Travel Insurance Medical Only

Compare your travel insurance options with Savvy to see whether a medical-only policy is right for you.

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, updated on September 4th, 2023       

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While travel insurance is a crucial part of any holiday, whether interstate or overseas, it’s not uncommon to find policies which charge more to cover areas you don’t need. If you’re in this position, you might be looking for a medical-only policy, so it’s worth finding out more about it with Savvy.

We’re partnered with trusted financiers who can help you access the medical-only cover you need on your holiday at the right price, so you can compare your options all in one place with us and get your insurance quote underway today.

How does medical-only travel insurance work?

Medical-only travel insurance in Australia is a type of basic policy which, as the name suggests, only really covers you for claims made arising from medical expenses. While other policies such as comprehensive insurance can provide you with cover in a wider range of areas, such as for lost or damaged possessions, cancellations and car hire excess, this won’t be the case in a stripped-back, medical-only insurance agreement. It’s important to think about what you want, or need, coverage for under your insurance before committing to buying a particular policy. Some of the situations where a medical-only insurance policy may be better for you include:

  1. Those travelling light or without substantial luggage or valuables
  2. Backpackers getting around without any bookings or important items insuring their trip to Asia or anywhere else
  3. Those taking a short trip overseas with a low likelihood of cancellation
  4. Those looking to save money or travelling on a shoestring budget

However, not all situations are perfectly suited to basic insurance policies. You may find that a standard or comprehensive policy is better for you if you fall under the following categories:

  1. You’re travelling with several valuable items, such as electronics or hefty luggage
  2. You’re taking a long trip overseas, which automatically comes with a higher likelihood of a claim being made
  3. You wish to have more extensive medical coverage than what your medical-only policy provides you
  4. You have a pre-existing medical condition (may be able to be added as an extra)

Aside from this, though, medical-only insurance works the same way as any other policy in Australia in terms of purchasing your travel insurance and making a claim should you be required to do so.

What am I covered for under a medical-only travel insurance policy?

Specific areas of coverage will differ between insurers when it comes to the medical expenses which can be covered and claimed for. However, in most cases, you’ll be covered for the following:

Emergency medical treatment

If you fall ill or become injured as a result of an insured event and are sent to hospital for emergency treatment, your policy will usually cover you without limit. This is the main reason why most travellers look to take out international travel insurance in the first place, as overseas medical bills can be incredibly steep (particularly when taking out insurance for countries like the UAE, which has an expensive healthcare system).

General medical treatment

It isn’t just emergency treatment which you can be covered for, though, but also general medical expenses. If your illness or injury is seen by a GP, for instance, your policy can still cover you for your appointment, so you don’t leave the doctor’s office with a big hole in your pocket.

Emergency medical transportation

If your issue requires you to be transported to a hospital in a medical vehicle, such as an ambulance or helicopter, you can also claim that under your insurance without any imposed limit. This is particularly important, as helicopter transportation can cost tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, which would be charged directly to you if you didn’t take out insurance.

Medical evacuation

In some cases, your injury or illness is so severe that you’re required to be evacuated and repatriated to Australia. Your insurance can cover the costs associated with doing so, which may include your transportation and potentially cover certain cancellations (although not all will be included here).

Emergency dental

Finally, some basic international travel insurance policies will also enable you to claim for emergency dental work conducted whilst you’re overseas. Unlike the other areas of cover, though, insurers will likely enable you to claim up to a certain amount, such as $500 (although this too will vary between insurers). In some cases, emergency dental cover may also be available as an optional extra.

How should I compare medical-only travel insurance policies?

