Excess Health Insurance: Why It’s Important If You Get Sick While Traveling

Generally, excess is something we enjoy. Like hot fudge being applied to our turtle cheesecake. Excess insurance? Not so much. Having the right amount of insurance is hassle enough.

Here’s the thing, though: Excess insurance is not a bad thing when it comes to travel medical insurance. In fact, excess travel medical insurance as included in a Generali travel protection plan is something you should definitely consider for your next vacation.

Here’s why:

Primary Health Insurance

First of all, let’s clear up the confusing language. Primary, secondary and excess all refer to the sequence in which different insurance plans pay your medical bills. Excess insurance pays after other primary or secondary insurers have covered their portion.

If you have health insurance through two different entities, like your regular health insurance and a travel plan with health coverage, the primary carrier is the one that pays or reimburses your medical bills first.

This is generally the health insurance you already have for trips to the doctor, surgeries, and so forth. However, travel insurance companies differ in how they designate their medical coverage, primary, secondary or in excess, so check before you buy.

If your health plan is primary, it doesn’t matter if you racked up charges while you were on vacation in Malaysia or Myrtle Beach; the health plan will be sent the bills first and will pay whatever its policy dictates.

That can really differ, depending on who you saw where and for what ailment. If your health plan is very specific to the region where you live, doctors in other parts of the country are likely out-of-network. And most health plans have little or no coverage for health expenses incurred overseas.

The bottom line is that if you rack up medical bills on vacation, your health plan may not pay a large portion of those expenses … but because it’s primary, it gets to make that determination first.

Also read: Things Most People Get Wrong About Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Travel Insurance

Excess Health Insurance

At that point, the unpaid portion of your medical bills is passed to the next insurer in the payment sequence – in this case let’s say Generali.

Generali looks at health bills differently from a health insurer. There are some things it doesn’t cover (described fully in the travel insurance documents); if the plan terms are met and none of the expenses are on that list, Generali may reimburse you up to the limit stated in the policy.

With Generali, there are no deductibles or co-pays, network access fees or in-network/out-of-network differentials.* Medical bills can be paid to the extent of the coverage – which can be substantial. Generali’s Premium plan covers up to $250,000 per person in qualifying medical and dental expenses incurred while traveling.

Those expenses can include:

  • Services of physicians and registered nurses
  • Hospital charges
  • Local ambulance services
  • Prescription drugs and medicines

Even better, the coverage also includes expenses for therapeutic services and extends for up to one year from the date you become sick or injured during your trip, in case there are extenuating circumstances or a lengthy recovery back home.

Also read: The surprising connection beween travel and your health

Primary plus excess

You can see that excess insurance in the case of travel health insurance is actually the perfect complement to a standard health plan. Read more about how your health insurance and travel insurance can work together.

Because the two plans have to work in tandem, and because many overseas medical providers demand payment up front, it’s important to contact your primary and excess health insurers if you have a medical emergency while traveling.

After all, you probably aren’t going to know who’s going to cover what in the heat of the moment; you just need treatment. And the medical case managers associated with your travel-insurance carrier are likely going to be more experienced at all facets of international medical care and payment.

They can work with your health plan and medical providers so that you can get the care you need.

Read more about emergency medical assistance


This can be a confusing topic for many travelers. It’s natural to have questions.

You can read more about how Generali covers medical expenses in an article that answers many questions on travel health coverage.

If you still have questions, you can contact Generali customer service directly. You can also download sample plan documents to read the fine print on how medical expenses are covered.

And if all of that sounds good, you can get a travel insurance quote. It’s fast and easy, and there’s no obligation.

*Details may vary by state. See Plan Documents.


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