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Best Travel Insurance Companies

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Written by Matthew Brodsky

Read our guide to learn about the best travel insurance company for you. Travel insurance can cover flight cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, trip extension or interruptions and medical emergencies while you’re away from home. We compared different types of travel insurance plans, policies and coverage options.

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What does travel insurance cover?

Trip cancellations or interruptions

Sometimes, situations beyond your control impact your travel plans. Weather, family tragedies, illness, work and other issues can cause you to cancel, postpone or interrupt your trip.

  • Weather or worker delays: Some travel insurance policies offer reimbursement for trips interrupted by worker strikes or the weather.
  • Sickness, injury or death: An illness, injury or death of you or a loved one might require a trip cancellation. With the right coverage it won't cost the policyholder financially.
  • Work-related interruptions: If work interferes with your ability to travel, you can cancel and get your money back with the right coverage. The same is true if you become unemployed and can’t afford to take your planned trip.

Medical expenses

Many health insurance policies will not pay for services incurred outside of their coverage network. This can leave travelers facing huge medical bills in the event of an issue during a trip. Travel insurance can make up the difference.

  • Emergency evacuation: If you suffer from a medical emergency during a trip, your travel insurance may cover medical and ambulance (and even evacuation by plane) expenses.
  • Dental coverage: A dental emergency may not be immediately life threatening, but it can certainly ruin a vacation. Be sure that your dental coverage protects you where you’re visiting, or consider including it in your travel insurance plan.
  • Pre-existing condition coverage: A pre-existing condition can act up at any time, but many travel insurance policies will not cover them. Ask about pre-existing conditions since premium policies may include this type of coverage.

Flight cancellations

Anything that interrupts a trip, including missing your connecting flight, could leave you struggling to meet back up with your travel group. Travel insurance picks up the bill for transportation services that you need to keep you on schedule.

  • Canceled flight coverage: If your flight is canceled and it causes you to miss a connection, travel insurance can pay for a hotel stay and a new flight as soon as it's available.
  • Easy logistics: When you miss a flight, it can throw your entire itinerary out of whack, but your travel insurance company should be able to do the work to put you back on track.
  • Interruption coverage: If something happens at home, and you need to cut your trip short, travel insurance can help cover the cost of return fare and reimburse the unused portion of your trip.

Lost or stolen baggage or belongings

Lost, delayed or damaged luggage can start any trip on the wrong foot. It can also cost an arm and a leg to buy an emergency wardrobe for a vacation.

  • Clothing allowance: If your luggage is lost, be sure to ask your insurer about a clothing allowance to help you get through your vacation and replace your missing items.
  • Property replacement: It’s not uncommon for people to travel with valuable items like jewelry or personal care products. Be sure to discuss them with your insurance company before traveling to ensure they're covered for replacement.
  • Luggage delays: If your luggage is permanently lost, your travel insurance would probably replace it, but if it's only delayed, you might need to deal with some interim needs. Insurance could pay for an outfit or two and for toiletries, just to hold you over until your luggage can be delivered.

Trip extensions

Typically, travel insurance covers a specific trip, which is arranged in advance. If you decide to extend your vacation, you might lose your travel insurance. With that in mind, consider the following:

  • Ask about policy extensions: It’s always a good idea to know ahead of time whether you can also extend your travel insurance coverage if you decide on the fly to extend your trip.
  • Long-term and short-term policies: Many travel insurance policies only cover a short time-frame, sometimes only a week or two. If you plan to travel more extensively, be sure to ask about long-term options.
  • Limited coverage on extensions: Some travel insurance may allow for limited extensions with little to no extra cost. They may not include all premium services, however, so it's important to find out what is and is not covered on an extension.
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How much is travel insurance?

The dollar amount you pay for travel insurance will depend on the total cost of your trip and the level of coverage you want. In general, expect to pay 4–10 percent of your total pre-paid trip cost. So if your trip costs $5,000, put aside $200–$500 for trip insurance. This might seem like a lot upfront, but when you consider how much travel insurance can save you if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly, it can end up saving you a lot of money.

What are the different types of travel insurance plans?

Single trip travel insurance

These plans are for a single trip and offer no extensions. Any additional coverage must be negotiated separately.

Annual travel insurance

For the frequent traveler, an annual insurance policy goes into effect for every trip taken during the year. There may be some limitations on coverage.

Long term travel insurance

For those planning to travel for a year or more, long-term plans are a smart option.

Group travel insurance

Like many products, buying several policies at once may offer a group discount. Typically, these are sold to groups of 10 or more.

International travel insurance

Some policies only cover domestic travel, so for the world traveler, it's important to make sure insurance coverage crosses international boundaries.

Travel insurance FAQ

Is travel insurance worth getting?

Travel insurance is worth getting in certain situations, such as when you’re:

  • Traveling internationally
  • Traveling to a remote location
  • Taking a trip that could be affected by weather, like a cruise

Many features of travel, including plane tickets, are nonrefundable. In addition, you may be affected by illness or accidents that lead to emergency hospital bills. Insurance helps take this burden off your wallet if your plans change or other incidents occur.

How do I choose travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers a number of scenarios, from medical emergencies to trip cancellations. Choosing the right policy can ease your mind and save you money at the same time.

  1. The first thing you should do is see what your current health insurance covers. If you have an active policy, it might cover emergencies while overseas.
  2. Next, find out how long and often you are traveling. Insurance companies categorize insurance policies by length and number of trips.
  3. Finally, decide the coverage you want. Do you want your travel insurance to cover trip cancellations or more significant issues, like medical emergencies, that may happen along the way?

Like purchasing any other type of insurance, you can get quotes from companies directly or from insurance brokers that help you compare policies and choose what works best for you. The price of travel insurance should be less than 10% of the trip’s cost.

When should you buy travel insurance?

Experts recommend you purchase travel insurance at least 15 days before your first deposit for a trip. Some companies let you buy up to the day of departure, but buying early may provide bonus coverage.

Can you buy travel insurance after booking a flight?

You can buy travel insurance after booking a flight. However, the earlier you purchase a policy, the more likely you have coverage for cancellations or other issues. Some plans allow features booked later to be added, so the whole trip does not need to be set in stone when you first purchase insurance.

Can I buy travel insurance when abroad?

You cannot buy travel insurance once already on the trip. The cutoff is midnight on the day of the trip.

Is it cheaper to get travel insurance as a couple?

Travel insurance may be less expensive to purchase as a couple, but the coverage may be divided and therefore limited between the two people. One person’s health conditions may also inflate the price for both. Couples can purchase two individual plans if they choose.

Does my medical insurance cover international travel?

Some medical insurance policies cover emergency care while you're abroad, but you typically need to pay out of pocket and submit a claim for reimbursement when you return. Make sure you discuss what’s covered while you're traveling internationally; every insurance provider has a different standard for what’s considered a medical emergency. Original Medicare does not cover you during travel abroad; however, Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans may have coverage.

How does trip insurance work?

Trip insurance covers unexpected, uncontrollable events. Depending on your coverage, it can range from hotel and rental car cancellations in the face of emergencies or medical bills for injuries incurred on a trip.

Most travel insurance is simple. Once you choose a policy, you pay an upfront fee to the insurance provider before your trip. If an incident covered by your policy occurs, you submit claims with evidence to the provider for approval after the trip. If the claim is approved, the company reimburses the cost.

Although this is generally how travel insurance works, some companies may have a different system. While comparing travel insurance, make sure to discuss how the individual policies work.

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