Does Insurance Cover Travel Vaccines?

Does Insurance Cover Travel Vaccines?

Quick summary: Travel vaccines are immunisations specifically for international travel, protecting against diseases not typically encountered at home. Unlike routine vaccinations, travel vaccines are often not covered by national health plans. Understanding your specific insurance plan is crucial to determine if travel vaccinations are included. Most insurance plans cover treatment for illnesses contracted while travelling but typically exclude pre-travel expenses like vaccinations.

What are travel vaccines?

Travel vaccines are immunisations specifically for international travel. They can be administered in a variety of ways, through injections or oral liquids and tablets.

They protect you from potentially life-threatening diseases prevalent in certain regions. Unlike childhood vaccinations, travel jabs target
illnesses you wouldn’t typically encounter at home.

While routine vaccinations might be covered by your national health plan, most travel vaccinations fall outside that scope. Here’s where medical insurance and travel insurance come into play, but the relationship between these and travel vaccines is not always straightforward.

Understanding your specific insurance plan details is important to know if travel vaccinations are included. While most insurance plans often cover treatment for illnesses contracted while travelling, they typically exclude pre-travel expenses like vaccinations.

However, some comprehensive medical insurance plans might offer coverage for specific travel vaccines. Having a good medical insurance plan that covers travel vaccinations is a valuable asset, especially for frequent travellers.

By understanding your insurance coverage and prioritising travel vaccinations, you’re taking charge of your health as a globetrotter.

Most common travel vaccination for international travellers

Knowing which travel vaccines, you need is crucial for staying healthy abroad. Here’s some of the most common ones for international travellers:

  • Hepatitis A: This vaccine protects against a liver infection caused by contaminated food or water. It’s essential for travellers to most parts of the world, especially regions with poor sanitation.
  • Typhoid: This vaccine guards against a bacterial infection spread through contaminated food and water. It’s recommended for travellers to South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  • Rabies: This potentially fatal virus is transmitted through animal bites. It’s present in 150+ countries worldwide.

Why Vaccinations are Important for Travellers:

As a traveller, staying healthy is paramount, especially as frequent travel across borders increases your exposure to various diseases, making it essential to stay up-to-date on vaccinations.

Travel vaccinations are a fundamental aspect of responsible travel. They offer a vital layer of protection against preventable diseases and life-threatening illnesses, safeguarding your health and
well-being while abroad.

Getting vaccinated can save you from unnecessary medical expenses, allowing you to focus on enjoying your travels.

Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the most common vaccines recommended for international

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. It’s usually spread through contaminated food or water.
Why is it Important for Travellers?
Hepatitis A is prevalent in many developing countries, particularly in regions with poor sanitation. Travellers visiting these areas are at high risk of contracting the virus, which can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and liver failure.

Key Points:
● This vaccine is highly effective.
● A single dose offers long-term protection
● A booster shot is recommended 20 years after the initial vaccination.
● Combined Hepatitis A and B vaccine is also available.


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water. It causes symptoms like high fever, weakness, stomach pain, and diarrhoea.

Why is it Important for Travellers?
Typhoid is prevalent in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and parts of Latin America. Travellers visiting these regions or developing countries with poor sanitation are at high risk of contracting typhoid. The illness can be debilitating and life-threatening if untreated.

Key Points:

  • here are two vaccinations available: an oral vaccine and an injectable vaccine.
  • Both vaccines offer protection for 2-3 years.
  • Oral vaccine requires multiple doses, while injectable requires one.
  • Booster shots might be recommended depending on your travel frequency and duration.


Rabies is a deadly viral infection affecting the nervous system. It’s primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Once symptoms develop, the disease is almost always fatal.

Why is it Important for Travellers?
Rabies is present in 150+ countries worldwide, with a high prevalence in Asia and Africa. Travellers venturing here, particularly those engaging in outdoor activities, visiting rural areas, or coming into contact with animals, are at risk of contracting rabies.

