Why You Need Travel Medical Insurance Now More than Ever

The number of international tourists has increased substantially in 2017. Before you take the plunge and head to a new country, are you aware of the obstacles you may face?

Nov 8, 2017, 09:57 AM

In the first half of 2017, destinations across the globe welcomed more than 598 million international tourists, a 6% increase — or some 36 million more travelers — compared to the first half of 2016, the World Tourism Organization reports. This increase represents the strongest half-year recorded since 2010.

With international travel on the rise, it has never been more important to have travel medical insurance. Here’s why:

  • Travelers can’t control the uncontrollable.
  • Coverage is affordable, especially when compared to the medical costs international travelers could face.
  • Many vacationers mistakenly think they already have international health coverage.

International Vacationers Face Uncertainties While Traveling

Terror attacks, political unrest and unexpected medical emergencies remind travelers that they can’t control the uncontrollable.

Various events worldwide have greatly impacted the perceived safety of international travelers. Nearly 50% of people now have “serious safety and security concerns, especially about certain countries, and about two-thirds of them plan to only travel to international destinations they perceive as being safe,” according to the 2016-17 ITB World Travel Trends Report.

Despite this perception, threats of injuries and illnesses remain a more common risk to international travelers.

Causes of illnesses and other health risks vary by destination, itinerary, duration of journey and medical history of the traveler, but common causes of injuries can be more easily summarized. Road traffic collisions are the most frequent cause of injury and death among travelers, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports on its website.

Considering the risks, International Medical Group® (IMG®) advises international travelers to purchase a travel medical insurance plan to protect their health. While a travel medical plan can’t prevent emergencies, it can help travelers mitigate the ensuing costs, navigate care in a foreign country and access the expert assistance they may need when facing a medical emergency abroad.

With a travel medical insurance plan, they can receive the following benefits:

  • Emergency medical and dental, including emergency medical evacuation
  • Political evacuation, natural disaster and terrorism
  • Emergency transportation
  • Physician visits
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Prescription medication
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D)
  • Repatriation of mortal remains or cremation/burial

This is a summary of a selection of plan benefits offered only as an illustration and does not supersede in any way the Certificate of Insurance and governing policy documents (together the “Insurance Contract”). The Insurance Contract is the only source of the actual benefits provided.

Coverage Costs Less Than Travelers May Think

For vacationers and holidaymakers, travel medical insurance offers an affordable option for coverage. At IMG, these plans can cost less than $3 per day (based on an average plan).

In many cases, travel medical insurance is a nominal expense, especially when compared to the costs international travelers may face without it. For example, an emergency medical evacuation could cost between $20,000 and $170,000 USD, depending on how far the person needs to be transported and where they’re located.

Navigating international medical care, itself, can also be problematic. Unfortunately, news reports have documented problems such as travelers being asked to surrender their passports and provide a monetary deposit prior to the delivery of even the most critical lifesaving care.

Given the costs (and risks) associated with becoming ill or injured while traveling internationally, the added expense of travel medical insurance is well worth a traveler’s investment. 

Travelers Often Misunderstand Coverage Options

Many travelers assume they’re covered by other policies when they travel internationally — but they’re often not.

For instance, they may assume their U.S. health insurance or Medicare will provide international coverage in case of medical emergencies. However, that isn’t always the case. Not all domestic health insurance policies provide international coverage. The plans that do often provide limited benefits — without the emergency assistance benefits travelers may require when facing an emergency outside of the U.S.

Other travelers believe they have adequate international coverage through their credit card company. However, many cards do not provide travelers any protection or reimbursement in the event they become injured or sick while on their trip. Most credit card companies will only provide coverage if the entire trip was booked using the credit card.

These common misconceptions often lead to a false sense of security for travelers. To best protect their health while they’re away from home, travelers should take proper health and safety precautions and research travel medical insurance options to find a plan that’s right for them.

Get the Coverage You Need

Travel medical insurance provides individual, family and group coverage usually for five days up to two years. These plans are designed to protect travelers in the event of an illness or injury when they’re traveling outside of their country of residence.

There are two types of plans: single-trip travel medical and multi-trip travel medical. As their names suggest, the former covers a single trip, while the latter covers multiple short-term trips throughout the year.

The coverage is ideal for international vacationers, students studying abroad, relatives visiting from overseas, groups of executives and others.

If you’re planning an international trip, browse IMG’s travel medical insurance plans to get the coverage you need to protect your health while you’re away from home.

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