International Health Insurance

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International Medical Insurance is designed to provide you with access to private healthcare when you are living away from the UK. It can work in tandem with or completely separate from any state-funded care in the country you’re living in.

This includes cover for routine healthcare, emergencies, normal pregnancy, prescription drugs and even chronic conditions. Healthcare provisions vary considerably around the world; opt for international cover to ensure you receive the best treatment globally.

What Does International Health Insurance Cover?

Given that International Health Insurance provides cover in countries that do not have access to state­-funded healthcare, most insurers provide an extensive range of cover with their policies.

Often, this is more than you are likely to get from UK only Medical Insurance coverage, including cover for chronic conditions and normal pregnancy.

Most policies will usually include the following types of cover that you will either be given automatically or be able to add to your policy in exchange for increased premiums:

  • 24/7 emergency help and advice lines to arrange suitable quality healthcare
  • All expenses paid for in-patient, day-­patient and out­-patient treatment
  • Specialists’ fees
  • Drugs and dressings
  • Home nursing
  • GP costs
  • Dentistry
  • Front line medical services, such as A&E or ICU
  • Normal pregnancy and childbirth.
Drew Nelson Health & Wellbeing Expert at Drewberry

Insurers have different ways of structuring Worldwide Health Insurance, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be offered all of these types of cover.

However, most policies will cover inpatient and day­-patient treatments, essential scans, outpatient surgeries and cancer treatment.

Drew Nelson
Health & Wellbeing Expert at Drewberry

Do I Need Overseas Health Insurance?

Depending on where in the world you live or travel the quality and availability of free healthcare can vary considerably. It is a huge risk living overseas without any private healthcare.

With over 1.2 million expatriates living or working in the EU alone, and countless others living worldwide, many UK insurers have developed a range of International Medical Insurance products.

For expats and others individuals who regularly spend time abroad, a UK-only Health Insurance plan will not provide the level of cover required to ensure treatment can be received when you need it wherever you are in the world.

It’s important to consider the potential cost of healthcare in countries without a social healthcare system. In many countries anything from an operation to a simple trip to the doctor is fully chargeable.

Global health insurers are also able to help with arranging suitable medical treatment, which can be difficult to do alone in a foreign country.

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Worldwide Medical Insurance Policy Options

When taking out International Medical Insurance, you will be given a range of options available to both increase and reduce the scope of the cover provided. This will in turn increase or reduce the cost of your policy.

One of the first choices you will face during the application process will be how many countries you would like your insurance to cover you in, with the following categories being the most common options to choose from:

  • Europe Only
  • Worldwide Excluding USA
  • Worldwide Including USA

Policy Limits and Excess

An International Health Insurance policy will usually include the option of adding an Excess, providing a range of options for the policyholder to choose from.

Most commonly, the excess is set up as a simple deductible, where the policyholder pays the first £x of any claim. It is more common on an international insurance plan than a UK plan to pay the excess per claim rather than per policy year.


The alternative to a simple deductible excess is a co-­payment option. With this option the insured agrees to pay a certain percentage of each claim instead of a fixed amount. The risk imposed on the insured in the co-­payment option is very different to the simple deductible excess and it is important to take these risks into consideration when deciding on the right worldwide health cover.

How Much Does International Health Insurance Cost?

Given that Global Health Insurance provides cover in more than just one country, you may find yourself with more options than usual when applying for it.

Pricing will also differ depending on the the countries covered by your policy as healthcare costs can vary considerably around the world.

However, like any Private Medical Insurance product, when purchasing International Health Insurance you tend to get what you pay for.

There are a range of different factors that will affect the cost and coverage of your Overseas Health Insurance, some relating to the options you choose and others the result of your personal circumstances including:

  • Your Age
  • Current Health
  • Level Of Cover
  • Excess
  • Countries Covered

Country-Specific Premiums

Healthcare does not cost the same in every country, so the country you are living in or travelling to may affect your premiums.

Some providers of international health cover will have country­-specific rates and the currency with which you choose to pay for your insurance may have an affect on how much you pay, although most insurers are quite flexible in terms of the currency you use to pay for your policy.

Is Travel Insurance the Same as International Medical Insurance?

The difference between International Medical Insurance and Travel Insurance can be one of the biggest confusions for people preparing for a trip abroad.

These two types of insurance are very different and mistaking them can lead to a lack of important cover overseas.

What is Covered?
International Health Insurance
Travel Insurance

Emergency Medical Treatments

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Everyday Healthcare



Cancer Treatments & Check-Ups


Maternity & Dental Treatments



Only if the medical treatment you need is not available locally.

Lost Luggage


Missed Flights


Do I Need International Private Health Insurance or Travel Insurance?

When taking out a Travel Insurance policy, many focus on the common issues that can come with taking a holiday:

  • Lost or stolen luggage
  • Flight delays and cancellations
  • Sudden changes in plans that may require a fast return home or cancelling the trip entirely.

However, a key element of any good Travel Insurance policy is to cover health treatment abroad while travelling.

The key difference between the medical cover provided by a Travel Insurance policy and the cover provided by an International Medical Insurance plan is that the Travel Insurance is focused on accidents and emergencies only.

There is no cover for elective treatments or treatment for chronic conditions with Travel Insurance. This is unlikely to be an issue if you are expecting to stay only a short time overseas.

