No one expects to become sick or injured while they’re traveling internationally, just like no one expects to get into a car accident.
The only difference is that most — 87.4%1 — of motorists purchase auto insurance to protect their health and investment just in case, while only a sliver of the population purchases international medical insurance.
Why? This article explains the top five reasons people don’t buy insurance when traveling, working or living internationally.
Five Reasons People Don't Buy International Medical Insurance
“I‘m already covered through my domestic insurance/other insurance plan.”
Not necessarily. Most people assume they will be covered by their standard medical plan or Medicare, but that isn’t always the case.
While traditional plans may offer adequate domestic coverage, they aren’t designed for international travel. In fact, many offer very little coverage outside of your home country, and none of the emergency assistance benefits you would require when facing an emergency abroad.
Without even realizing it, you may be putting your health and finances at risk while traveling without the proper coverage.
But you’re not alone. According to a survey2 by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA), about 47% of Americans age 18 and older assume they’re covered for trip cancellation, medical care or lost/stolen baggage through:
- Personal or group health insurance (27%)
- Insurance benefits provided by their credit card (18%)
- The airline, cruise line or tour operator (15%)
- Homeowner’s insurance (8%)
When it comes to credit card travel insurance, many plans don’t provide any protection or reimbursement in the event you are injured or sick while on your trip. Most plans also don’t provide emergency medical or dental benefits, including emergency medical evacuation coverage.
So what does cover you? There are three types of international medical insurance plans — travel insurance, travel medical insurance and long-term international medical insurance — which are too often misunderstood, as highlighted by the next reason people don’t purchase these plans.
“All insurance plans are the same.”
Every international medical insurance plan is unique, with each serving a specific purpose or type of traveler
As previously mentioned, there are three types of international medical insurance: travel insurance, travel medical
insurance and long-term international medical insurance. Here’s an overview of each type, and when they’re a priority for you:
- Travel Insurance: Designed to protect your trip investment and provide some emergency medical and dental benefits. Along with cover for baggage and travel delay, missed connections, change fees and more, travel insurance protects against many trip cancellation and interruption perils. Depending on your plan, covered trip cancellation and interruption perils could include:
- Sickness, injury or death
- Documented theft of a passport or visa
- Documented traffic accident
- Unannounced strike
- Mechanical breakdown of the common carrier
- Bankruptcy or default of travel provider
- Natural disasters or mandatory evacuations
- Active military service
- Documented terrorist incident
- Travel Medical Insurance:
Designed to provide temporary medical insurance while you’re going
on a short-term international trip or if you take multiple international trips throughout the year.
The cover is ideal for international vacationers, students studying abroad, relatives visiting
from overseas, groups of executives and more. Travel medical insurance plans provide you a wide range of cover:
- Emergency medical and dental, including emergency medical evacuation
- Political evacuation, natural disaster and terrorism
- Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D)
- Repatriation of mortal remains or cremation/burial
- Emergency transportation
- Physician visits
- Diagnostic procedures
- Prescription medication
- Long-Term International Medical Insurance: Designed to provide long-term, continuous worldwide
medical coverage for yourself and your family while you’re living or working outside of your home country for one year or longer.
One of the chief advantages of this type of insurance plan is that you can seek medical care anywhere in the world.
Since it’s designed to provide long-term, worldwide medical coverage, it allows you to receive and continue treatment
— including that for chronic conditions — wherever you choose. Along with the benefits that travel medical plans offer, some long-term plans also cover:
- Child and adult wellness benefits
- Physical therapy
- Mental and nervous benefits
- Complimentary medicine, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy and more
- Vision and non-emergency dental benefits can also be added to some plans.
International medical insurance sounds like a no-brainer, right? It protects your health
and investment, all the while providing you and your family peace of mind. Still, there
are people who come up with reasons not to purchase the sometimes lifesaving coverage. Here’s another reason:
“I’m young and healthy — nothing will happen to me.”
Anything could happen while you’re away from home — even if you’re young and healthy.
For example, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people age 15 to 29 years old, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)3.
But you don’t necessarily have to be driving to be at risk. In fact, the WHO reports that half of those dying on the world’s roads are “vulnerable road users” — including pedestrians and cyclists.
In addition to road accidents, those who are traveling to, working or residing in foreign countries face many other dangers. One U.S. database highlights this fact:
A quick search indicates that between October 2002 and December 2015, more than 11,000 U.S. citizens
died in a foreign country from “non-natural” causes, according to the U.S. Department of State4.
(To put it into perspective, that’s more than two people each day.) These non-natural causes of death included drowning, homicide, automobile accident, terrorist action, air accident, natural disaster and more.
Regardless of whether you’re a U.S. citizen, it’s clear that you face many risks when traveling, working or living internationally. We would all like to think that we’re impervious to danger, but being realistic is vital when it comes to protecting your health.
The best way to ensure you’re protected from the unexpected while you’re away from home is to purchase international medical insurance.
“I’ve purchased international medical insurance for years and I’ve never used it.”
Just because you haven’t used your insurance doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable or that you don’t need it. No one can predict the future, and accidents and emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere.
With insurance, you’ll spend less time worrying about the “what ifs” and more time focusing on what matters most: the memories you create during your trip or stay.
Let’s take travel insurance, for example. A survey5 conducted by the UStiA shows that the top three reasons people
purchase travel insurance are: peace of mind, protection against the unexpected and concern over losing the financial investment in a trip.
International Medical Group® (IMG®) clients feel the same:
- “We didn't have to use our insurance (thank goodness!), but I felt comfortable knowing that if anything should happen, we were covered. That was worth every cent!” – Edward T.
- “Fortunately I didn’t have to use it, but it did offer me peace of mind. I felt this added a lot of value!” – Jonathan B.
- “Peace of mind obtained in a simple manner at a reasonable cost. That is what insurance is and ought to be.” – Ronald C.
The conclusion here? Purchase international medical insurance and peace of mind will follow.
“It costs too much.”
The coverage you need might not be as expensive as you think, especially if you consider what could happen if you don’t purchase an international medical insurance policy.
One IMG client would have learned this the hard way, had she not purchased the proper coverage. The client, a missionary who was living in Quintana Roo, Mexico, gave birth to a premature baby who needed ongoing care in order to survive.
The hospital, whose care was costly, demanded payment from the client, and threatened to discontinue treatment and send the baby to a different facility. IMG intervened and paid the hospital directly in order to prevent the baby’s care from being interrupted.
Instead of worrying about mounting expenses, the client was able to focus on what was really important: her son’s well-being.
Imagine if you were in this situation. Would you have the money to pay the bill, or the support you needed to ensure your baby had the proper care?
Depending on your needs, international medical insurance plans can be as comprehensive or as basic as you desire — and can meet any budget type. You can purchase some travel medical plans for as little as $5.
However, if you ask some people, the peace of mind international medical insurance provides is priceless — and far outweighs the additional cost.
If you’re traveling, working or living away from home and want to learn more about international medical insurance, contact IMG today.
If you’re ready to purchase coverage, click here to search for plans based on your needs.
Don’t wait for an accident or emergency while you’re away from home. Get covered today.
1 Insurance Research Council, “Uninsured Motorists, 2014 Edition”