Travel Insurance vs. Travel Medical Insurance: Is There a Difference?

Brianna Weidman
03/01/2016
Travel Insurance vs. Travel Medical Insurance: Is There a Difference?

Purchasing an insurance policy is one of the most important things travelers can do to mitigate the health, safety, and financial risks that accompany international travel.

In this article, we break down the two types of insurance you may be considering: travel insurance and travel medical insurance. Is there a difference between the two? The answer is "yes."

Read on to learn what each type of insurance covers, how it may protect the financial investment you put into your trip, and what to look for in each policy—and discover options for purchase!

 

What is Travel Insurance?

what is travel insurance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travel insurance is a type of short-term insurance which "protects the financial investment in a trip"—it often includes coverage for lost baggage, trip cancellation, trip interruption, and other losses incurred while traveling.

 

PRO TIP! Travel insurance is sometimes referred to as trip cancellation insurance because trip cancellation coverage is the featured benefit for these types of policies. 

 

Many travel insurance plans also provide some coverage for unexpected medical expenses incurred abroad, though typically medical benefits have lower coverage amounts than in a travel medical insurance policy. 

The CDC recommends that travelers "carefully research the coverage offered to determine if additional travel health and medical evacuation insurance is needed."

 

How Does Travel Insurance Protect My Trip?

how travel insurance protects your trip

Should your trip be cancelled or interrupted for a covered reason, a travel insurance policy will reimburse you for the eligible pre-paid and non-refundable portions of your trip. Some examples of situations that are typically covered include a delay or cancellation due to weather or the injury, illness, or death of you, a travel companion, or a family member. 

Depending on the policy, travel insurance may also reimburse you for costs resulting from unexpected medical expenses, travel delays and inconveniences, and lost, damaged, or stolen luggage.

Travel insurance can help ease your travel worries as your trip approaches since you know that you've protected your investment. In fact, the CDC notes that travelers "may be more likely to avoid travel when sick if they know that their financial investment in the trip is protected."

Many travel insurance policies also provide multilingual, 24/7 travel assistance services so you know you have help navigating travel scenarios when you need it. 

 

What Should I Look for in a Travel Insurance Policy?

There are several important features to look for in a standard travel insurance policy. Consider the following recommended features as indicators of quality travel insurance coverage.

Recommended Features:

  • Trip cancellation coverage
  • Trip interruption coverage 
  • Travel delay coverage 
  • Lost, stolen, damaged, or delayed luggage coverage 
  • Missed connection coverage
  • Travel inconvenience coverage 
  • Emergency accident and sickness medical expense coverage 
  • 24/7 emergency travel assistance services 

A premium travel insurance plan will include the following "bonus benefits" or offer them as optional benefit upgrades. 

Bonus Benefits:

  • Trip cancellation for any reason coverage 
  • Trip interruption for any reason coverage 
  • Adventure sports coverage 
  • Rental car damage and theft coverage 
  • Vacation rental accommodations coverage 
  • Destination wedding coverage 

 

What is Travel Medical Insurance?

what is travel medical insurance

Travel medical insurance, also known as travel health insurance, is a type of short-term insurance designed to cover health care costs incurred outside of one's home country. Covered costs could include expenses resulting from hospital room and board, an ambulance ride, emergency room care, surgery, and more. 

The CDC notes that these types of plans are often budget-friendly and may be purchased "separately or in conjunction with medical evacuation insurance."

Depending on the particular policy, travel medical insurance may include coverage for medical evacuation, political evacuation, terrorism, crisis response, natural disaster, accidental death and dismemberment, and/or repatriation of remains, among other benefits.

Note that some travel medical policies even include travel-related benefits such as coverage for trip interruption, lost checked luggage, and travel delay.

 

How Does Travel Medical Insurance Protect My Trip?

how does travel medical insurance protect a trip

Since the benefits of many standard medical insurance policies do not apply beyond the borders of your home country, a travel medical insurance plan can cover you for eligible medical expenses incurred while abroad.

For example, the CDC notes that medical evacuation costs can exceed $100,000. With a travel medical policy that includes a Medical Evacuation benefit, you could be covered up to the benefit maximum for the cost of transportation to a facility with adequate medical care.

A travel medical insurance plan can help you avoid unnecessary financial risk, as it can provide access to quality care, travel assistance, and financial help if the unexpected strikes. 

