MoneySmart Financial is an Exempt Financial Adviser and Registered Insurance Broker licensed by Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS").

International Health Insurance vs Travel Insurance (2024)

When it comes to travelling overseas, especially for long-haul getaways, business events or even education purposes, getting covered for your health and safety will often be one of the top priorities as you prepare for your trip. Travel insurance is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but there’s also international health insurance that can offer you assurance.

While the two may appear to be similar, the coverage provided by each of them differ in many ways. If you’re a little confused about deciding which is better for you and your travel companion, let’s break down the differences here and find out how to choose the most suitable option.

Masthead Image

International Health Insurance and Travel Insurance: How And Which To Pick

There are a couple of factors to consider as we think of the two different categories of insurance, and these include:


Think of the purpose of your trip

If the key purpose of your trip is to go on a long, one-off vacation or relocate to another country permanently for work or education, international healthcare insurance will be more beneficial to you than travel insurance as you will get comprehensive medical coverage for a period of more than 90 days.

Moreover, you’ll be able to be overseas for an extended period of time without worrying about medical expenses. For short trips of less than 90 days, travel insurance might suffice as you wouldn’t need as wide of a coverage since the staying period is much shorter.


Consider the main location throughout the year

With more time spent in different countries, a more comprehensive health coverage will be needed and so, having an international healthcare insurance plan will be better than just getting travel insurance alone. Let’s say you’re an expat who travels to and fro between Singapore and your home country, you will probably need more than the 90 days of emergency health coverage you can get from travel insurance.


Get the right amount of coverage needed

Getting too much coverage will be a waste of money and having too little may result in you having difficulty in getting adequate medical and emergency help. So striking a balance is key when considering the extent of coverage you need.

Think about how much time you spend in Singapore and overseas, and compare it. If you spend more time in Singapore, and already have a local health insurance plan, travel insurance is most likely enough for your short trips overseas. On the other hand, when you’re spending extended periods of time outside of Singapore or in various countries in the region or around the world, relying on a local health insurance plan for more comprehensive healthcare expenses is insufficient. In this case, an international healthcare insurance plan would be the ideal choice.


Align your insurance plan to your budget

International healthcare insurance is definitely more costly than travel insurance. One obvious reason for this is that it not only offers more comprehensive health coverage, but also protection across borders for the entire duration of your plan.

As long as you can afford it and have the need for it, international healthcare insurance is great to have, you can even have both travel insurance and international healthcare insurance plans. However, if you cannot afford it, it would be wiser to just buy travel insurance for your overseas trips instead of struggling to save up and pay for the insurance plan.

International Health Insurance vs. Travel Insurance: What's The Difference?


Get your personalised Health Insurance Plan here →

Best International Health Insurance Plans

This is one of the more affordable international health insurance plans around in Singapore, as this tier is the lowest tier in their Prestige Healthcare series of plans. For a higher coverage, you can go for the Deluxe or Platinum plans. With coverage for hospitalisation and related services that is up to $900,000, this is considered slightly lower than the other plans like those offered by Cigna, AXA and Liberty.

However, you get an additional $300,000 of international cover when you travel outside your country of residence, on top of emergency medical evacuation and repatriation coverage and an optional add-on for maternity benefits.

With coverage for inpatient and outpatient costs worldwide, Cigna’s Silver Plan offers you the privilege of staying in a private room, as well as the option to adjust your deductible and cost sharing based on the premiums you are willing to pay.

Several optional add-ons are available for you to supplement your basic coverage, and these include full cancer and newborn care cover, international evacuation and crisis assurance, international outpatient cover, international health and wellbeing and international vision and dental.

Enjoy comprehensive coverage with this plan by AXA that provides a total claim limit of up to $4.5 million, covering the usual inpatient and outpatient costs, pre-hospitalisation cover and post-hospitalisation cover of up to 90 days from the date of discharge, pre-existing and congenital conditions. An optional add-on pregnancy and childbirth cover for healthcare costs of pre-natal stage to 42 days after childbirth, can also be added to boost your base plan.
Liberty presents a range of benefits such as inpatient and outpatient costs, as well as 30 days of pre-hospitalisation and 90 days of post-hospitalisation benefits. Their plans come with coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, legal expenses and assistance, and cancer treatment and organ transplants. There are also optional add-ons for aspects like outpatient treatment, maternity care and dental and optical costs.

Known for their No-Claim Bonus, FWD lets you double your annual limit when you do not make any hospitalisation claims for two years. You’ll also be able to customise your plan with an annual limit ranging from $100,000 to $3 million, and the flexibility of adjusting your deductible to be anywhere from $0 to $10,000.

On top of that, your annual limit is also automatically reloaded if you have used it and need to pay for accidental hospitalisation incidents. Optional add-ons include outpatient, dental, vision and maternity benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to get international health insurance?

Yes and no, this will depend on several factors such as the frequency of your travel, the purpose of your travel, whether you’re relocating to a new country, your budget, etc. An international health insurance will come in handy as you can be covered against any risks and excessive health expenses.

Moreover, you will receive medical coverage 24/7 wherever you fly to, have access to a dedicated personal health insurance advisor via a 24-hour hotline that is available anytime you may need assistance.

If I have travel insurance, do I still need to get international health insurance?

Yes and no. If you’re a frequent traveller, and need routine healthcare, then a more comprehensive plan like international health insurance would be better than just the travel insurance alone.

Should I use local or global health insurance providers?

This really depends on your needs and preferences. Be it a plan by a local or global health insurance provider, the type of insurance policy that is ideal for you will greatly depend on your current health situation, the cost and quality of the local health care system and hospitals, if you are settled in your country of residence or move frequently, how often you travel, and many other factors.