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6 Times You Need to Purchase Travel Medical Insurance

There are plenty of reasons why you might travel internationally, and it's always in your best interest to consider a travel medical insurance plan. Here are some of the most popular scenarios.

Aug 2, 2017, 13:21 PM

The dream of traveling internationally can become a reality in so many ways. Some people might find an opportunity to study abroad, while others may save for years to take an international excursion. Whatever the case, traveling internationally can be an exhilarating and memorable experience.

However, in the joyful flurry of getting ready for your trip, it can be easy to overlook some of the mandatory requirements for traveling internationally. Whether you’re a seasoned jetsetter or a first-time international traveler, there’s one key aspect you should never overlook: the importance of having international travel medical insurance.

This type of insurance provides individuals, families and groups medical coverage while they’re traveling outside of their country of residence for five days up to two years. It is designed to protect travelers in the event they become sick or injured while away from home.

In some cases, travel medical insurance may even be mandatory for travelers.

Here are six instances in which travel medical insurance is required or strongly encouraged:


  1. International Studies
  2. Studying in another country is an amazing experience that can teach students important life lessons, while providing fond memories for years to come.

    If you get the chance to study internationally, be sure to look into your university’s requirements for international student health insurance – a type of travel medical insurance.

    Some student visas, such as the J1 visa to participate in a cultural or educational exchange program in the United States, also require a certain level of travel medical coverage.


  3. Trips to Certain Countries
  4. Many countries require foreign visitors to have travel medical insurance upon entry. The United States, Schengen countries, Cuba, Russia and Antarctica are all examples of countries that require certain travelers to have medical coverage during their stay. Learn more about these requirements here.


  5. Organized Tours
  6. My husband and I joined a small group tour for our first trip to Africa to maximize the trip and experience. For many of the tour’s activities, including our trip to the Serengeti and hiking with gorillas, we were required to stay with our guided group at all times.

    We were also required to purchase travel medical insurance or travel insurance that provided medical benefits (coverage for personal accident, death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation). The tour company’s booking terms expressly stated that if we did not provide proof of this coverage, we would not be able to join the trip.


  7. Working Holiday Schemes
  8. These types of programs or agreements allow people to temporarily work in and explore other countries. For many working holiday visas, you are required to have comprehensive medical insurance to cover you during your stay.

    My husband and I have lived in New Zealand and Australia on working holiday visas. In each instance, we were responsible for obtaining adequate travel medical insurance to cover medical emergencies during our stay. We made sure to carry copies of our insurance policy and ID cards along with the rest of our important documents.


  9. Mission or Social Good Trips
  10. If you’re considering traveling internationally as part of a mission or social good trip, it’s wise to consider travel medical insurance, especially if you are embarking on a trip to a less developed nation.

    Availability and quality of health care can vary drastically in different parts of the world — and you wouldn’t want to experience a medical emergency without having the appropriate international medical coverage in place. 

    Are you a member of a mission organization? IMG is currently hosting its “Leave Your Mark” essay contest to give two organizations the chance to win $5,000 to put toward their trip. Ask your group administrator to enter here. The deadline to submit an essay is August 25, 2017.


  11. Cruises
  12. A cruise can be a relaxing, fun and social way to travel. When you’re preparing to set sail on the open seas, research your cruise company’s terms and conditions. In many cases, companies strongly encourage that you have travel medical insurance to cover you for any emergencies that may arise on board.

As a long-term traveler, I have encountered many of these scenarios in which travel medical insurance was required. But even when it isn’t mandatory, I always purchase coverage – and I have learned the importance of doing so. (Yes, medical emergencies do happen while you’re traveling!)

Set aside some time, browse plans online and purchase the coverage that’s right for you so you can worry less and experience more on your next trip.

For over a decade, Tiffany Soukup has traveled to more than 35 countries with her husband Chris, hiking into remote jungles, looking for endangered wildlife and seeking adventures. Tiffany has been an IMG member since 2007.

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