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How to Choose an International Health Insurance

International Health Insurance: This guide on how to choose an international travel insurance is somewhat extensive because I will explain what is the insurance, what should cover you, what should you check before hiring and some additional tips to choose the one that suits your needs.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance


However, if you do not want or do not have time to read and you just want a quick recommendation on which travel insurance to choose, I have discovered that World Nomads is the insurance that offers the best coverages at the best price.

I must admit, it is not the most economical you will find but without a doubt, it is one of the best. He is the one I always use for all my trips for years.

If you want to know how much insurance would cost for your trip click here or go to the end of the article, you will find a tool to determine your price.

What is an International Health Insurance?

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

Today there are hundreds of different types of insurance, the most common or perhaps with him that you are familiar with our medical insurance.

These insurance have the function to protect you or at least cover your medical expenses in case of an eventuality.

However, these insurances usually have a great limitation: they only cover you when you are in the country where you bought it or the country where your residence is located. 

In case you do not have private health insurance and your health services are provided by the Government, that is, you have social security (In Mexico it would be the IMSS or ISSSTE), it works the same. These health services are only available in your country.

The moment you leave to another country you are completely unprotected and if something will happen to you, or you need urgent care (like an accident or surgery),  the medical expenses you incur will have to be paid for you.

This is where a medical insurance with international coverage comes into play. An international medical insurance will cover the expenses of these possible emergencies while you are traveling in another country.

The interesting thing about this type of insurance is that it is usually not only for medical expenses, it also covers some emergencies such as:

  • If a relative dies and you have to go home
  • If you had to suspend your trip unexpectedly
  • If you are seriously hospitalized and someone has to go to take care of you, the insurance will pay for the transfer and lodging of this person
  • If you are assaulted and have to pay for passport replacement, cards or legal paperwork.
  • Even some travel insurance will cover if your camera, cell phone, laptop or another electronic device you carry on your trip is stolen.

This international insurance coverage will be discussed later, the important thing is that you understand that not having private health insurance in your country means that you will automatically be covered in other countries.

It seems obvious but I have met more than one traveler who does not realize this until it is too late.

Why is it important to have international travel insurance?

It is true that you may never use travel insurance, and I hope so, but if something happens to you, you will be grateful to have one.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

If in the previous point, where I explained what is an international medical insurance, I could not emphasize the importance of having one, I will try to address a little more the subject to expose you the whole panorama and the reality of what it is to travel.

You are not invincible

There are 2 ideas that when put together are the perfect recipe for a disaster: I never get sick and it’s a few days of travel.  Especially when you’re still young and you think the world is yours.

This is perhaps one of the main justifications people make for why not buy travel insurance, never get sick and they will not be far away for long. Insurance is not just about illnesses but accidents too, these can never be predicted.

In addition, something that has not happened in the past is not certain that it will not happen in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the possible risks of illness and accidents in travel, click here to read the stories of 18 travel bloggers about their experiences over the years traveling the world.

You will find that most of them managed to get out safely from the situations because they had an international travel insurance to back them up.

You do not want to be a burden to your family

I’m sure your parents would do anything for you but this does not mean that you should take advantage and become a burden for them.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

Maybe now you do not see it but at the end of the day, you are responsible for the consequences that your actions may have any part of this responsibility transcends beyond a simple illness.

I do not like to be pessimistic but I want to be realistic and to understand a little more what I mean click here and read this story of a family who had to make a collection of money to pay the transfer of the body of a mountaineer who died in an accident in another country.

The travel plans change.

Within your travel planning, you may not see the need to have insurance because you do not plan to carry out any activity that could put you at risk, however, when you are traveling you will go through a lot of different adventures that many of them will not be able to say. no, and it is in those moments when you appreciate having a traveler’s insurance.

In my case, I never thought to learn to ride a motorcycle in India, where traffic rules do not exist and animals cross the streets as if they were theirs. To make the situation worse it was a monsoon, dates that it seems that someone let the water run throughout the day and forgot to close it until September.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

When I got to Everest Base Camp I knew that I was at risk, but it was also necessary to have an international travel insurance that covered emergency evacuations in case I had to get out of the area by helicopter. While I’m there, I can tell you that I could see 10 helicopters a day going back and forth evacuating people.

Both situations sound quite adventurous and risky, I know, but they have been the best experiences I’ve had so far and part of the tranquility that allowed me to enjoy this was that I knew that I have an international medical insurance that covers any problem.

It is a requirement to enter some countries.

This should not be your justification for purchasing travel insurance but the reality is that for some countries it is a requirement to enter.

At least to enter Europe it is, and your insurance must have certain requirements to be accepted as such.

Please DO NOT listen to people who comment on things like: “I traveled to Europe and they never asked me for it”, or “I have traveled to that country and they have never asked for it”

It is likely that they do not ask for it at the entrance and it may not even be a requirement on the Embassy’s page, but an immigration officer has full authority to deny you entry if you do not have International Health Insurance. It can be a risk to let you enter the country. It sounds absurd, I know, but it is possible.

