What is the difference?
With so many types of insurance products available to buy, it is easy to get them mixed up. With almost 2 decades of experience in insurance broking, we find the two types of insurance that are most often confused with each other are international health insurance and travel insurance. Although both provide cover when you are outside the UK, there is a big distinction between the two and we will try to explain this in more detail, so you can confidently search and buy the insurance plan you need.
Why do people confuse international health insurance with travel insurance?
International health insurance and travel insurance are both types of insurance plans that are meant to protect you if something unexpected happens. Even though they may work in similar ways and they may offer some comparable benefits, international health insurance and travel insurance are different products which are designed for different purposes.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a way of protecting yourself and your belongings when you go on holiday (usually up to a year) or on other short-term trips (usually abroad, but UK plans are available too). While travel insurance may also include some medical benefits to cover you for emergencies and accidents, it is not designed to provide cover for ongoing care.
What is covered by travel insurance?
The purpose of travel insurance is to cover your losses in case of cancelled or missed flights, lost or stolen luggage, money, medical emergencies and personal liability whilst you are travelling. So, unlike health insurance, which is primarily designed to cover medical bills, the health cover under a travel insurance policy is much more limited.
What is international health insurance?
If you are planning to travel and live abroad for long periods of time (at least 12 months), whether it is for work, volunteering, studying or any other reason, you may find that a travel insurance plan is not enough for your healthcare needs. That is where an international health insurance policy can help.
An international health insurance plan is a way to access private healthcare like you would at home, when abroad. You are covered in either a specific country or an area, such as Europe or worldwide. This means you get access to private healthcare in the country you are at that time and your bills are taken care of by the insurance company.
What is covered by international health insurance?
In comparison with travel insurance that usually covers just medical emergencies, international health insurance provides a more extensive level of medical cover. Depending on your policy and cover, your international private medical insurance plan may include cover for: tests, scans, treatments, hospital accommodation, surgery and specialist appointments for acute conditions (conditions that can be cured), diagnosis of non-acute conditions, cancer cover, dental cover, medical evacuation and repatriation.
Which one do I need?
As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to cover your private medical bills abroad in the long-term, you need international health insurance. However, if you are going on a short trip outside the UK, then you will most likely be looking for travel insurance.
Looking for advice?
Our friendly experts are here to help you decide if you need international health insurance or travel insurance for your trip.
Please note that UK Health Insurance does not sell travel insurance. If you are looking for a travel insurance plan, please check one of the many online comparison websites available.