Don't Let a Medical Emergency Ruin Your Trip Abroad: The Importance of Travel Insurance

Appetites for international travel are on the rise, with over half of Americans planning to travel internationally in the next 5 years. However, many travelers are unaware of the coverage gaps and financial risks that come with relying on their domestic health plan abroad. In fact, nearly half of consumers plan to use their domestic health plan while traveling internationally, which can result in emotional and financial distress.

Are you one of the many Americans planning to travel abroad in the next two years? If so, you may want to reconsider your attitude toward travel insurance. According to a recent survey, one in four travelers will experience a medical event while abroad, yet 46% believe their domestic health insurance will cover it. The truth is, most domestic health insurance plans do not cover medical expenses incurred outside of the United States.

But don’t just take it from us, GeoBlue warns that over three-quarters of those who believe their domestic health insurance covers medical events abroad likely don’t have adequate coverage. This means that if you were to get sick or injured while abroad, you could be facing thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The reality is that most domestic health plans aren’t designed to be used abroad. With different healthcare systems and infrastructure in each country, U.S.-style health plans often don’t work overseas. International healthcare providers expect payment in full at the time of service, which can result in denial of care and/or confiscation of the traveler’s passport until full payment is received. Additionally, international claims are typically considered out of network on a U.S.-style plan, resulting in lower reimbursement rates and higher out-of-pocket costs for the traveler.

Furthermore, domestic health insurers often don’t provide 24/7/365 service, which can lead to delays in receiving care and obtaining verification of coverage. In the case of a medically necessary medical evacuation, which isn’t typically covered on a domestic health plan, the traveler will likely need to pay for it upfront and make complicated arrangements on their own. This could cost anywhere from $10,000 to nearly $100,000 depending on the medical situation and location(s) involved.

This is where travel medical insurance comes in. Whether you purchase it yourself or receive it as part of an employer-sponsored plan, travel medical insurance can address these gaps in care and coverage. GeoBlue consumer plans, for example, offer up to $1 million in coverage for less than $2 a day. Employer-sponsored plans offer blanket coverage for all employees, whether on business or leisure travel.

While it may be tempting to think “it won’t happen to me,” the reality is that a medical emergency can happen to anyone, at any time. In fact, 9 in 10 travelers surveyed acknowledge that a medical event is a realistic possibility. So why take the risk?

Investing in travel insurance can provide peace of mind and potentially save you from unexpected expenses. A majority of travelers surveyed (77%) believe that medical care abroad is just as important as a nice place to stay and a good flight, and we couldn’t agree more. Travel insurance can cover emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation, trip cancellation, and more depending on the plan you choose.

Don’t let unexpected medical expenses ruin your travel plans. Plan ahead and invest in travel medical insurance for your next international adventure. With the right coverage, you can travel with peace of mind knowing that you’re protected from coverage gaps and financial distress. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.