How to choose the best international medical insurance

First of all, you must understand that the purpose of any insurance is to mitigate or eliminate the risk, that is, if there is a risk of getting sick or having an accident, the insurance covers that risk. If you think your trip there is a risk of losing your suitcase, passport, stealing the electronics or going to do an extreme activity such as skydiving, mountaineering or there is even a risk of being in an area of natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, the sure you choose must be able to eliminate or cover those risks.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

Because of this, an international medical insurance is something that you have to have when you travel, either for 2 days or a whole year.  In all trips there are risks but these risks vary depending on each person, style of travel and destination.

Each trip is different, a travel insurance for an exchange student is not the same as for a traveler who goes diving in Australia or mountaineering in the Swiss Alps.

At the end of the day, although all the insurances have similar characteristics, you must choose one that fits your personal needs and style. 

With all of the above, how do you choose the best international travel medical insurance?

The main problem that arises when you try to buy an international traveler’s insurance is that, if you already buy insurance of another style is a mess (life, car, accidents, serious diseases, etc.), understand the clauses and exclusions, not It’s simple, (I know because I worked in the insurance section of a financial company before I started traveling), now imagine having to deal with international health insurance.

Do not worry, it does not have to be that way, there are simple ways to define what you need, understand the clauses and choose an insurance, that’s what this article is about, but before continuing you should understand that although it is true that insurance It may seem like a strong initial expense to break down the cost per day of travel is negligible, sometimes as low as 3 or 4 USD per day, and for a few dollars a day to have the chance to sleep peacefully I think it’s worth it.

Before continuing to explain what you should include, I will quickly address an issue that you may be asking: Travel insurance included in credit cards.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

I have travel insurance with a credit card, is this enough?

The first mistake that many people make is to think that they have an international travel insurance because they have a travel card but they forget that many times some credit cards limit such things as Air tickets must be purchased with a credit card. credit that the insurance account.

That is, if you bought your plane tickets with another credit card or with cash then your travel insurance is not valid.

The reality is that it is extremely difficult to tell you exactly if the travel insurance that your card has is good or bad, and I can not give you a credit card recommendation that has good insurance. Each trip is different and therefore each international travel insurance is different, for that reason you should review either coverage includes.

But in case your credit card has travel insurance at least check these 3 points:

  1. How to make it valid. That is, do you have to buy plane tickets? Book the hotel? or simply because having the card is valid?
  2. What IF includes. Ask what is your coverage of medical expenses, what medical expenses are valid, in what countries it is valid if it includes additional coverage such as lost luggage, how to make them valid … etc. When you have finished reading this article, you will have a clearer idea of what to ask your bank about your travel insurance by credit card.
  3. What is not included. Even more important to know what is included is important to know what is not and when it is NOT valid. It would be a bad experience to go to a doctor’s office believing that your insurance includes it and then discover that it is not like that. So make sure you have in writing everything that your insurance does NOT include.

Normally this information can be asked by phone to your bank but it is important to have it in writing, it is usually on the website, if not, ask your bank to send it to you by email.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

What should good international health insurance include?

A good international medical insurance must consider MINIMUM, the following:

High coverage in medical treatment.

Do not skimp on expenses when it comes to coverage of medical treatment, many companies will try to offer you cheaper travel insurance by reducing medical coverage but you never know what can happen out there, especially if you travel to countries where a night in hospital can leave you Just as expensive as buying a car in your country.

Imagine that in the worst case you had to be emergency surgery and enter surgery, do you have any idea how much this could cost? So not to save you a few cents you’re risking so much.

Emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains.

I know that talking about death is a not a very pleasant subject, but it is a possibility. There is nothing worse than being in a foreign country and that your relatives cannot recover your remains due to the cost.

The repatriation of remains can be one of the most expensive expenses depending on the countries and distance, but undoubtedly having this coverage is mandatory.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

In the matter of evacuations, there are 2 types: medical and non-medical.

The doctor is if you are in an area without access to a hospital and you need to move, your international medical insurance should be able to cover this transfer. The non-medical is when you are in an area with some potential risk of natural disaster or civil conflict. The insurance international traveler should be able to cover this.

If your insurance considers these coverages you can be sure that you have a decent travel policy, but not the best one.

What do international travel insurance I recommend?

As I mentioned at the beginning, the international travel insurance that I recommend and use in all my trips is:  World Nomads

One of the reasons why I chose World Nomads is why its coverage in medical expenses is very high and it also covers the following points, which I never saw that I was offered in any other international medical insurance.

  • Cancellation, interruption or delay of the trip.
  • Loss of a flight connection caused by the airline
  • Theft of luggage or loss due to a natural disaster
  • Theft of cash
  • Passport theft and travel documents
  • Emergency dental treatment.
  • The personal accident such as the loss of an eye or both, a member of the body.

The sum insured, that is, the money that you are going to pay for each of the previous coverages varies depending on the conditions, so it is important not only to review what is covered but also to read what is not and in what cases if you can make use of these coverages.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

Regardless of the company you hire, always read the fine print and conditions of any international health insurance contract.

