Why an International Health Insurance is not a Travel Insurance

Why an International Health Insurance is not a Travel Insurance

16 April 2020 Insurance

The time has come for us to clarify an important, insurance related, topic which is confusing many expats and travellers. We are often asked if we provide travel insurance. And the answer is no, simply because International Health Insurance and Travel insurance are two completely different insurance products.

So, you might wonder what the main differences are, and which insurance is best suited for you. We decided to shed some light on they differ from each other and here is a comprehensive, yet easy to grab, comparison of the two:

For which type of stay?

International Health insurance: It is also referred to as International Private Medical Insurance, or IPMI, and is intended for people who are going to live abroad for several months or years. If you plan an expatriation for over 3 months, then a worldwide health insurance is a must. It is meant for expats, students, globetrotters, families going abroad on a sabbatical, etc. Literally, any planning to live abroad for a mid to long-term duration.

Travel insurance: For short stay, usually less than three months, and primarily for people going for a holiday, for sightseeing or visiting family and friends abroad. It is not suited for individuals or families who are planning to reside abroad for many months as the cover is usually far more limited.

For which reasons?

International Health insurance: You want to be covered for both emergency situations and daily care. Expat health insurance offers you coverage for medical treatments and hospital stay. It also provides protection for all outpatient treatments as well. It provides personalised coverage with several options to choose from such as regular consultations, check-ups… Evacuation and repatriation coverage are also available in most policies and has proven to be very useful. You will be reimbursed from the first euro/dollar/etc. unless you decided to go for deductibles.

Travel insurance: You want to be covered for any unforeseen injury and minor mishaps that may occur during your stay. The insurance will cover you for diseases but not for more comprehensive medical treatments. Check-ups, vision aid and dental treatments are not included. Options are also limited. In contrary to expat insurance, loss of luggage and personal belongings is covered. Medical evacuation and repatriation belong to the most basic level of cover. You can also ask for a cancellation and curtailment cover, sometimes as a top-up option.

What is the cost and duration of a plan?

International Health insurance: There is usually no end date for the contract. In most instances the contract ends once the people have returned to their country of origin. You can choose at which frequency you want to pay the insurance premium (monthly, quarterly, annually). This latter will vary depending on your age, destination, deductible and medical conditions assessment. So it is really tailored to each insured.

Travel insurance: Most policies are fixed-term contracts, they last the length of your trip (return is already planned). If you want to extend your stay, you must inform your insurance company that will potentially be able to extend your contract. Because you pay for the whole duration of your trip, the totally of the premium is paid in one go and the cost is usually quite low since the cover is itself pretty limited.


If you are an expat and are seeking a comprehensive health insurance that best suits your lifestyle, then you should definitively go for an international health insurance, especially if you are often moving from a country to another, or if you don’t know when you will return. You will also be covered whenever you go back to your home country for holidays, family reunion, etc. Thanks to all the additional services that an international health insurance includes, you get high-end medical care and complete piece of mind, in your language of preference.

If you are traveling to a single holiday destination, for a short duration, and if you do not mind having a very low health cover then a travel insurance would be the right option. Travel insurance is mostly important if you have invested a consequent amount in your trip and want to be reimbursed in case of cancelled flight, departure delay, or lost luggage. We also invite you to ask your public or private health insurance, and credit card company, if you are covered when traveling abroad as you might not need to buy an additional travel insurance.

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