travel insurance and health insurance

Travel Insurance and Health Insurance: What Is the Difference?

17 March 2020 by Anna Staford

Travel Insurance Tips

Simply put, travel insurance and health insurance aren't the same things. There are some similar benefits for both travel insurance and health insurance but there are also key differences that you should be aware of, so you don’t fall victim to any surprises on your travels.

Whether you’re looking for travel insurance for your next trip, or you're thinking "do I even need travel insurance because I have health insurance?", then you should read on to find out more details on the differences in health insurance versus travel insurance.

What Is Travel Insurance?

What is travel insurance

The purpose of travel insurance is to cover you against costs or losses if something unexpected goes wrong when you're on holiday, or on a trip. Such as emergency medical treatment, flight cancellations or delays, lost or stolen luggage, lost travel documents and for personal liability. Usually, the benefits cover costs you might incur outside your home country. Travel insurance covers necessary emergency medical treatment and not ongoing treatment for ongoing conditions. While, health insurance is primarily there to cover regular medical check-ups, rehabilitation and ongoing medical aftercare usually within your home country. That being said, you can find travel policies that cover some medical costs in your home country and some pre-existing medical conditions. And health plans that cover some medical treatment abroad, so it’s worth checking each policy because they are all different!

Travel insurance is also usually a fixed, short term insurance covering you and your belongings on a particular trip. You can buy cover for single trips or get an annual multi-trip policy if you are a frequent traveller. There will be differences in price according to where you travel, how long you travel for, and often your age and the cover limits for each insurance benefit. For example between £1m and £10m for emergency medical treatment.

What Is Health Insurance?

What is health insurance

Generally speaking, health insurance is intended to cover more regular medical procedures and treatment, including anything from scans, surgical procedures, medication to private medical emergencies. Policies will differ and include different medical conditions, but most plans will cover hospital stays (classed as inpatient treatment), while more expensive plans will cover specialist medical consultancy (sometimes known as outpatient treatment). Usually existing or chronic problems, A&E visits, organ transplants, accidents by sporting activities and normal pregnancies are not covered under standard health insurance policies. Unless you have international health insurance you also won’t be covered for treatment abroad. If you are an EU resident and travelling in the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides some state provided medical care. But it won't cover your flight costs home or doctor escort if you need one.

Read also: What Are Prices for Brits' Treatment Abroad?

If you have a pre-existing health condition such as cancer, or chronic conditions it’s wise to check for the right travel insurance, so you know you're covered for any medical emergencies before you go. Always check beyond the headlines of your chosen provider as cover varies and terms like 'emergency' or 'urgent' can differ for each provider.

Travel insurance usually includes the peace of mind that emergency transportation to the nearest suitable facility is covered as well as your repatriation home. This often might not be included under a health insurance policy and the cost of travel could cost you thousands alone! As opposed to health insurance, travel insurance also provides the added benefits of wider cover while you're away. Depending on the policy you chose, you're covered when something unexpected happens to you or your belongings, if your journey is disrupted, or even if you need to cancel before you travel.

Travel insurance questions

Whether you already have insurance or not, here are some key questions to check:

  • How often do I travel? It may be cheaper to get an Annual Multi Trip travel policy if you travel twice or more a year.
  • Do I have a pre-existing medical condition or chronic condition that may impact my insurance? It's essential to declare it as it may invalidate your insurance if you don't.
  • Where am I going and what will I be doing? You may need to check that your planned adventure activities are covered as they may be deemed as higher risk.
  • Will my policy cover me for emergency costs should I get ill or suffer an accident? Will I be supported by a 24 hr Assistance Helpline and helped to return back to my home country?
  • What is the cost of my holiday and what am I taking with me? This will help you decide if you want to protect yourself against the risk of cancellation and whether to include baggage cover in your travel insurance.

Finally, don't assume that your health insurance or travel insurance will cover you for everything! Check the FCO's travel advice before you book your trip and always beyond the highlights of your chosen policy. If in doubt, then feel free to get in contact with us and we can help you to understand the cover we offer.

Read also: When Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

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