When planning a vacation or needing to travel, everyone focuses on crafting the perfect itinerary or finding the best places to stay. Though not all travelers think about getting travel insurance, the minimal costs paid for coverage are a significant benefit, especially when faced with losing hundreds or thousands of dollars due to an unexpected delay or cancellation of your trip.
Whether you’re planning a luxurious all-inclusive vacation or a simple weekend getaway, travel insurance is, in my opinion, always worth it. On average, travel insurance can cost between two and eight percent of the total cost of the trip. When you think about it, it’s not a lot of money to protect you if you need to file a claim due to an emergency, bad weather, or for personal reasons.
Recently, I was skiing at Snowbird in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the second to last day of my trip, when suddenly, the Little Cottonwood Canyon resorts went into “Interlodge” due to an avalanche. That meant nobody could leave the buildings until the danger had passed.
While our Interlodge only lasted a few hours and didn’t threaten my travel plans, Snowbird and Alta are on day five of another Interlodge period as I write this. If that had been us, we would have needed to cancel flights and rebook – and our travel insurance would have saved the day.
Travel insurance (depending on your package) covers more than a canceled or delayed trip. Insurance can protect you and your family in the event of an illness or injury while traveling, covering medical costs and if you need an emergency flight home for treatment. Over the years, I’ve held policies with many travel insurance companies to help protect my upcoming travel plans.
Based on experience, I’ve compiled a list of travel insurance benefits and the average cost, so you can decide if a travel insurance policy is worth it for your next trip.
Show Table of Contents
- TL;DR: Our Favorite Picks for Travel Insurance
- What is Travel Insurance?
- Do I Need Travel Insurance?
- What Protections Come with Travel Insurance?
- What is Not Covered by Most Travel Insurance Policies?
- Does Travel Insurance Cover COVID?
- When to Purchase Travel Insurance
- How Much Should I Expect to Pay for Travel Insurance?
- Example Costs of Travel Insurance
- How Do I Make a Claim with My Travel Insurance Company?
- How to Find a Travel Insurance Carrier
- Reasonably Priced Travel Insurance Providers
- AIG Travel Guard
- World Nomads Travel Insurance
- AXA Assistance USA
- IMG Travel Insurance
- American Express Travel Insurance
TL;DR: Our Favorite Picks for Travel Insurance
|Best Overall Travel Insurance||AIG Travel Guard|
|Best Travel Insurance for Nomads||SafetyWing|
|Best Travel Insurance for Adventures||World Nomads|
|Best Travel Insurance for Families||AXA Assistance|
|Best Budget Travel Insurance||IMG Travel Insurance|
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance provides coverage for unexpected events before or during your trip. Unexpected events can include anything that prevents you from departing for your trip, an injury or illness, delays causing missed flights, or having to fly home early for an emergency.
Travel insurance policies cover items not typically covered by credit cards or other contingencies like cancellation periods. If something occurs during your trip to cause a disruption or a need to end it early, travel insurance can help cover the costs of the losses and reimburse you for the money lost in these unexpected events.
I always recommend purchasing travel insurance when planning a trip – it’s far better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Ultimately, travel insurance helps provide peace of mind if nothing else.
See Related: Essential Travel Safety Tips for Trips
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Even if you have never needed to cancel a trip or end your vacation early, the risks of everything from minor inconveniences to serious issues can arise on any vacation.
In the past, many travelers would skip purchasing travel insurance – heck, many still do. However, more and more travelers are opting to pay a small fee for insurance instead of risking everything from the possible loss of luggage, or even their entire vacation cost. If you are wondering if you need travel insurance or if the travel insurance cost is worth it, there are a few things you should consider before deciding to decline insurance coverage.
If you have prepaid for your trip and the money is non-refundable, paying for travel insurance covers you if you cancel your reservations. Travel insurance reimburses you for reservations made when there are no options to cancel the reservation with the hotel, airline, travel company, or other vacation-related activities.
