What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance


You’re wrapping up the last minute details for your trip abroad, picking out outfits, planning activities, hunting for the best restaurants, and then you’re struck with the realization that you should probably get travel insurance. Where do you even begin?

That’s where your trusty Healthcare Hustlers come in to help! If you Google travel insurance, you’ll find tons of plans, but they vary widely in terms of coverage, exclusions, and price. We’ve explain which features to look for so you can compare apples to apples and leave the country with peace of mind!

the travel insurance: the basics

Travel insurance is a supplemental type of insurance that may be purchased when traveling abroad. A quick Google search will reveal MANY travel insurance companies and plan options. While cost is definitely a factor when choosing a plan, you also need to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. To help simplify your search, we have outlined things to look for and be wary of when shopping for a travel insurance plan.

What to Look for In a Travel Insurance Plan

To make sure you are getting the best plan for your needs, review the following features in each plan and assess whether or not they make sense for the type of trip you are planning.

Most travel insurance plans offer some combination of the following:

  • Evacuation for medical and political disruptions

  • Evacuation for natural disasters

  • Medical coverage

  • Dental coverage

  • Transportation of a family member

  • Emergency medical evacuations

  • Crisis response situations (such as kidnapping or ransom)

  • Travel disruption (missed flights, lost baggage, etc.)

For each of these, you’ll want to read the full policy text before buying. We’ve shared some of the nitty gritty details you’ll want to understand when evaluating each plan’s fine-print.

Travel Insurance Sections to Pay Close Attention To:

Medical benefits, including:

    • Deductible - the amount you pay out-of-pocket before the insurance plan begins paying.

    • Co-pays - a fixed amount you pay for a service, usually at a doctor's office

    • Maximum coverage - the maximum amount the insurance company will pay. Any costs incurred beyond their maximum amount payable are your responsibility.

      • Be aware that costs of care vary significantly by country. If you end up receiving inpatient care at a US hospital for 3-4 days, the total bill could be well over $100,000. If your plan has a maximum coverage amount of $50,000, you are responsible for the remaining $50,000.

    • Provider network - Some travel insurance plans require you to see an in-network provider, or you are responsible for any costs above the "usual and customary" rate. Before buying a plan, look at the provider coverage map and check to see if  there are in-network hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors in the area you will be visiting. Check out this article if you aren't sure where to start. Again, this is most common when traveling in the US.

Limitations on Coverage

Limitations usually mean that the insurance will NOT pay for services or situations described, and these limitations and exclusions are often extensive on travel plans. Read the Description of Coverage to determine which services are not covered. Common exclusions include:

Common Care Exclusions

  • Treatment for pre-existing conditions

  • Routine care

  • Cancer treatment

  • Mental health care

  • Charges exceeding the usual and customary amount

  • Injury while intoxicated

  • STD testing and treatment

Geographic Exclusions

  • Coverage is not provided or is more expensive in some countries (such as the US)

Once you have reviewed the fine print of your top plans, you can then compare the prices. Be sure to factor in the items below:

  • Weekly/monthly/annual cost

  • Add-ons for certain high-risk activities (mountain climbing, white water rafting, etc) or certain countries