There are many ways to go about comparing different policies between insurers, which you can do right here with Savvy. We make it simple to compare the key areas that matter to you among some of the top insurers across the country. Some of the key areas to keep in mind when taking out medical-only travel insurance include:

Inclusions and exclusions

As mentioned, different policies will have different inclusions and exclusions, so it's important to find one which offers you the cover you need to travel overseas without any stress over whether you’ll be caught short financially over medical bills. It’s also important to think about which activities are and aren’t covered, such as if you’re looking to take out ski cover on your holiday, which won’t be offered under many basic policies.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Additionally, it’s crucial to determine whether your medical-only policy covers your pre-existing health condition. If you have a more serious condition such as heart or liver problems or diabetes, not all insurers will cover these under their main policy and could require you to pay substantially more to cover any medical expenses arising from them.

Cost of premiums

Of course, it’s important to consider how much your insurance costs. While medical-only policies are cheaper than comprehensive insurance, it’s worth comparing different offers to see whether there’s any scope for you to save more money. However, it should be about finding the right balance between cost and cover.

Excess requirements

Your excess is the sum you’re required to pay out of pocket when you make a claim, so finding an insurer who enables you to select your preferred claim size is important. You’re usually able to set this yourself up to around $500 but it’s crucial to not set it so high that it causes you financial discomfort if you have to make a claim.

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Why compare travel insurance with Savvy?

The pros and cons of medical-only travel insurance


Cheaper than comprehensive policies

The first benefit you’ll notice for medical-only is in your hip pocket, as these policies are less expensive than taking out more comprehensive insurance for your travels.

Suitable medical cover

If you’re concerned about getting the cover you need on your holiday, your medical-only policy offers cover for emergency and non-emergency expenses, among other things.

More suitable for those needing less cover

It’s useful to have another option if you’re travelling light or without as many concrete bookings which may otherwise be cause for a more expensive and expansive insurance policy.


Less overall coverage

Of course, you won’t be able to make any claims under your medical-only policy in relation to cancellations, lost luggage or valuables or if you damage a hire car.

Potentially lower claim limits

Even though these policies do cover you for various medical expenses, you may only be able to claim up to a lower limit under basic insurance compared to comprehensive.

Fewer claimable medical expenses

On top of lower limits, you may not be offered the option to claim for things like loss of income or permanent disability under a medical-only policy, which could be available under others.

More questions about medical-only travel insurance answered

Will medical-only travel insurance cover accidental death?

It may not – accidental death is a coverage area which may not be covered by a basic medical policy. If you want to take out a policy which covers this, you should compare your options to find a provider who does. You’re likely to be better off with a comprehensive policy if you wish to cover accidental death.

Can I make a claim if I require treatment for COVID-19?

Yes – there are basic policies which will cover you for medical expenses as a result of contracting COVID-19, such as requiring hospital treatment. However, you won’t be covered if your trip has to be cancelled or disrupted as a result of testing positive.

Will I be able to take out medical-only insurance if I’m pregnant?

Yes – different insurers will have different approaches to insuring pregnant travellers. For instance, while some may limit their cover to those pregnant up to just 18 to 20 weeks, others can cover you up to or over 30 weeks pregnant (32 to 36 weeks in some cases).

Is there any way for me to add cover for personal effects under a medical-only policy?

Yes – some insurers will allow you to add a certain level of personal effects cover to your basic policy. However, you’re likely to find that the limit you can claim up to is substantially lower than those offered on comprehensive policies, so if you need a particular amount of cover for loss or damage to your possessions, it might be worth looking at a more comprehensive policy.

Will I still be covered for personal liability with medical-only travel insurance?

Yes – basic policies can still cover personal liability if you’re found to be at fault for injury to someone else or damage to their property whilst overseas. However, like effects cover, you may be covered for less than on a comprehensive policy, such as $1 million compared to $5 million.

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We do not compare all travel insurance brands currently operating in the market. Any advice presented above or on other pages is general in nature and does not consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an insurance policy.

Savvy earns a commission from our partners each time a customer buys a travel insurance policy via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via their websites.

Before purchasing your policy, we recommend you refer to the provider’s PDS for any further information on the terms, inclusions and exclusions.