Travel and Trip Insurance: Find the Best Policy for You

Use this comprehensive guide to learn more about travel insurance and to help you protect your next vacation.

U.S. News & World Report

Travel and Trip Insurance: Find the Best Policy for You

Best travel insurance

Travel insurance helps you protect the financial investment you made in your vacation.(Getty Images)

Planning a vacation can be fun and exciting, but there are plenty of issues that can pop up along the way. Maybe you become incredibly ill just a few days before your flight leaves, or perhaps you experience a death in the family. In either situation, it might be best if you stayed home.

Maybe you do get to go on your trip, but your luggage is lost or stolen. Or maybe you fall and break your arm climbing a steep set of stairs in the middle of your getaway.

The COVID-19 outbreak and the trip disruptions and cancellations it caused may also be on your mind. Perhaps you already canceled or rescheduled a trip because of the pandemic.

In any case, having a quality travel insurance policy in place can pay off. Generally speaking, travel insurance protects the financial investment you made in your trip.

If your losses are covered by the policy you purchased, travel insurance can kick in to reimburse you for many of your trip expenses if your vacation does not proceed as planned. Of course, you should check any policy you are considering for included coverages that can pay for medical expenses, luggage, trip cancellation and other nonrefundable expenses you incurred.

As you prepare to get a travel insurance quote so you can decide on a policy, you should gather important information, such as the names and ages of people in your party, the details of your trip (including flights and hotel stays) and the total cost you incurred for prepaid travel expenses, such as flight or cruise fares. Once you have that information in hand, you're ready to shop around.

Keep reading to learn which companies offer some of the best and most affordable travel insurance policies of 2020, as well as important details on how travel insurance works.

[Protect your trip: Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance plans for the lowest price. Get a quote.]

The Best Travel Insurance Companies

U.S. News rates the top travel insurance companies, considering expert and consumer recommendations. The Best Travel Insurance Companies are:

  • Travelex Insurance Services
  • Allianz Travel Insurance
  • Seven Corners, Inc.
  • IMG Travel Insurance
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance

The Cheapest Travel Insurance Companies

U.S. News rates the cheapest travel insurance companies based on expert and consumer recommendations, in addition to sample travel insurance policy pricing and data. The Cheapest Travel Insurance Companies are:

  • APRIL Travel Protection
  • AXA Assistance USA
  • Seven Corners, Inc.
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance
  • HTH Travel Insurance

[Protect your trip: Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance plans for the lowest price. Get a quote.]

How Does Travel Insurance Work?

Travel insurance works similarly to other types of insurance, except that travel insurance intends to cover unforeseeable events. In most cases, you will pay a flat fee for a policy that covers an individual trip and all its components – like airfare, your accommodations and any prepaid excursions. However, if you travel more than a few times per year, and especially if your trips are on the pricey side, you can also buy an annual travel insurance policy.

Benefits vary among travel insurance providers and policies, meaning some travel insurance plans cover more scenarios than others, and some offer higher coverage limits as well. For example, some travel insurance policies might only offer trip cancellation coverage worth up to $2,500 per traveler, while others offer the same benefit worth up to $100,000.

With this in mind, travel insurance works like other insurance plans in the sense that you can buy a basic level of coverage all the way up to full coverage that will reimburse you up to incredibly high limits. The choice is up to you, and you should decide based on how much coverage you think you need to feel secure.

However, you should keep in mind that travel insurance cannot cover every potential situation you encounter before you travel or during a trip. In fact, many travel insurance policies list an array of exclusions you should know about like war or preexisting circumstances, and even more policies offer named peril coverage that only covers the situations specifically outlined in your policy.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance was created to cover unforeseen events – as in, events that interrupt or doom your trip that you could not possibly plan for. However, the exact inclusions of travel insurance policies can vary widely, so you will want to read over any policy you are considering to understand the types of coverage you have.

With that in mind, travel insurance typically covers situations such as:

  • Trip cancellation required for unforeseen events like a death in the family or severe weather that prevents you from reaching your destination
  • Emergency medical situations
  • Emergency medical transportation and evacuation
  • Costs incurred as the result of trip delays
  • Lost or stolen luggage
  • Canceled travel due to terrorist attacks

As mentioned previously, you can buy different levels of travel insurance that provide more coverage or less coverage in any of these categories. However, in most cases, you will want to tweak the amount of coverage you buy based on how much you paid for your trip.

For example, if you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation that costs $30,000 and lasts three weeks, you would want to purchase a more robust travel insurance policy. That way, you could apply for reimbursement for some components of your vacation if various situations play out that might ruin your trip or prevent it from moving forward in the first place.

What Doesn't Travel Insurance Cover?

Different travel insurance companies list different exclusions for their policies, so this is another situation where you will want to read all the fine print. However, most travel insurance policies refrain from covering preexisting conditions of any kind. If you are sick with a terminal illness when you purchase a travel insurance policy, for example, you cannot use that illness as a basis to cancel your trip. The same is true if you wait to buy travel insurance until a named hurricane is careening toward your destination.

