International Health Insurance Versus Travel Insurance: What are the Differences?


We often hear from many soon to be expats and or new residents that they have travel insurance and assume once they become a resident in a new country that they will be covered. Conversely many expats who have in-country health insurance assume that they will be covered when travelling internationally.  In this article, we break down the key differences between international health insurance and travel insurance.

Although both products are designed for individuals spending time away from their home country, they serve different purposes. Not taking the time to understand and recognise these differences can result in choosing the wrong type of international medical insurance which could subsequently lead to unexpected medical expenses.

International health insurance is tailored to offer extensive healthcare coverage for individuals who are moving from their home country to become residents in a new country for an extended period and call it their home. A health insurance policy that covers this geographical region then provides them with day to day access to healthcare whilst a resident of this country.  In addition to this, some health insurance plans also include emergency treatment internationally whilst an expat is travelling outside the area of cover (however these are generally limited to life threatening situations, small policy limits and certain conditions will apply).

Travel insurance on the other hand, provides higher coverage for life threatening medical emergency treatments during shorter stays in foreign countries.


What is the Difference between International Health Insurance & Travel Insurance?


International Health insurance is a type of coverage designed for individuals who are living or working abroad as expatriate residents for an extended period of time. 

This insurance plan offers comprehensive healthcare benefits, including emergency and routine medical treatment, and allows policyholders the flexibility to choose their doctor and treatment facility within their region of coverage. 

If you are relocating or spending a significant amount of time in another country, international health insurance may be necessary to ensure that you receive proper medical care in the event of an emergency or routine medical need. 

The benefits of international health insurance plans vary but often include coverage:

  • Hospital stays
  • Routine check-ups
  • Pre-existing and chronic conditions
  • Much more

These plans also offer a choice of medical providers within a network and have certain policy limits. 

Most health insurance plans are modular, allowing you to select the combination of coverage that best meets your specific needs, including options such as out-patient treatment, maternity care, dental care, and repatriation. By tailoring your plan to your individual circumstances or that of your company, you can make the right combination of coverage more financially accessible for you and your family. 

Once you become an international resident, health insurance is essential to ensure that you receive the proper care you need when living abroad. Therefore, it is important to weigh your options and invest in a reliable health insurance plan before embarking on your expat journey to ensure peace of mind and a smooth transition to your new home.

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance provides coverage for individuals during short-term trips or holidays or brief periods of time spent abroad. This type of insurance is intended to offer protection against the following: 

  • Various travel-related issues including emergency medical treatment
  • Associated costs of flight/ accommodation cancellations
  • Loss of personal belongings such as luggage, passports, etc and more
  • Winter sports and expensive sports equipment (skis, golf clubs etc)

However, the medical coverage offered by travel insurance is typically limited to interim life threatening emergency treatments, with the primary goal of stabilising the individual to facilitate their return home. Long-term medical treatment is usually not covered, and the coverage ceases once the individual returns to their country of residence.

If you need help with your corporate health insurance please don’t hesitate to get in touch.