If you like to travel often, or even travel overseas once, travel insurance can be as valuable as the best travel gear.
Travel insurance can offset costs for medical emergencies and non-refundable trip cancellations and delays.
You can buy travel insurance when booking a cheap flight. But a standalone policy can provide better coverage from the best travel insurance companies.
In This Article
- Top Travel Insurance Companies
- Reasons Why Travel Insurance May Be Worth It
- What Travel Insurance Doesn’t Cover
- What to Think About When Choosing an Insurance Company
- Do People Actually Buy Travel Insurance?
- What About my Credit Card?
- Does my U.S.-Based Health Insurance Work Overseas?
- What to Do After You Get Travel Insurance and Before Your Trip
- Is Travel Insurance for You?
- When to Get Travel Insurance
- When to Avoid Travel Insurance
Top Travel Insurance Companies
The companies mentioned in this list consistently rank highly in travel insurance lists across the web, with A.M. Best ratings and have glowing reviews by real customers.
Most insurance companies offer different plan packages depending on how much coverage you’d like.
The cost examples below were taken from each insurance company’s lowest-tiered pricing package. If you want at least $50,000 in medical cost coverage, you’d need to choose a higher plan.
Cost examples are based on a 30-year-old California resident who is traveling for 14 days to Mexico with a $3,000 trip cost. (Benefits and cost may vary by state.)
1. AXA Assistance USA
AXA Assistance USA is one of the largest financial companies and is part of AXA Group. They offer three comprehensive plans and consistently maintain a 4.5 out of 5 stars, with over 3,200 reviews on InsureMyTrip.com.
Example of coverage that costs $71:
- Medical: $25,000
- Medevac: $100,000
- Trip cancellation: 100% of the cost
- Lost luggage: $750
- Travel delay: $100/day or $500 maximum
Allianz is a popular choice for getting travel insurance and is one of the more established insurance companies from this list.
The company consistently gets great reviews from consumers, including a 4.0-star rating from over 800 customers on ConsumerAffairs.com. They also offer pre-existing medical condition coverage.
Example of coverage that costs $105:
- Trip cancellation: $3,000
- Medical: $10,000
- Lost luggage: $500
- Travel delay: $300
The OneTrip Basic travel insurance policy also includes $50,000 in emergency transport coverage.
If you travel frequently or travel for work, Allianz offers annual travel insurance policies that cover multiple trips.
3. World Nomads
World Nomads is an Australian-based travel insurance company recommended by Lonely Planet. Nationwide underwrites the World Nomads travel insurance policies.
I first heard about World Nomads from one of my favorite travel bloggers, NomadicMatt.com.
World Nomads is best for backpackers or digital nomads who are always on the move.
You can even extend coverage while you’re traveling.
Example of coverage that costs $70:
- Medical: $100,000
- Trip cancellation: $2,500
- Trip delay: $500
- Baggage delay: $150/day and $750 per trip
- Emergency evacuation: $300,000
4. AIG Travel Guard
AIG Travel Guard offers three tiers of plan packages including Essential, Preferred and Deluxe.
Essential is the least expensive option while Preferred is the most popular.
Preferred is great for international travelers or families. Deluxe is the most expensive plan but can be worth the investment to protect an expensive trip.
All three plans give you 24/7 travel assistance. Pre-existing conditions can also be covered with each plan, if you purchase coverage in a qualifying timeframe.
Example of coverage that costs $61:
- Medical: $15,000 ($500 for dental)
- Trip cancellation: Up to 100%
- Trip delay: $500 ($100/day)
5. Amex Assurance
Amex Assurance is owned by American Express and offers exceptional, award-winning customer service.
If you’re an American Express customer and purchase your ticket with your Amex card, you receive basic automatic travel insurance for local and international travel.
Unlike other travel insurance companies listed, you don’t have to go with any of their existing packages. You can customize and build your own plan, based on your travel needs.
To keep it simple, you can choose one of the four existing coverage plans.
Example of coverage that costs $59:
- Medical: Up to $5,000 ($750 for dental)
- Trip cancellation and interruption: Up to $1,000 per event
- Emergency evacuation: Up to $5,000
- Baggage loss: Up to $250
6. IMG Global
IMG Global is known for offering specific plans for those who are addicted to thrilling adventures while on vacation. Plans are catered to remote or exotic locations.
Their TravelInsuredLX plan offers coverage for adventure or extreme sports and even has a $10,000 search and rescue allowance.
They don’t offer coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
Example of coverage that costs $149:
- Medical: $500,000
- Medevac: Up to $1 million
- Baggage loss: Up to $2,500
- Trip cancellation: 100% of the trip cost
- Missed connection: $500 per person
Travelex is great for families because they insure kids under the age of 17 for free. Other travel insurance companies may charge a fee for children.
Example of coverage that costs $87:
- Medical: $15,000 (dental $500)
- Medevac: $100,000 maximum
- Baggage loss: $500
- Trip delay: up to $500
- Trip cancellation: 100% of the trip cost
TripAssure is now a part of the Trip Mate brand, which is huge in the travel insurance world. Since they are a part of such a large brand, they’re able to offer a variety of insurance products.
They even offer worldwide travel services such as concierge.
Example of coverage that costs $98:
- Medical: $50,000
- Medevac: $500,000
- Baggage loss: $1,500
- Trip interruption: 125% of trip cost insured (up to $50,000)
- Travel delay: $750
Pre-existing medical conditions can qualify when you purchase coverage within 15 days of your initial trip deposit.
Reasons Why Travel Insurance May Be Worth It
Travel insurance companies offer more than just health coverage. The plans are often comprehensive and involve a number of travel-related emergencies.
The following scenarios are generally what travel insurance may cover, but keep in mind you’d have to make sure it’s included in the package you purchase.
The best reasons to get travel insurance include:
- Health emergencies
- Accidents or injuries
- Lost luggage
- Stolen luggage
- Flight delays
- Property damage
- Bad weather that causes flight cancellations
- You changed your mind and don’t feel like going on your trip
- Illness preventing travel
- You missed your connecting flight
- You got laid off or fired from your job and can’t afford to go on the trip anymore
- A wrecked rental car
In addition to choosing a policy that has the best coverage options, purchase travel insurance as soon as possible to your initial trip deposit.
Each day you wait may mean you qualify for fewer coverage reasons.
What Travel Insurance Doesn’t Cover
In order to set yourself with the right expectations, it’s important to understand what travel insurance doesn’t cover. Scour through the details with a fine-toothed comb.
Look out for the following:
- Pre-existing conditions: This is different for all insurance companies and some may or may not accept a pre-existing medical condition.
- Extreme travel: High-risk sports like skydiving, scuba, and bungee jumping (although some plans offer coverage for this as an optional add-on)
- Medical tourism: This is traveling to a foreign country to receive a medical treatment
Travel insurance will not cover hurricane-related cancellations if you purchase coverage after the hurricane is officially named.
Also, travel insurance most likely won’t cover novel coronavirus-related trip cancellations and delays. The virus is considered a known event since March 11, 2020.
What to Think About When Choosing an Insurance Company
When looking through the list of the best travel insurance companies the most important thing to understand is what’s covered in the package.
Tip: When looking at medical coverage, consider one that’s at least $50,000, which may be enough to get you through at least one week in the hospital.
Consider the following:
- Specific dollar amounts of what is covered
- Your travel destination activities (i.e. will you be active and doing a lot of outdoor activities where the chances of getting hurt are higher?)
Here’s what a well-rounded plan would cover:
- Emergency medical treatment and care
- Medical evacuation (also known as medevac)
- Trip cancellation/interruption reimbursement
- Lost luggage
- Worldwide assistance 24/7
Do People Actually Buy Travel Insurance?
I had talked to a few of my seasoned traveler friends and they seemed to have very polarizing views on this topic.
Some said it’s a must, especially if your adventures involve outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, or mountain climbing.
Others said they just rely on their health insurance from home since some healthcare providers will cover some overseas emergency costs.
For other travel-related mishaps like lost luggage, they referred to their travel rewards credit cards as their “insurance,” since many credit card companies cover these issues.
What About my Credit Card?
Credit cards offer you some protection from things like lost baggage, trip cancellation due to bad weather, and rental car insurance. In order to be covered, you must use the credit card when you purchase the ticket.
So, if you travel a lot, should you purchase travel insurance or just rely on your credit card?
Scott Keyes, CEO of ScottsCheapFlights.com believes your credit is sufficient for travel-related issues such as flight cancellations.
He explained, “The insurance automatically provided by your credit card (assuming your credit card carries travel insurance) is more than plenty. Paying for additional insurance is rarely, if ever, useful, and can [actually] negate your ability to receive compensation from your credit card.”
However, your credit cards may not be sufficient enough to cover medical costs.
If you’re booking a pricey trip, read your credit card trip protection benefits guide to know what’s covered and what’s not.
Standalone travel insurance is cheap and can give peace of mind when your credit card declines benefits claims.
Does my U.S.-Based Health Insurance Work Overseas?
I’m a Kaiser member and called to find out about overseas coverage. The customer service rep said only the initial emergency trip to the hospital would be covered.
In the event I needed any type of follow-up treatments, I wouldn’t qualify. I’d have to return back home to receive them. They basically only cover the initial emergency cost and trip to the hospital.
This actually made me feel a lot better, should an emergency occur overseas. I thought travel insurance would be a great way to bridge the gap between complete coverage and what Kaiser offered.
When you call, these are relevant scenarios to ask about:
- An emergency trip to the hospital
- Hospital stays
- Follow-up treatments and medication
Even if you don’t get travel insurance, be sure to have proper documentation with you when you travel.
Bring copies of your health insurance and note any important customer service numbers you can call when you’re overseas. If you require prescription medication, make sure to have the proper paperwork for that.
Not all health insurance plans cover international medical treatment and medical evacuation. If traveling overseas, consider getting travel insurance for the medical benefits.
Does Dental Insurance Work Overseas?
You might also get travel insurance with dental benefits.
Dental insurance may only cover US-based dentists but not treatments overseas. Your emergency treatment may be treated as an out-of-network claim or have more rigid reimbursement procedures.
What to Do After You Get Travel Insurance and Before Your Trip
As with any insurance, it’s sometimes difficult to understand complicated insurance jargon, and it can be confusing.
There’s a reason why there are insurance reps who are happy to answer your questions.
Here are tips on what to do before the trip in case you experience a medical illness or injury:
- Take photos of all your valuables (cameras, phone, passport)
- Document your illness as soon as it happens and call your insurance company
- Call the 24/7 customer service number as soon as the injury or emergency occurs
Is Travel Insurance for You?
As you can see from the list of travel insurance companies listed, the amount of medical coverage varies. This means you’ll have to prioritize what’s most important to you and find a company that offers the best price.
As Keyes suggested, contact customer service and ask about your travel benefits. When you call, ask about any potential travel benefits you may miss out on, if you do get travel insurance.
Note that this is only if you use a travel credit card.
So did I ever end up getting travel insurance? I decided I would be OK without it for small trips. But I will strongly consider getting travel insurance when I go snowboarding overseas.
If you tend to travel frequently, travel medical insurance might be right for you. It’s great to have peace of mind in case you experience an accident or happen to miss a flight.
When to Get Travel Insurance
Buying travel insurance can be worth it for these reasons:
- Traveling overseas
- Have an expensive, non-refundable trip
- Want medical treatment and emergency evacuation coverage
- Checking expensive luggage and personal equipment
- Credit card benefits don’t cover most travel costs
When to Avoid Travel Insurance
Travel insurance may not be worth the cost in these cases:
- Only traveling in the United States
- Health insurance covers your destination
- Small non-refundable trip cost your can afford to lose
- Flexible cancellation policy
- Not participating in high-risk sports or activities
Travel insurance provides peace of mind when your trip plans unexpectedly change or you have a medical emergency overseas.
Make sure you review the cancellation policies for the airline and lodging providers first to avoid buying unnecessary insurance.