally, you should leave information about your travel arrangements, return date, emergency contact information and destination with your department or friends.


Should you purchase travel insurance for a lengthy journey? The answer is yes, if you care about your health and wish to avoid out-of-pocket expenses. We have already mentioned that vaccinations are a must when traveling to Europe, Australia or North America, and we urge you not to ignore them. Fit For Travel is an excellent resource for possible diseases in different regions. In most cases, the need for vaccination depends on the destination, period and the activities you will be doing. So if you are only leaving for a conference or meeting, checking into a high-class accommodation and eating in, the chances of catching a disease are slim. However, if you are exposing yourself to places and people with poor hygiene or sanitation, doctors strongly recommend that you get your vaccinations.


Assuming that you have a special situation, which forces you to expose yourself to natural disaster or population disturbance areas, there are additional counter-measures that you should take. Also, if you need two shots, you will probably have to take them a few weeks apart because immunity takes time to develop. Protection against Malaria can be secured through recommended tablets.


4          What is Already Covered By Home, Credit Card and Medical Insurance?

Many people ask themselves: Do you have to have travel insurance? Sometimes the answer is no, simply because the person in question already has excellent coverage from home, medical and credit card insurance. Medical insurance, for example, can cover possible injuries while traveling abroad, while home insurance will often include personal possessions when away from home (this can protect your baggage). Last but not least, your credit card or current account might already include travel insurance with certain limitations (travel insurance from credit cards are usually very basic).