Key Points:

  • Rabies is a potentially fatal disease with no effective treatment once symptoms appear.
  • Pre-exposure vaccination typically involves three doses.
  • Pre-exposure vaccination provides long-term protection, with booster shots recommended every 5 years.

How do travel vaccines work?

Travel vaccines work by introducing a weakened or inactive form of the virus or bacteria into your body. This triggers the immune system to develop antibodies to fight the specific disease. If you encounter the actual virus or bacteria in the future, your body is then equipped to combat it effectively.

Key Points:

  • Travel vaccines don’t cause the actual disease, they provide your body with the tools to recognise and fight the infection if encountered.
  • The effectiveness of travel vaccines varies depending on the specific vaccine and your immune response.

Where to get travel vaccines if you’re abroad?

Ideally, you should get your travel vaccines before departure in your home country. However, situations might arise where you need a vaccination while already abroad, especially if you’re a long- term traveller. Here are some options:

Travel clinics:

  • Travel clinics: Many popular tourist destinations have travel clinics staffed by healthcare professionals experienced in travel medicine and who speak English. They often stock common travel vaccines and can advise you on the necessary immunisations based on your itinerary.
  • Hospitals: Major hospitals in big cities can provide travel vaccinations but this isn’t always guaranteed. You should be prepared for potentially higher costs and longer wait times when compared to travel clinics.
  • Pharmacies: In some countries, pharmacies stock and administer some travel vaccines, particularly those for common illnesses.  However, variety and availability are often limited, it is not a universal practice and regulations can vary.

My advice? Our advice is you always know where your closest travel clinic is to you on your travels, and utilise them to keep your vaccinations up to date with your travel destinations. 

Who is eligible for travel vaccines?

Travel vaccinations are generally safe for most healthy individuals. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Age:  Age restrictions apply to certain travel vaccines and children might require a different vaccination schedule compared to adults. 
  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding:  Some travel vaccines are not recommended for anyone pregnant or breastfeeding. Discuss your travel plans and vaccination needs with your doctor for personalised advice.
  • Immunocompromised Individuals:  People with weakened immune systems cannot receive certain travel vaccines or might experience a different immune response. Consult your doctor before getting any travel vaccinations if you have a compromised immune system.
  • Those With Serious Allergies: many vaccines contain allergens such as egg. Discuss any allergies with your healthcare provider to ensure that you receive vaccines that are safe for you. 

When should you get a travel vaccine?

Your travelling destinations: Research the specific diseases prevalent in the regions you’ll be visiting. Your healthcare provider can also suggest which vaccines are necessary according to your itinerary. Also, as some vaccines require multiple doses spread over weeks or months, planning ahead is vital.

Previous vaccination record: Your doctor will consider your existing immunisation history to see if you’re up-to-date on any relevant vaccinations.

If you are immunocompromised: People with weakened immune systems may have limitations on certain vaccines. Consult your doctor well in advance of your trip to discuss your vaccination options and timeline.

General eligibility for travel vaccinations

Generally speaking, most healthy individuals can safely receive travel vaccinations. 

However, consulting a healthcare provider before your trip is essential to ensure the vaccinations are safe and appropriate for you, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or allergies or if you’ve reacted badly with a vaccine previously. 

They can assess your individual health situation, and travel itinerary, and recommend the most appropriate vaccinations for you.

Your medical insurance coverage

Understanding your medical insurance coverage for travel vaccinations is crucial. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Those Who Are Not Covered by Medical Insurance:  If you don’t have medical insurance, you’ll need to pay for travel vaccinations yourself. These can add up so factor the cost into your travel budget. Research prices at different clinics beforehand to find the most affordable option.
  • Those Who Are Covered by Medical Insurance:  Some plans might cover the cost of travel vaccinations but this isn’t always the case.  Check your specific policy details to understand your coverage. Be aware that there may be specific limitations or deductibles.

Can you claim travel vaccinations on travel insurance?

Policy exclusions:

Travel insurance policies typically exclude pre-travel expenses like vaccinations. These policies are designed to cover unexpected medical emergencies that arise during your trip, not preventative measures taken before departure.

