Is international travel insurance necessary? Absolutely. Imagine you’re in a foreign working on a photography project and you have a medical emergency. You don’t want to bankrupt yourself or loved ones with hospital bills, or worse, be stuck abroad without the resources to return home or get the care you need.
Since I live abroad, I purchased long-term worldwide travel medical insurance through IMG Global. It’s for individuals and families that are living or working abroad. The plan is available for anyone from any country. After comparing it with other health insurance plans, I decided it was the best for me as a self-employed travel photographer for a few reasons:
1. Worldwide Coverage: It doesn’t matter which country I visit, I’m even covered back home in America. If you are from the US, you can’t be there for more than 6 months out of the year though. As their website says, “U.S. citizens must plan to be residing outside U.S. on or before their effective date and renewal dates, for at least six (6) out of the next 12 months.”
2. Emergency Evacuation: This is one of the most important aspects of a global medical insurance plan. It’s possible that in order to get the medical care you need, you’ll have to be flown to the nearest hospital. A commercial flight with a rescue nurse can cost about $25,000 and a med jet runs around $100,000. Most people never need one though. According to Consumer Reports, only 5 in 100,000 travelers require out-of-country medical evacuation.
3. Long-Term Coverage: The length of coverage of the Global Medical Insurance plan is fixed at 1 year and is renewable annually. In the past, I purchased short-term coverage for trips up to a few weeks through World Nomads. However, now that my need annual coverage I’ve switched to IMG Global.
How to Choose the Right Plan
Choosing the right plan can be a little confusing. There are 5: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Gold Plus, and Platinum. The first thing I did was compare the benefits between each plan. I chose Gold because it offered more coverage like recreational scuba for instance. The biggest reason though was that it was something I could afford.
The next step was to figure out what was the highest deductible I was willing to accept. At the time of writing this I’m 42 and healthy. Other than a routine visit or two each year, I rarely spend any money on medical care. Keep in mind this is catastrophic insurance, not something to cover my day-to-day needs.
As a result, I chose a $5,000 deductible. If I had to pay out that amount, it would not ruin me financially. Choosing a higher deductible also lowered my monthly payments as you can see from this chart. Also, 50% of the deductible fee is waived (up to $2,500) if treatment takes place outside the US. To reduce the cost of my plan, I paid the entire year’s fee up front. It averaged out to $67 per month.
To sign up I just filled out the online form and made my payment. It was approved in less than 24 hours.
Are You Covered?
Another thing to find out is if your insurance plan in your home country covers you while living or traveling abroad. It often doesn’t. For example, Medicare does not cover accidents abroad, nor do many national health services from other countries.
For me, IMG Global’s long term travel medical insurance plan is a crucial part of my safety net. As a working photographer who lives abroad and travels a lot, it gives me the peace of mind I need to do my job.