If you expect a long stay, however, an International Health Insurance policy will allow you to receive medical treatments overseas and even allow you to continue receiving treatments for chronic or some pre­-existing conditions in hospitals abroad.

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Common International Medical Insurance Questions

  • Is My Health Insurance Valid Internationally?

    If you bought a UK-specific policy that’s designed to provide you with treatment in the UK then the answer is probably no, your Health Insurance won’t cover you internationally.

    For shorter trips abroad, you’d likely need to consider Travel Insurance, which will cover emergency medical situations that might arise as well as repatriation to bring you home if you’re too ill to fly commercially.

    For longer stays or living abroad, International Health Insurance is there to provide expats with the peace of mind that comes from knowing their healthcare needs are covered in their adopted country.

    If you’re going to be living abroad for any length of time, you’ll want Health Insurance that will cover you in full for every medical requirement in the country you’re residing in.

  • Can I Use My European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

    Your European Health Insurance Card entitles you to the same treatment in a public hospital as a local would receive in countries across the European Economic Area. However, it’s not designed to cover long stays, only temporary visits such as holidays.

    For longer stays, you’d need International Health Insurance to ensure you get the healthcare you need.

  • Can I Use the Local Public Health System?

    This is a complicated question and ultimately depends on where you’re moving. Each country will have its own rules for foreign nationals living and working in their countries in terms of who gets access to state-funded healthcare.

    Often, it will be based on contributions so you may not be able to access state-funded healthcare straight away if you haven’t paid local taxes for a set period of time.

    Or, if you’re travelling somewhere like the USA, which has an almost entirely private healthcare system, you won’t get any help from the state for your healthcare needs and will have to meet them out of pocket if you don’t have International Travel Insurance.

    Some countries may not grant visas to those who cannot prove that they have independent Health Insurance and won’t be a burden on the local public system, so check carefully before you travel to ensure your visa is valid.

  • Can You Get Short-Term Expat Health Insurance?

    Yes, certain providers will now offer you short-term Expat Health Insurance for stays abroad of less than a year.

    Previously, you’d have needed to buy an annual policy regardless of the length of your trip, but this has now changed and there are several providers on the market which will provide you with cover for stays abroad of between 3 and 11 months so you only pay for the period you’d actually overseas.

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Compare Best International Health Insurance Companies

The key to finding the best worldwide health insurance policy to cover your medical treatments abroad is finding a balance between cost and cover. Think about which types of cover you will need and which insurers offer the best benefits.

Allianz International Health Insurance logo


Allianz International Health Insurance features an essential plan for students and a premier plan for families and professionals. The fully comprehensive premium plan from Allianz offers optional cover for maternity care, non-emergency outpatient treatment, non-emergency dental treatment and repatriation.

april uk international pmi

April UK

Global Health Insurance policies from April UK range from basic to highly comprehensive. Core cover includes care and management of chronic conditions, cancer treatments and inpatient treatments while executive cover also covers mental health treatments.

axa ppp


AXA International Health Insurance policies provide cover for both you and your family with access to multilingual advisers at all times of day to help you organise your treatments. Standard policies cover inpatient and outpatient treatments and cancer treatments as well as optional cover for vaccinations and private consultations with medical practitioners.

Bupa International


Bupa International Health Insurance offers world-class service and support from anywhere in the world with no need for referrals. Access any of Bupa’s exceptional facilities around the world and have fast access to specialists and medical services.

Freedom International Health Insurance logo


Freedom Worldwide Health Insurance covers core inpatient and outpatient treatments, maintenance of and prescriptions for chronic conditions, alternative treatments, and maternity cover while you’re abroad.

Get International Private Health Insurance Quotes & Expert Advice

As with any insurance product, it is important to truly understand what the product covers and any potential pitfalls. If you do not feel comfortable trawling through the insurer’s terms and conditions then feel free to speak to one of our experts.

Why Speak to Us…

We started Drewberry because we were tired of being treated like a number and not getting the service we all deserve when it comes to things as important as protecting our health and our finances. Below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to talk to us.

  • There is no fee for our service
  • We are independent and impartial
    Drewberry isn’t tied to any insurance company, so we can provide completely impartial advice to make sure you get the most appropriate policy based solely on your needs.
  • We’ve got bargaining power on our side
    This allows us to negotiate better premiums for you than you going direct yourself.
  • You’ll speak to a dedicated expert from start to finish
    You will speak to a named expert with a direct telephone and email. No more automated machines and no more being sent from pillar to post – you’ll have someone to speak to who knows you.
  • Benefit from our 5-star service
    We pride ourselves on providing a 5-star service, as can be seen from our 2831 and growing independent client reviews rating us at 4.92 / 5.
  • Gain the protection of regulated advice
    You are protected. Where we provide a regulated advice service we are responsible for the policy we set-up for you. Doing it yourself or going direct to an insurer won’t provide this protection, so you won’t benefit from these securities.
  • Claims support when you need it the most
    You have support should you need to make a claim. The most important thing when it comes to insurance is that claims are paid and quickly. We are here to support you during the claims process and make sure it’s as smooth and stress free as possible.

If you require any guidance, further information or quotes from the leading International Health Insurance providers, please do not hesitate to pop us an email or give us a call on 02074425880.

Nadeem Farid
Head of Employee Benefits at Drewberry

I had a great experience with Drewberry, they have a lot of knowledge and expertise with life insurance and income protection and were able to advise me and arrange suitable products. Highly recommend.

Lachlan Mellings
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