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IPMI versus Travel Insurance

What is the difference between International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) and Travel Insurance
– and what’s best for you?

When planning a trip overseas, it’s important to make sure you have the health cover in place. While you may think a standard policy will suffice, there are several reasons why you should consider purchasing an international private medical insurance (IPMI) plan instead of a conventional travel insurance policy particularly if your main concerns are relating to your health. In this article, we’ll explore these differences so you can make an informed decision about which cover is best for your needs.

The main difference between travel insurance and IPMI is the length of the individual policies. Travel insurance covers you for a specific trip or period, whereas IPMI provides cover on an ongoing basis, and typically can be renewed every year.

International health cover is also available to people who have a chronic condition, have family members with chronic conditions, or are moving overseas long-term (including expatriates). Travel insurers only offer limited support for pre-existing conditions and whilst a new condition can be initially covered it is likely to be excluded during your next trip as it will be considered a pre-existing condition.

Emergency Care and Evacuation

The difference between these two types of cover is that with travel insurance your policy will only cover you for emergency medical care should something happen to go wrong during your travels – such as if you fell and broke your leg while crossing the road in Singapore – but it won’t help pay for everyday health costs such as prescription medicine, GP visits, or seeking care for the common flu.  Importantly you may also have less control overyour travel insurance policy and may not have the option to fly home or to your choice of hospital as travel insurers seek to best manage claims costs.

Trip Cancellation and Loss of Luggage

With Covi-19 wreaking havoc on travel systems we’ve all seen or even experience travel delays and flight cancellations. The pictures coming out of Heathrow Airport recently of piles of unclaimed (or lost luggage) reminds us of how easily an overseas trip can be disrupted.  Travel insurance is your best defense in obtaining reimbursement in these cases, and while the airline may provide some financial assistance, it is negligible when compared to the level of disruption caused by a cancelled flight.

Comprehensive Care and Guarantee of Renewal

Both travel insurance and IPMI provide comprehensive benefits including hospital stays and surgical expenses, but travel insurance may impose restrictions on how long you can stay in hospital particularly if you have returned to your home country. With a global IPMI plan, there are no such limitations on how long your policy will last and you can enjoy the continuation of cover wherever you are.

IPMI covers you for an entire year and does not have any cancellation fees or expiry dates. You can renew it every year if you want to keep enjoying the same great coverage! Most providers will include a guarantee of renewal clause in their policies.

In addition to covering medical expenses like inpatient and outpatient costs across the globe, IPMI also provides additional benefits including dental care, routine examinations, and even optional maternity coverage.

So, while both plans are designed to offer worldwide coverage, some key differences between the two will influence whether you should purchase international private medical insurance or travel insurance. Those who visit their home country frequently will be better served by purchasing international private health insurance over travel insurance.



When to consider Travel Insurance? When to Consider IPMI?
Holiday or business travel Living or moving overseas
Short or limited travel Longer than 6 months
Protection for non-medical risks          (Trip Disruption) Comprehensive Medical Cover
No pre-existing or chronic conditions Pre-existing/chronic conditions exist


Both travel insurance and international private medical insurance can certainly co-exist and are not mutually exclusive. If you do live overseas permanently or on an expatriate assignment you should consider an IPMI policy for yourself and your loved ones to ensure you have comprehensive cover for both emergencies and everyday health needs. At the same time, you may wish to protect yourself against things like flight cancellations, during business trips or personal holidays, and therefore you can consider a travel insurance policy. Some companies may even choose a membership package from an Assistance Company for an extra layer of protection. Read this blog to learn more about these services.

We hope this article has helped you to make an informed decision about your insurance needs. If you’re still unsure which option is best for you, contact us today and we’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have. At the end of the day, we want you to have peace of mind in knowing you have made the right choice so you can enjoy your travels or living overseas.

If you want more information on the topic or would like to receive some advice, then please contact us here at [[email protected]]