At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is Travel Medical Insurance?

L. Terry
L. Terry

Travel medical insurance offers protection for illness or injury incurred during either domestic or overseas travel. It's valuable because many medical insurance policies have coverage limitations and might apply only to travel within a certain part of the world. Purchasing additional travel insurance can ensure that the policyholder has the same coverage that he or she would with their primary medical coverage.

Travel medical insurance ensures that travelers have access to medical care just as they would if they were in their home country. Some countries, for example, might require payment up front or might refuse treatment to anyone who doesn't have insurance. Countries that have public healthcare systems might not provide full medical services to visitors from other countries. In these cases, the insurance might be the only way for a traveler to receive necessary medical treatment.

In some instances, it may be wise to purchase medical travel insurance for your trip.
In some instances, it may be wise to purchase medical travel insurance for your trip.

There are two primary forms of travel medical insurance: travel medical and major medical. Basic insurance policies are designed for short-term travel, such as business trips or vacations. Coverage ranges from five days to as much as one year, depending on the policy and provider. Major medical is designed for extended stays, from six months to one year or even longer. Both types help cover medical costs and assist policyholders in locating doctors, hospitals, healthcare facilities and even translators.

Travelers can also purchase medical emergency evacuation insurance, which reimburses policyholders if they must be transported to another location to obtain needed healthcare. Medical evacuation might be required if a traveler becomes ill or injured in a remote or rural area where there are either no medical facilities or none that provide the level of care that the policyholder needs. If the policyholder needs to be transported to an urban location with more extensive healthcare facilities or even taken back to his or her own country, medical emergency evacuation insurance will cover those costs so he or she doesn't have to pay a large amount of money up front and out of his or her own pocket.

Travelers can purchase travel medical insurance on a per-trip basis or as multi-trip coverage, which provides coverage for multiple trips per year but might require each trip to last for no more than 30 days. Frequent travelers can purchase an annual policy that provides coverage for an entire year.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Nice article about travel health insurance and this article gives a lot of information about the travel and medical insurance policies.


@bythewell - You make a really good point about your local insurance not covering it. Remember that if you have an injury or an illness that has to be cared for back home as well, like if you need physiotherapy, you won't always be able to get your local insurance to cover it if the injury happened outside the country.

You don't want to be stuck paying for a silly mistake you made on a trip for years afterwards.

And you can find cheap travel medical insurance. Just make sure the coverage is good. There's no use getting something that's only good for a few thousand dollars. That will barely cover the ambulance in some countries!


Honestly, there is no good reason to go without travel medical insurance. Often even if you have a really good policy it's not going to cover you if you go out of the country, and it's almost guaranteed you're going to get sick or injured at some point on your trip.

If it turns out to be serious, you could be in big trouble without insurance.

And there is very cheap travel insurance available. It seems to be quite a competitive business and if you aren't going anywhere too exotic you will absolutely be able to afford it (if you can afford to travel in the first place!)

Even if you're just going away for the weekend, I would get it. Just in case.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • In some instances, it may be wise to purchase medical travel insurance for your trip.
      By: HappyAlex
      In some instances, it may be wise to purchase medical travel insurance for your trip.