What’s The Difference Between International Health & Travel Insurance?

International Health Insurance v Travel Insurance - Proudly South African In Perth

Whether you are a holidaymaker heading off for a much needed break or an expat moving abroad longer term for work or personal reasons, you need to make preparations for how you will be looked after if you require medical attention.

I’ve teamed up with Allianz Care to bring you some clarity on when you might need travel insurance and when international health insurance may be more appropriate.


What’s The Difference Between International Health & Travel Insurance?


The difference between international health insurance and travel insurance is a source of confusion for many. Although both are intended for people spending time abroad, the level of cover and intended purpose of each plan is significantly different. Not understanding the difference may leave you in a difficult situation overseas.

International health insurance is designed to offer a comprehensive level of healthcare cover to those relocating from their home country for a sustained period of time, whereas travel insurance is geared towards providing cover for emergency treatment while you are in another country for a short period of time.


What is travel insurance?


Travel insurance is designed to cover you for trips of limited duration. It is intended for holidaymakers and short term trips abroad, and offers protection against travel related issues such as:

  • Cancellations
  • Loss of luggage
  • Loss of personal belongings
  • Emergency medical treatment

Many people believe that standard travel insurance will provide adequate cover in a foreign country, but are not aware of its limitations.

In terms of medical cover, travel insurance is intended to provide cover for short-term emergency medical treatment, within your specified area of cover. The aim of which is to get you well enough to return home.

Where required, travel insurance will not cover long term medical treatment. In this instance you will usually be expected to return to your home country to continue treatment once you are medically fit to do so. Cover ceases once you are back in your country of residence


What is international health insurance?


International health insurance is designed for those living or working overseas for a prolonged period of time. It covers treatment for both emergency and routine healthcare, and provides expats with flexibility in terms of choice of doctor and treatment facility, with the ability to receive treatment anywhere within their region of cover.

For those relocating or who have a home abroad, and would like comprehensive medical cover in their home country as well as other countries where they regularly spend time, international health insurance would be required.

When experiencing a medical emergency, or even routine medical care, in a country where you are not familiar with the health system, and where you do not speak the language, international health insurance cover will ensure you get the medical attention you need.

International health insurance cover varies depending on selected plans, but often includes:

  • Hospital stay
  • Routine check-ups
  • Cover for pre-existing conditions
  • Cover for chronic conditions
  • Choice of medical providers


As an expat, it can be tempting to try to keep costs down by opting to rely on local healthcare when you are abroad. However, should you fall ill, you may find that the local healthcare options do not meet your needs.

Depending on where you are moving to and your individual circumstances, you may not be entitled to free or subsidised healthcare, such as Medicare in Australia. Without an expatriate health plan, you may incur expensive medical costs.

Before venturing abroad, it is important to weigh up your options and ensure that you have adequate health insurance you can rely on. Having the correct cover in place, will give you peace of mind that the medical needs of you and your family will be taken care of. Get the best treatment possible in the event of an accident with comprehensive international health insurance from Allianz Care.


Information contained in this post is not specific advice – please seek advice from your insurer or broker for your personal circumstances.


About Author

Helping you move to, settle in, and explore your new home in Australia. Avid reader, beach lover, and horse addict. As someone who has emigrated, not once, not twice, but three times, I know exactly what you’re going through. The ups and downs of emigration are faster than a rollercoaster and I’ve been there – three times!

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