Keep in mind that many companies, including World Nomads, do not cover you in case you are under the influence of alcohol or other substances, nor do they cover pre-existing illnesses, that is to say, that you had before going on a trip.

The policy you choose will determine the type of activities you will be covered, for example in the case of  World Nomads, the basic coverage does not cover extreme sports or not as extreme as climbing, mountaineering, diving, etc. While Explorer coverage does cover them.

What happens if I have an accident or get sick?

The first thing you should do is contact your emergency team by phone, they speak several languages and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (The cost of this call can be recovered later through your own insurance)

They will tell you how to proceed.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

In case you can not contact them then you can make a claim later but like the rest of the travel insurance companies, the way to make a claim is to have as much documentation as possible to help you justify the accident or the claim.

For example, if something is stolen, the first document you should have on hand is the police report. If you have a medical expense in another country, receipts or proof of expenses with your name are required. Try to include your name EXACTLY as it appears on your policy or your passport, in fact, your policy should have the same name as your passport.

Just consider that within the small print of World Nomads insurance there is something called “Policy Excess” or Deductible, with the exception of emergency evacuations, medical transfers or repatriation of remains, you will have to pay $ 100 USD. That is, if your hospital was $ 1,900 USD, you will pay only $ 100 of the total cost. This is a common practice of any insurance, whether travel, medical, car or life. I only mention it so that you have it in consideration.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

In addition to all this, I think that some of the advantages I like most about  World Nomads is that you can buy travel insurance for just a few days, a week or a year. And both the purchase process and to make a claim is simple, everything is online and you do not need to go with an agent or insurer. It is highly recommended for people seeking medical insurance to travel to Europe for studies or holidays.

Additional tips for choosing an international travel insurance

Regardless of whether you choose World Nomads or another company to buy your international travel insurance, this article has given you the basis to know what your insurance should include and how to make claims.

To conclude I would like to give you some additional tips that will help you when buying insurance

Tip 1 – What coverages really matter to you.

The price of insurance depends to a large extent on the coverage you have, if you have a limited budget then make sure you really choose what you are going to use, for example, on the subject of “cancellation or interruption of the trip”.

If you are thinking about buying a package or booking plane tickets, hotels, tours, etc. very much in advance, it makes a lot of sense that your insurance has a cancellation or interruption coverage for the trip because if something should happen, you can be sure that you can recover your money On the other hand, if you are one of those who plans at the moment and does not make many purchases in advance, you do not need to acquire or discount an insurance that has coverage in case of cancellation or interruption of travel.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

The same happens in the case of extreme sports, rent cars, add coverage for theft of electrical devices such as cameras or cell phones, etc. Be very aware of what you think is necessary for your trip.

Tip 2 – Know in detail what does NOT include your health insurance.

More than knowing what your insurance includes, it is VERY important that you know that it does NOT include you and in what cases they will not cover you. Most travel insurance, although covering medical issues, are for emergencies, that is, they do not cover pre-existing conditions or even diseases related to a pre-existing condition.

Another issue of being aware is when it is possible to make claims, for example, in the case of electronic theft these are covered if they were stolen in your presence (assault) but it does not cover you if they were stolen when you were not looking, for example, You left in a locker, safe or simply were not aware of your bag.

So, more than knowing what it covers, it reviews again and again what it does NOT cover.

Tip 3 – Really look at the sum insured.

The cheapest travel insurance the first thing that will reduce is the sum insured, in fact, many credit card travel insurance covers small amounts (between 10,000 and 50,000 USD). This amount although it sounds a lot of money in your country in other countries such as Europe or the United States is very little and something as simple as the transfer by ambulance and an X-ray can be enough to spend this amount.

Eliminate additional coverage but DO NOT skimp on the insured sum.

Tip 4 – Do not wait long to buy your travel insurance.

Many insurance companies give you a “grace period” or have a requirement that you buy the insurance at the time you buy the plane ticket.

On some other occasions, if you buy your insurance when you are already traveling, which is possible, they ask you to wait 3 days for it to take effect if you have an accident in those 3 days of travel you will not be covered. That’s why it’s important to buy your travel insurance as soon as possible.

International Health Insurance
International Health Insurance

Tip 5 – The cheap is expensive 

This is perhaps one of the most valuable tips in travel, at the end of the day to try to save a few dollars you can regret it. This applies not only to travel insurance but also to everything: tours, transportation, hotels, etc.

It is true that you can save money in many ways without having to sacrifice quality but there are times where to get the quality you have to pay a little more.

After reading this article and these tips I hope you have learned how to choose an international medical insurance that fits your needs and style of travel.

I tried to show roughly what is insurance, what should be included and how to make it valid but finally I have to say that once you buy it and have the policy send it to your email, send it to a trusted person, If possible, print it even better and always carry with you the data of the emergency numbers.

International medical insurance and your passport are the two most important documents of any trip.

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