17 March 2020 by Anna Staford
Article updated 20th October 2020.
Simply put, travel insurance and health insurance aren’t the same thing. 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 of health insurance versus 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.
Generally speaking, health insurance is intended to cover more regular medical procedures and treatment, including anything from scans, surgical procedures and medication. Policies differ widely and include different medical conditions, but most plans cover hospital stays (classed as impatient 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 through professional sporting activities and routine pregnancy care are not covered under standard health insurance policies. Unless you have an international health care aspect to your 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 your travel insurance, so you know whether your covered and can decide accordingly whether to seek specialist insurance for pre-existing conditions before you go. Always check beyond the headlines of your chosen provider as cover varies and you often find that you may need to ‘add’ some essential elements of coverage to the cheapest policies.
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 your trip before it starts.
Whether you already have insurance or not, here are some key questions to check:
Finally, don’t assume that your health insurance or travel insurance will cover you for everything! Check the FDCO’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?