Learn more about how travel medical insurance protects your family while traveling abroad. 

 

What Should I Look for in a Travel Medical Insurance Policy?

There are several important features to look for in a travel medical insurance policy. Consider the following recommended features as indicators of quality travel medical insurance coverage.

 

Recommended Features:

  • A variety of coverage maximum and deductible options 
  • Hospital room and board, local ambulance, and intensive care unit coverage 
  • Emergency medical evacuation coverage 
  • Accidental death & dismemberment coverage 
  • Repatriation of remains coverage 
  • 24/7 emergency travel assistance services 

Consider the following "bonus benefits" as indicators of premium travel medical insurance coverage.

Bonus Benefits:

  • Outpatient physical therapy and chiroptractic care coverage 
  • Emergency dental coverage 
  • Quarantine coverage 
  • Political evacuation coverage 
  • Terrorism coverage 
  • Natural disaster coverage 
  • Crisis Response benefit
  • Personal liability coverage 

 

Consider that some travel medical insurance policies also include coverage present in travel insurance policies, such as:

  • Trip interruption coverage 
  • Travel delay coverage 
  • Lost checked luggage coverage 

 

What happens if you get sick overseas? Guarantee you have health coverage.

What Are My Options?

travel medical insurance plan options for international travelers

While the CDC notes that "all travelers should consider insurance" there are many different types of travel insurance plans and each caters to a different type of traveler.

WorldTrips offers the Atlas Journey Series of travel insurance plans and the Atlas Series of travel medical insurance plans to meet your travel needs. 

Atlas Journey Preferred, Atlas Journey Premier, and Atlas Journey Economy provide benefits that align with the standard recommended benefits for travel insurance plans - plus additional, optional upgrades that align with "bonus" travel insurance benefits. 

Atlas Travel and Atlas Premium policies feature all of the recommended benefits present in standard travel medical insurance policies in addition to including "bonus" travel medical features and benefits. Learn more about these plans and others in the Atlas Series below

 

Which Travel Insurance Plan Is Right for Me? 

See what trip cancellation coverage options are available from WorldTrips to fit your trip needs. Read more about specific coverage and exclusions by clicking the link for each plan. 

 

Atlas Journey Preferred: 

This plan features a range of travel insurance benefits with customizable coverage options to cater to each travel's needs. This comprehensive plan features both trip cancellation and emergency medical coverage. 

 

Atlas Journey Premier:

This premium travel insurance policy is designed for travelers who want higher maximum limits for benefits such as Travel Delay, Missed Connection, Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense, Baggage Damage or Loss, and more. This plan features a variety of additional upgrades to fit traveler needs. 

 

Atlas Journey Economy: 

This plan provides standard comprehensive coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, and emergency medical expenses at a more budget-friendly price. 

 

Which Travel Medical Plan Is Right for Me? 

Read on to discover which travel medical insurance plan is right for you. Click the link for more detailed information on benefits and exclusions - or to price your plan. 

 

Atlas Travel:

This customizable policy is designed for international travelers wanting coverage for medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation in addition to supplemental travel benefits. Atlas Travel offers 7 deductible choices and allows you to choose your coverage maximum (up to $2 million for travelers under age 65). 

 

Atlas Premium:

This premium insurance provides the same benefits as our popular Atlas Travel plan with higher coverage limits for many important benefits, such as Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Crisis Response, Trip Interruption, Lost Checked Luggage, and more. 

 

Atlas Essential:

This plan is designed for the budget-conscious traveler and individuals who are seeking fewer benefits and lower coverage limits in exchange for a lower premium. 

 

Atlas Group:

This policy includes the same benefits and services as Atlas Travel insurance at a 10% reduced rate for groups or families of 5 or more. It is designed for groups such as missionary groups, student groups, and families of 5 or more traveling abroad for a short duration. 

 

Atlas MultiTrip:

This plan is designed for business executives, sales professionals, and international travelers taking multiple short trips of up to 45 days throughout the year. 


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WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies.

WorldTrips’ Atlas Journey, Atlas Cruiser, and Atlas On-The-Go trip protection insurance products are underwritten by Tokio Marine HCC’s U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (USSIC). USSIC is a Texas-domiciled insurance company operating on an admitted basis throughout the United States.

WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd.