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Can I Purchase Secondary Travel Medical Insurance Only without a Primary Policy


I am looking to purchase travel Medical insurance for a holiday to Australia from Cambodia. The package that I am looking at has secondary in brackets besides the premium. I do not have a primary insurance provider. Can I obtain this policy and will it be legally paid out if I have to make a claim. It us considerably cheaper for these packages and everything in the Product Disclosure document applies to my situation with no mention of Primary Insurer needing to be in place.
All the information I have found on the internet states that secondary provider becomes the primary provider if there is no primary Provider, by default.
Any assistance to clarify this position would be greatly appreciated.

PS. I am aware of COB practises, I will not have 2 policies.

Posted by
265 posts

Take a look at Geo-Blue -- they offer policies in cases where someone doesn't have primary medical insurance, but it is more costly. You can get a quote on their website

Posted by
752 posts

I would ask the insurer for a copy of the actual policy you are considering. No matter what the insurance agent would say, it is the policy itself that will govern. You also need to be sure it covers your legal residency and nationality.

Posted by
11297 posts

Definitely ask the insurance carrier(s) you are considering these questions.

Their answer is the only one that matters.

Posted by
5837 posts

Secondary Travel Medical Coverage

When emergency medical coverage is secondary, the provider will
reimburse you after any other collectible benefits, such as your
primary health insurance. If your plan benefit is secondary and
benefits from primary sources have been exhausted, or your primary
health care provider will not cover you in your destination
, the
secondary benefit on your plan will act as a primary benefit.
Secondary coverage on a plan is most common.

Don’t assume that because you have a primary health coverage here in
the United States that you are limited to only secondary emergency
medical coverage on your travel insurance. You can use primary
coverage, and it may be better for your circumstance.

As others note, read the policy fine print and definition. That said, Insuremytrip notes that if your primary health card does not cover foreign travel, the trip insurance secondary acts as the primary benefit.

Posted by
11297 posts

I do not have a primary insurance provider

The not having any primary insurance, is not the same as a primary carrier exhausting its limits or having a geographic or other exclusion.
This is why I believe it is of paramount importance that OP contact the carrier(s) he is looking at for coverage and getting a determination from them how it works in his particular, and somewhat unusual, circumstance.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you everybody for your responses. I think Joe32F understood my concerns best as I have no other primary policy from any insurer or government or employment insurance. I am uninsured! This raises an interesting debate and has the potential to save travellers considerable dollars on their insurance needs.
I have frequently obtained Primary policies with considerable prices attached on my travels. In this example :
The comprehensive policies averaged around $600 for 6 months of cover no excess and coverage up to 1 million with all the required inclusions except dental or pre-existing conditions.
The Secondary policy cost is $120 for the same period with an excess of $250 and coverage up to $250,000 flexible (raised to 1 million for $60 and no excess) . This policy includes dental and covers a number of pre-existing conditions.
I believe this is adequate coverage for my trip to Australia.
Stay tuned for the answer from the insurance provider!

Posted by
4 posts

**The Response from the insurer to the following question I asked for clarification.

" Im looking to purchase travel and health insurance. I do not have primary health insurance. Can I obtain a policy which has secondary attached to it? From my research it appears that secondary becomes primary if no primary insurance is held. **

"Primary coverage will pay first, before any other collectible insurance. Secondary coverage will pay you after any other Primary collectible insurance has paid the claim and the Primary policies' limits have been exhausted. Plans with secondary coverage do not have a requirement that your primary coverage apply where you are traveling to be eligible for purchase. In most situations, you would typically be required to pay for expenses up front, then file a claim with your Primary insurance and get proof they do not cover you before you can file a claim with the Secondary insurance to be reimbursed for a covered claim.

Secondary insurance will pay up to the amount listed on the policy for a covered claim, once you can show proof you do not have coverage with your health insurance provider.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need further assistance."

A somewhat ambiguous response to my question but would lean to favour my position. I have emailed back asking directly will I be covered
Thanks Again Travellers.

Posted by
27278 posts

That reply would concern me, because it sounds as if you have to produce a denial of coverage from your primary insurance company in order for the secondary policy to pay. You do not have primary insurance, so I don't know what you will be able to submit that is acceptable to the secondary-coverage company. But I am not in the insurance business, nor am I a lawyer.

I think you need to push back and get a response that's more than a copy-and-paste job from a low-level customer-service rep.

Posted by
16507 posts

That answer is not responsive: it does not answer the question you asked. I would classify it as evasive rather than ambiguous.

I am not an insurance expert either, but here is what I understand: secondary coverage is cheaper, because it only kicks in if your primary coverage is exhausted, or does not apply. But "secondary" assumes you do have a primary insurer, which indicates your status is "insurable". If you do not have primary coverage, the company offering the secondary coverage is justified in suspecting you may be uninsurable, meaning you have a health issue that has cause primary insurers to deny coverage.

As I said, I am just applying logic here, not knowledge of insurance law. And if you live in Cambodia it gets very complicated. I am curious why, if you are self-insured in Cambodia, you want coverage for a trip to Australia?

If you actually considering the secondary, you need a direct answer to your question, in writing, from the insurer. Or just go with the primary policy to be sure. The difference in cost is small considering what the consequences could be if you get really sick or injured and need hospitalization.

Posted by
3275 posts

Definitely make it clear to the insurance company that you do NOT have any primary coverage. Without a primary policy, you may be ineligible for "secondary" coverage.