Another thing worth thinking about is protecting your health, including when you are traveling overseas. Since U.S.-based health insurance policies typically do not provide coverage outside the country, travel insurance can get you the medical treatment needed when visiting other countries. In addition, medical vacation coverage does not leave you stuck with paying high out-of-pocket costs for medical treatment for illness or injury while on vacation.
Lastly, what sort of vacation are you going on? If you’re traveling internationally to South Africa on an adrenaline junkie’s escape, yes, get yourself a comprehensive travel insurance plan. However, if you’re going on a road trip to the next state over, think about rental car damage coverage and things like optional coverage for personal belongings, but maybe forgo things like medical evacuation coverage.
What Protections Come with Travel Insurance?
Your standard travel insurance policy covers many trip-related events which can cancel, disrupt, or end a vacation. The most significant protections a typical travel insurance policy provides are trip cancellation and interruption, which give you compensation for nonrefundable reservations, including hotels, flights, and other bookings if your trip is canceled or has to end early.
See Related: How To Find The Best Health Insurance As An Expat
What is Not Covered by Most Travel Insurance Policies?
When you purchase travel insurance, you may assume it will cover every emergency or inconvenience you encounter during your trip. However, some things are not covered but are available as an add-on coverage option.
Common items not covered under standard travel insurance policies can include:
- Medical expenses for injury or illness
- Healthy pregnancies and deliveries
- Medical tourism
- Activities that involve drinking or drug use
- Lost property
- Inclement weather
- Natural disasters
- Extreme sports
- Last-minute changes to the itinerary
- Canceling the trip for any reason
- Illegal activity (if you can find me the plan that DOES cover this I’ll send you a prize)
Does Travel Insurance Cover COVID?
COVID-19 has been a concern among travelers since 2020, and with the unpredictability of spikes and new variants, it could threaten your upcoming vacation. Because of this, many people wonder if COVID-related issues are covered by their travel insurance plan. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question.
While COVID coverage has become more common in insurance packages, not all providers protect against COVID negatively impacting vacation or travel plans. However, it is best to speak with your provider and determine if it is covered under your policy and if you could upgrade to include it.
See Related: Can Tourists Get COVID Vaccine in the USA?
When to Purchase Travel Insurance
The best time to purchase travel insurance is at the same time or shortly after planning and booking your trip. You can purchase insurance coverage up to the date of departure in some instances, though I don’t waiting that long, and some companies will allow you to buy plans during your travels.
Many travel insurance carriers suggest buying travel insurance policies within 15 days of making the first deposit on your trip, which may qualify you for bonus coverages, such as coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, terrorism events, bad weather, or additional accidental death and dismemberment coverage.
Postponing the purchase of travel insurance leaves the possibility of forgetting to purchase it, especially when planning and packing for your trip. Buying coverage immediately assures you do not forget and allows you to cross one more thing off of your to-do travel list. So jump on it!
There’s also the issue of whether or not the trip really warrants insurance. If you’re taking a domestic road trip over a few hundred miles, travel insurance might not be really necessary – unless you’re booking a fancy RV and tons of excursions. If you’re going scuba diving into Belize’s Big Blue Hole or ziplining in the Philippines, travel insurance is a sensible option.
See Related: Best Family Travel Insurance Plans Affordable Plans
How Much Should I Expect to Pay for Travel Insurance?
The cost of travel insurance can vary depending upon many factors, including different options you choose to add to the policy. Travel insurance coverage costs typically exceed four to eight percent of the trip’s total cost. Several factors contribute to the cost, including:
- Trip duration
- Trip destinations
- Cost of the vacation
- Medical costs at your destination
- Access to medical facilities at your destination
- Pre-existing conditions of travelers
- Breadth of coverage
- Your age and the age of those traveling with you
- Trip coverage options
- Travel insurance package plan
- Policy maximum
- Hazardous sports or activities planned during your trip
- Additional coverage for accidental death and dismemberment coverage
- Personal liability
- Current global events such as conflicts or natural disasters
Example Costs of Travel Insurance
Below are examples of vacations of varying lengths and destinations, including the average cost for two travelers to give you an idea of how much travel insurance can cost. Prices for travel insurance coverage for these trips vary depending upon the insurance company, the age of travelers, and the coverage options chosen.
Week-Long Sightseeing Trip to London
The average cost of a week-long sightseeing tour of London from the U.S. is about $5,550 for two people, typically including fights, accommodations, and meals. On average, travel insurance for this trip will cost between $200 and $265, depending on the plan and insurance company.
Long Weekend Getaway in Minneapolis
When planning an activity-packed long weekend getaway to Minneapolis, you may spend four to five days exploring the city. If you’re flying in, this trip could cost about $2,300 for two people, including travel to the city, accommodations, and food. In addition, the average travel insurance cost for this getaway ranges between $100 and $140, depending on the plan and insurance company.
See Related: Best Minneapolis Walking Tours for History Buffs
Adventure Holiday in Costa Rica (30 days)
Doesn’t a nice long adventure vacation to Costa Rica sound amazing? There are so many exciting things to do there, and exploring only costs about $80 per day per person. With an estimated cost of $4,900 for two travelers, the average insurance costs may range between $180 and $310, depending on the plan and insurance company.
See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Costa Rica
How Do I Make a Claim with My Travel Insurance Company?
Suppose you must cancel your trip, end it early, have a medical emergency, or experience a significant inconvenience. In that case, you need to file a claim with your travel insurance company if you want to recoup some losses. Here are some travel tips to increase your chances of prompt reimbursement in the event any of these things occur during your vacation:
- Review your travel insurance terms to determine what is and is not covered
- Gather the necessary documentation to prove you qualify for reimbursement through your insurance plan
- List of medical expenses, including receipts for medicine and other medical supplies
- Add any and all supporting evidence to help your claim
- Speak with the insurance company about the current procedure for submitting a claim
- Submit your claim with all required documentation and evidence
Remember, insurance companies are in the business of not paying out, so do whatever you can to make your legitimate claim as airtight as possible!
How to Find a Travel Insurance Carrier
When shopping for travel insurance, there are tons of options to consider, including add-ons that can be included to account for your travel destination, activities, and general coverage needs.
Try some popular travel insurance comparison sites like InsureMyTrip.com, VisitorsCoverage, and TravelInsurance.com, where you can fill out a brief questionnaire about the trip and travelers for a list of the best travel insurance carriers and policies for your trip.
If you do not want to use comparison sites, visit each travel insurance carrier’s website to receive a quote or call the company for further information. When speaking with a customer service representative, you can ask questions about your upcoming travel plans and create a policy perfect for your needs.
Reasonably Priced Travel Insurance Providers
While travel insurance comparison sites can remove much of the pain of shopping around for the right company and plan, let’s take a second to cut out the middleman.
We’ve compiled this list of reasonably priced companies we’ve successfully used. Take a peek at some of our top picks for travel insurance providers who provide great coverage for a fair price – whichever company you go with, just make sure you read the fine print!
SafetyWing provides travel medical insurance ideal for remote workers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. Coverage from this travel insurance company is affordable, flexible, and easy to sign up for; you can even sign up for it once your travel has started to cover the remainder of your trip.
Typical coverage from SafetyWing includes medical and hospital coverage for adventurous activities, such as whitewater rafting, skiing, and snowboarding. Add-on insurance options also cover travel delays, trip interruption, cancellation costs, natural disasters, accidental death and dismemberment, political evacuation, emergency reunion, and other personal liabilities.
AIG Travel Guard
AIG Travel Guard is a travel insurance company with high ratings and was named the best travel insurance company of 2020 by Forbes. This company offers a comprehensive travel insurance policy, including compensation for trip interruption, travel delays, medical expenses, baggage delays, and emergency evacuations. Additionally, AIG Travel Guard offers budget travel insurance to help reduce the cost of travel insurance and provide you with the coverage needed when traveling in the country or overseas.
