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So, you might already know that health insurance is one of the most important things you need when traveling domestically or internationally.

You might be wondering, is travel health insurance worth it? Do you even need travel insurance or international health insurance? What’s the difference between travel insurance vs health insurance? And which one should you get?

The good news is that the answer to this common question doesn’t need to be confusing – let me take you through everything you need to know.

Travel Insurance vs Health Insurance: A Quick Overview

The primary difference between travel insurance and international health insurance is this:

Travel Insurance

You should consider getting travel insurance if:

International Health Insurance

You should get international health insurance if:

Side-by-side comparison of what’s typically covered with travel vs health insurance:

 Travel InsuranceInternational Health Insurance
Medical emergenciesYesYes
Non-emergency medical treatmentNoYes
Prescription medicationYesYes
Medical evacuationYesYes
Regular check-upsNoYes
Maternity careNoYes
Newborn careNoYes
Pre-existing conditionsNoYes
Mental health careNoYes
Cancer treatmentNoYes
Dental emergenciesYesYes
Non-emergency dental treatmentNoYes
Vision careNoYes
Trip cancellationYesNo
Trip interruptionYesNo
Flight delayYesNo
Loss of belongingsYesNo
Liability insuranceYesNo

Want to understand how to better prepare for any upcoming medical appointments while abroad? Save this guide.

Travel vs Health Insurance: A Detailed Look

What Travel Insurance Covers

Travel insurance is designed to assist you with medical emergencies while abroad and to protect you from unexpected financial loss during your travels due to trip disruption or damage/loss of personal items.

Travel insurance typically covers the following:

Duration of Travel Insurance

Next, you might be wondering, “how much travel insurance do I need?” Well, you can literally choose to be covered only for the days you will be abroad.

If you travel frequently, you can also get an annual plan, but coverage is limited to a certain number of days per trip. For instance, if you have an annual travel insurance plan because you travel frequently for business trips, but the plan only covers you for three months per trip, if your trip is longer than that you won’t be covered for any time exceeding three months.

Geographical Location

You can choose where you want coverage. Depending on the company, you either select the specific country you’re traveling to or you can pick from a more general list of destinations, such as Europe, Australia, United States – including or excluding your country of origin.


The cost of your travel insurance plan depends on factors such as the duration of the trip, amount of coverage you want, and your age.

Plans that cover the US are more expensive than those that don’t because healthcare costs are higher.

What International Health Insurance Covers

International health insurance is also known as expat health insurance, and it covers medical treatment for people living outside their home country. It functions similar to the health insurance you would get while living at home, except for the international coverage.

International health insurance usually covers:

Not Covered: Trip disruption, flight delays, personal belongings, liability.

Duration of International Health Insurance

You can get international health insurance for the entire duration you will be living abroad. Or you can pay and extend your international health insurance plan monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

Geographical Location

As the name suggests, international health insurance covers you internationally. Meaning even if you travel to another country and require medical assistance, your medical bills will be covered.


The cost of an international health insurance plan depends on how many medical procedures you wish to have covered. In-patient and out-patient treatment, medication, and emergency services are usually included on a “basic plan,” and adding other items, such as maternity, dental, etc., will increase the price.

Similarly, to travel insurance, an international health insurance plan that covers the USA will be more expensive than one which does not.

To Be Clear:

Where Can I Get Insurance?

You can get travel insurance from:

You can get international health insurance from:

Should I Rely on My Credit Card Travel Insurance?

This isn’t a good idea. Although your credit card may cover some travel insurance expenses, they often don’t have the same level of coverage as travel insurance for medical expenses or emergency medical transportation while traveling. This could end up being costly if your credit card doesn’t offer you the right coverage.

It’s always best to check if your credit card has travel insurance coverage if necessary, just to bridge any coverage gaps before traveling. And this also keeps you covered if your credit card doesn’t have travel insurance coverage.

Is Travel Health Insurance Worth It?

Well, that depends on what value you place on your personal health and belongings. Travel insurance and international health insurance, and even health insurance in general – is the kind of thing that you don’t need until you need it. And then you’ll wish you had it. Whether it’s because you broke your arm while hiking in Peru or you got food poisoning in Thailand – it’s generally a smart idea to have some kind of travel insurance while you’re abroad.

Now that you know the difference, it’s time to start shopping around for a plan that suits you!

Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.