Is standard travel insurance enough to cover medical costs abroad?

When you book your flight, most companies will also offer you a traveler’s insurance policy or prompt you to purchase one from an affiliated provider. The coverage offered by these plans varies, but most travelers automatically assume that what is offered is enough to keep them safe.

This isn’t always the case. This coverage is usually meant to cover minor issues, leaving you vulnerable in the case of a serious medical emergency. In some countries, the traveler may not be allowed to leave the hospital until the bill is paid, which means that having the right coverage is vital.

So, how much coverage is enough? Consider the following factors.

Distance from home

Part of your coverage needs to cover evacuation costs in the case of an emergency return home. The further from home you are, the more the evacuation will cost. You need coverage that works for the distance to be traveled.

What your health insurance already covers

It isn’t common, but some US health insurance plans will cover you in part even when outside the country. For example, many Medicare supplemental plans offer emergency medical coverage abroad. If you travel internationally for work, your insurance plan might offer the coverage you need.

The cost of medical care in the country being visited

Depending on where you are traveling, medical care could be cheap, or even free, which means less coverage is needed. Other locations are expensive. You may want to research typical medical and hospitalization costs at your destinations.

High-risk activities

If you plan to do something like mountain climbing, scuba diving or drive a motorcycle, you may want more coverage than if your plans are to lay on the beach all day. You should not assume that a tour organization or guide will have coverage that extends to you.

Ultimately, determining an exact number is difficult. In order to get the right amount of coverage, consider your itinerary carefully and share any concerns with an experienced insurance broker.