If anything goes wrong with your trip, AIG Travel Insurance helps you get back some (or all) of the money. Travel insurance plans through this company include Travel Guard Essential, providing a basic level of coverage; Travel Guard Preferred, a mid-level plan with higher levels of coverage; and Travel Guard Deluxe, providing the most significant benefits for travel insurance.
Additional travel insurance and add-on options are available, including 12-month coverage options covering multiple trips in a year, Pack and Go (no cancellation protection), adventure sports coverage, and medical coverage.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
World Nomads Travel Insurance offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world. The company offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
World Nomads is backed by specialist travel insurers that provide 24/7 emergency assistance, customer service, and claims support. World Nomads’ multi-lingual team is available 24/7 to connect you with medical treatment and transportation during your trip if you need medical assistance or emergency medical evacuation.
Designed by travelers, for travelers, World Nomads covers over 150 adventure sports and activities so you can explore your boundaries. World Nomads also provides useful and up-to-date travel insurance information and global travel safety advice to help you plan for your journey and navigate the risks.
Plan your trip with free destination guides, develop your travel storytelling skills and learn how you can be a more responsible traveler with World Nomads as your travel companion.
See Related: World Nomads Insurance Review: Is It Worth It?
AXA Assistance USA
AXA Assistance provides the coverage you seek for your next vacation with top-notch protection, generous medical and evacuation limits, and “cancel for any reason” upgraded coverage.
Plus, as a bonus, while traveling, AXA Assistance USA offers policyholders concierge services, including restaurant and hotel referrals and reservations, golf course information, luxury rental arrangements, and more.
When purchasing travel insurance from AXA Assistance USA, you can choose three comprehensive plans covering all travel-related emergencies, including missed flights, trip cancellations, lost luggage, injuries, illness, and more.
The three travel insurance plans available include Platinum, Silver, and Gold, each offering added coverage based on your upcoming travel protection needs.
Additionally, AXA Assistance USA offers optional add-on coverage, including rental car coverage, baggage delay, hurricane and weather, pre-existing medical coverage exclusion waiver, and “cancel for any reason” coverage. The average insurance cost from AXA Assistance USA varies by age and total trip cost.
IMG Travel Insurance
IMG Travel Insurance provides international travel insurance for less than $3 per day for their average plan, providing coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, delay, and medical coverage. This insurance company is trusted by travelers offering international trip coverage customized to their travel plans.
IMG Travel Insurance provides budget-friendly comprehensive travel plans for world travelers, including coverage for pre-existing conditions, cancellation and interruption for “any reason.” search and rescue, sports equipment rental, medical coverage, and natural disaster evacuation. Policies can be purchased for a single short trip, multiple trips, or long-term travel arrangements.
American Express Travel Insurance
American Express Travel Insurance is one of the most comprehensive travel insurance companies, providing Ultimate Travel plans, combining multiple coverage options, including medical insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, inclement weather, terrorist acts, and baggage loss. In addition, American Express offers travelers two types of insurance plans – standalone travel insurance policies and travel insurance included as a complimentary benefit on certain American Express cards.
Standalone insurance coverage provides more robust coverage than what is covered by an AmEx card, so if you need more coverage than trip cancellation or lost luggage, the standalone plan is your best option.
Supplementary insurance benefits allow you to cancel your trip for any reason and receive partial refunds of non-refundable deposits. Additional American Express Travel Insurance benefits may include car rental damage, accidental death and dismemberment, and accidental injury coverage.
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Kim Magaraci is the Managing Editor of ViaTravelers, and she’s based in southern New Jersey. She’s a minimalist traveler, hiker, and landscape photographer who spends tons of time exploring the wonders of the American West. She’s been to 32 states, tracked down BBQ in 27 of them, and has skied in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Quebec. Her favorite cities are Philadelphia, Montreal, and Portland, Maine – but really, she spends most of her travels in small towns, national parks, and national forests. When she’s not in the mountains, you’ll find her at the barn with her horse Lyla, or running agility with her dog Wilco.