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Does any insurance company sell continuous travel medical insurance that doesn't have to be renewed every year? Most companies seem to only sell single-trip or annual plans.

I want a policy that is continuously in force so that I don't need to renew it every year. I'm located in the U.S. and only interested in travel medical insurance (emergency medical care, medical evacuation) — not trip, baggage or other insurance

  • One way or another, you're presumably going to have to pay your premium at least once a year, since insurance companies tend to set new rates annually. So am I right that the only difference would be not filling out all the forms? – Zach Lipton Jul 1 '17 at 6:10
  • Zach: Yes, and not having to keep track of yet another thing in my life (have I remembered to renew my travel medical insurance for this year or not). The same way I don't need to buy home, auto and other insurance again every year. – Markus Hallmann Jul 2 '17 at 4:01
  • In Germany, you find a lot of companies that offer "auto-renewing" travel insurance (often requires direct debit authorization): officially, it is an annual plan, but if you don't terminate the contract and the payment arrives on time, the plan is extended for the next year. Is such a thing not available in the US? – Sabine Jul 3 '17 at 6:52
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There are a few companies that sell coverage that would likely meet your requirements, but it's generally not cheap. In general these are marketed as "Expat" insurance, but depending on the policy they generally coverage most things (if not everything) that travel insurance would. If you Google that term you'll find numerous companies that offer such policies.

The one I've come across most - and was actually coverage by for a few years - is from Cigna. I can't recommend them as such given that the policy was provided by my employer and I never had the need to make a claim, so I don't really know if they were any good or not, but they are definitely one of the better known names in this space.

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I doubt that you will find such travel insurnace, the longest I've been able to find is 18 months.

Consider this from the insurance company's point of view:

  • Over a long term the risk profile for an individual traveller will change, not least because they will get older, but also people suffer health events
  • The company's evaluation of risks generally will change
  • The regulatory environment will change, legal liabilities may change

The annual renewal gives an opportunity to reassess the risk and set a new premium or decline the business. The individual needs to declare any change in their risk profile and the insurance company has the opportunity to decline the business.

From the individual's point of view it's also a chance to reassess the market, there may be better options on the market.

I don't think it's that big a deal to renew one's policy each year. My insurance renews each year, I receive notification of the renewal with a reminder of the obligation to tell the insurer of any changes in my medical condition. If I take no action my insurance renews.

  • In Germany, no-questions-asked automatic-renewal travel insurances are very common, and very cheap. The insurance companies make it economically viable via two restrictions: 1. Only valid for trips up to 42 days. (Possibly several per year, but you need to return to Germany in between.) 2. No coverage for “predictable” expenses. E.g., if you have a chronic disease, you’ll need to bring the necessary medication along, or agree on some other solution with your regular insurance. – chirlu Jul 1 '17 at 7:23
  • Same in the Netherlands, except that the usual 'longest travel' is 90 days and you can go almost back to back, as long as you touch ground in the Netherlands in between. – Willeke Jul 1 '17 at 7:48
  • @chirlu no-questions-asked; no obligation to declare changes? What about if you cross some age threshold? Often over 70 or 75 is treated differently. What if you have a heart attack. My friend was refused insurance renewal after his heart attack. – djna Jul 1 '17 at 9:50
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    @djna: For the situation in Germany, the insurance premium indeed often depends on the age group; typically, it’s around € 10 per year for individuals younger than 65, and around € 30 per year for those who are older. But there are really no health questions at all. An elderly relative of mine has had several mild strokes, has a knee replacement, arrhythmia, and some other conditions, but all of that is no problem for this kind of insurance. – chirlu Jul 1 '17 at 11:11
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    @djna I have comprehensive travel insurance from a credit card company. Except for paying the annual card fee (which happens automatically) I don't have to do anything to renew it. Of course I have an obligation to tell them if my health changes. – Calchas Jul 1 '17 at 14:33

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