Some post-exposure travel vaccinations, such as rabies, might be covered by your insurance. The difference is that these vaccines become medically necessary due to an incident like a bite from a contaminated animal. Pre-exposure vaccines are deemed as preventative measures, while post-exposure vaccines are medical treatments

Are travel vaccines covered by private health insurance?

Some plans might charge extras:

While some private health insurance plans might cover the cost of travel vaccinations, others might treat them as an extra expense, requiring additional fees or excluding them altogether.  Always check the specifics of your plan.

Will your insurance cover travel vaccines?

Whether your insurance covers travel vaccinations depends on your specific plan type (travel insurance or medical insurance) and its terms and conditions. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Key Points:

  • Travel insurance typically excludes pre-trip expenses like vaccinations.
  • Medical insurance might offer partial coverage, but it’s not guaranteed.
  • Review your policy documents for sections on preventative care or vaccinations to understand your coverage.
  • If your policy does cover travel vaccinations you will probably have to pay the initial costs and then claim this back. 

Our advice? Don’t wait until the last minute.

  • Contact your insurance provider if the policy wording is unclear.
  • Consult a healthcare provider to discuss your vaccination needs and get a quote for the costs.

How to check if your policy covers travel vaccines

Policy documents are often long and complicated, filled with unclear terminology and confusing caveats. There are ways to make it easier to understand your specific coverage. 

Locating the policy document

Your policy document will either be a physical copy or an online version accessible through your provider’s portal or emailed to you by your provider. If it’s an online version, ensure you download this and save it somewhere easily accessible. 

Identifying relevant sections

Knowing where to look in your policy documents is key: Focus on sections related to “benefits” and “exclusions” to understand what is covered and what isn’t. 

Look for specific mentions of “vaccinations”, “preventative care”, or “pre-travel expenses.”

If you have access to an online copy of your policy, use ‘control’ ‘f’ to search for keywords quickly. You can also ask chat GPT to read the policy, summarise the important information, and find the relevant details.

What documents do I need to claim travel vaccines on my insurance?

To make a claim with your insurance provider you will need to give evidence of the treatment you received, why it was necessary, and what the costs were.

General documentation considerations

If your plan covers travel vaccinations, you might be required to submit specific documents to claim reimbursement.  Here are some general considerations:

  • Receipts: for your travel vaccinations, including the date, vaccine type, and cost.
  • Medical Records: reflecting the vaccination received.
  • Doctor’s note outlining the vaccinations and their purpose
  • Proof of upcoming travel plans: evidencing the need for vaccinations.
  • Proof of Vaccination: your vaccination card

By keeping these documents organised and accessible, you’ll streamline the claim process.

Additional Considerations when getting travel vaccinations:

Travel vaccinations are a crucial investment for nomads. Getting recommended jabs before your trip significantly reduces your risk of preventable diseases, ensuring a smoother, healthier adventure.

Here are the key points:

  • Stay Informed: Check trusted sources like WHO or CDC for the latest medical news and vaccination recommendations.
  • Doctor vs. Travel Clinic: Travel clinics offer specialised advice, but your doctor might also provide some vaccinations. Discuss your travel plans to determine the best approach.
  • Budget for Costs: Travel vaccine costs vary. While travel insurance doesn’t cover them, some medical plans might offer reimbursement. Factor these costs into your trip budget.
  • Plan Ahead: Schedule a doctor or travel clinic visit 4-6 weeks before departure to allow time for vaccinations and boosters to take effect.
  • Keep Records: Maintain a record of your vaccinations, including type, date, and any side effects. This information is valuable for future travel and medical consultations.

Make sure you prioritise your health and safety while exploring the world. Remember, travel insurance is for unexpected medical emergencies, not pre-travel expenses like vaccinations, but some medical insurance plans do offer cover so read your policies carefully!

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance only. Consult your doctor or travel healthcare professional for personalised advice.

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With a decade of experience in medical insurance, Damon crafts solutions for nomads and global entrepreneurs. Often seen at global seminars or featured in industry publications, he’s dedicated to simplifying medical insurance for all.

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