Travel Health Insurance Advice

When looking for travel health insurance advice, sometimes the professionals can really help you navigate the complicated landscape. While reading the terms and conditions of the aspects of your travel policy may be the least fun part of your journey, it is a must in the exciting world of Digital Nomadism. Learning which airlines have strict baggage policies is just as important as knowing about the type of travel insurance you need.

Do I need Health Insurance?

For some nomads, insurance isn’t a focal point on their journey, as they might have coverage under their parents or perhaps are staying within the boundaries of their home country or region. For other nomads transitioning to location independent entrepreneurs, they will bear the burden of providing their own health coverage.

Knowing how long you will be away, to where you are traveling and if your current coverage will provide protection are the first steps to being well insured. Most regions have specific regional coverage options, and larger companies offer more broad options.

A google search of travel insurance will display some of the top ranking insurance providers. Depending on your ISP, you may face ads from BUPA, Allianz, insuremytrip or others. But what makes these plans so different from each other?

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Costs of Travel Medical Insurance

For a contract that can facilitate traveling after an illness, as opposed to requiring your journey to end prematurely, understanding the in’s and outs of the contract is critical. Primarily, nomads focus on the price of insurance, and assume insurance companies will hold up their end of the contract. What constitutes the prices they are reflecting?

The factors for the cost of the insurance are:

  • Age
  • Duration of Coverage
  • Benefit Limits
  • Area of Coverage

If you are a 25 year old looking for coverage in the EU, then your prices will be dramatically less than a 65 year old looking for 6 months of coverage in the US.

Travel Health Insurance Advice – Reducing Costs

Some plans also offer deductibles to reduce the cost of the coverage. This can also be called the excess. The deductible (or excess) is the amount the insured will pay towards treatment. Typically the deductible is met over the time of the insurance coverage (usually a year) and not per treatment. If you choose a deductible of $100, then at the time of using the insurance, your contribution to the care costs would be $100 and the remaining costs would be covered by the insurance company.

Primary vs. Secondary Travel Health Insurance

Another critical focal point when determining which travel plan would be best for you is not related to the benefits of the plan, but how it is classified. To be more clear, not every travel insurance is suited for all scenarios as an expat or nomad and this is directly impacts the cost of the insurance.

In the “fine print” of the travel insurance plan, the insurance company should say whether the plan is qualifies as a primary or secondary travel medical insurance.

  • A Primary Insurance Plan is a stand alone travel medical insurance. It does not require you to have insurance in your home country.
  • A Secondary Insurance Plan is a travel medical insurance that can be purchased in addition to your insurance in your home country.

What is the best way to determine if the travel insurance is primary or secondary? CTRL+F on the policy wording for “secondary”- every insurance company will place it somewhere in the document by law. It will likely not be written on the benefits page or the purchase page of the website. If you are not sure, call the information line of the insurance company and ask.

Scenarios for Primary and Secondary Insurance

For example, if you are an EU citizen and travel from Spain to Greece, it can be supposed that your primary insurance is your nationalized health care. Therefore, you are eligible for secondary travel insurance.

If you are from the US and purchase only secondary insurance, it can be assumed, if you make a large claim, that you have insurance in the US and would be eligible to return to the US for treatment. This means the insurance company is not required to make a payment towards your care in a foreign country. If you do not have primary insurance in your home country, and purchase only secondary travel insurance, it is possible and likely your claim could be denied.

When Should You Buy Long Term Renewable Coverage?

If you are planning to remain outside of your home country for longer than one year, or do not have insurance in your home country while you are traveling, then primary insurance is your best choice for travel insurance. Also, there are private international long term expat plans that provide the best protection for you when your plans take you past a year.

Long term renewable plans include benefits that can’t be purchased in travel medical plans. For example:

  • Dental and Vision
  • Maternity
  • Preventative Health Exams
  • Coverage in your Home Country
  • Coverage for Preexisting Conditions

Ultimately, choosing the best plan by reputation is best, while also making sure you have the best coverage for your situation. Knowing what questions to ask is just as important and doing your research. As a nomad, more and more options are appearing to provide the best insurance for the unique lifestyle. Just confirm they are the best fit for you.

There are no rules about the distance traveled in nomad life. Wherever your route takes you, educating yourself on insurance is important.

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About the Author

Deanna Marie is a Global International Insurance Advisor with Pacific Prime Insurance Brokerage. Pacific Prime works with over 40 partners globally, providing options for any nationality in any country. We can offer travel and long term health, life and accident, income protection, property and casualty. We can tailor to individuals and employee benefit packages. Our services are 100% free to our customers. For advice and information, please email: [email protected]

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