In addition to situations you know about ahead of time, travel insurance also typically excludes some foreseen and unforeseen events altogether. These can include:

  • War in your destination
  • Civil disorder or civil unrest
  • Participation in high-risk sports, such as skydiving, bungee jumping and heli-skiing
  • Terrorist events
  • Natural disasters
  • Pandemics
  • Nuclear reactions
  • Government restrictions on travel
  • Pollution that threatens to harm your travel plans
  • Learning to fly an aircraft

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Only you can decide if you need travel insurance, but this type of coverage is essential if you want to protect the financial investment you made by booking a trip. Without travel insurance, you will likely be in a position where you never receive any sort of refund on prepaid travel plans, including airfare, vacation rentals and prepaid tours. It is up to you to decide whether taking this chance is worth it – and whether the investment you made in your trip is worthy of paying for a travel insurance policy.

Before you pay for insurance that covers travel arrangements, it can help to tally up all the money you spent on your trip. Consider: Is this money you are willing to lose if you cannot ultimately take your vacation, or if an unforeseen event knocks your plans off track?

Travel insurance is never required, but buying a policy can make the trip-planning experience worry-free and fun, and it can put your mind at ease while you're on vacation. You hope you won't need to use your travel insurance policy, but in the worst-case scenario, you will be glad you have one.

How Much Is Travel Insurance?

The cost of travel insurance varies depending on several factors, including the age of the travelers in your group. Older people will typically have to pay more for a travel insurance policy since these travelers are more susceptible to health issues and that risk tends to increase with age.

The total cost of your trip will also help determine the cost of your travel insurance plan, since more expensive trips require higher coverage limits.

Interestingly enough, the length of your trip and the destination you are visiting typically will not affect the cost of travel insurance coverage. Further, your health may not be part of the equation either and travel insurance companies even refrain from asking health questions when you apply for a travel insurance quote. This doesn't mean that preexisting conditions will be covered, however, so you'll want to check the details.

As an example, a few sample trip insurance quotes for a married couple who are both 40 and live in New York City are below:

  • Travel insurance for an eight-day trip to Florida with a purchase price of $2,500 might run about $75 to $156.
  • Travel insurance for an eight-day trip to Mexico with a purchase price of $3,500 could cost anywhere from $102 to $216.
  • Travel insurance for an eight-day trip to the United Kingdom with a purchase price of $4,500 may range from $130 to $266.

[Protect your trip: Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance plans for the lowest price. Get a quote.]

When Should I Buy Travel Insurance?

Many times, you are given the option to purchase travel insurance when you book your airfare, hotel or resort stay, or vacation package. Travel insurance and travel protection are frequently offered as add-ons for your trip, meaning you can pay for your vacation and some level of travel insurance at the same time.

However, many people choose to wait to buy travel insurance until after their entire vacation is booked and paid for. This helps travelers tally up all the underlying costs associated with a trip, and then choose their travel insurance provider and the level of coverage they want.

The best time to buy travel insurance is normally within a few weeks of booking your trip, however, since you may qualify for lower pricing if you book early. Keep in mind, some travel insurance providers allow you to purchase plans until the day before you depart.

Where Do I Get Travel Insurance?

You can easily research and purchase travel insurance online these days. Some consumers prefer to shop around with a specific provider, such as Allianz or World Nomads, but you can also shop and compare policies with a travel insurance platform like Squaremouth or InsureMyTrip.

With Squaremouth, you can enter your trip details and compare more than 90 travel insurance plans from more than 20 providers.

InsureMyTrip works similarly, letting you shop around and compare plans from more than 20 travel insurance providers in one place. InsureMyTrip also offers several guarantees, including a Best Price Guarantee, a Best Plan Guarantee and a Money-Back Guarantee that promises a full refund if you decide you no longer need the plan you purchased.

[Protect your trip: Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance plans for the lowest price. Get a quote.]

Types of Travel Insurance


There are many different types of travel and trip insurance consumers will want to evaluate before deciding on the policy that's right for them. A few of the most popular travel insurance coverage options include:

Trip cancellation, interruption and delay insurance
Trip cancellation coverage can help you get reimbursement for prepaid travel expenses, such as your airfare and cruise fare, if your trip is ultimately canceled for a covered reason. Trip interruption insurance, on the other hand, kicks in to reimburse you if your trip is derailed after it starts. For instance, if you arrived in your destination and became gravely ill, it would cover the cost if you had to cut your trip short.

Trip delay insurance can help you qualify for reimbursement of any unexpected expenses you incur (think: lodging, transportation and food) in the event your trip is delayed for reasons beyond your control, such as your flight being canceled and rebooked for the next day. You will want to save your receipts in order to substantiate your claim if you have this coverage.

Lost bags or personal belongings

Coverage for lost or stolen bags can come in handy if your luggage is lost by your airline, or if your luggage is delayed so long that you have to buy clothing and toiletries for your trip.

This type of coverage can kick in to cover the cost to replace lost or stolen items you brought on your trip. It can also provide coverage for the baggage itself. It's even possible that your travel insurance policy will pay for your flight home if damages caused to your residence and your belongings while you're away force you to return home immediately.

Travel medical insurance

If you find yourself sick or injured while you are on vacation, emergency medical coverage can pay for your medical expenses. With that in mind, however, you will need to find out whether the travel medical insurance you buy is primary or secondary. Where a primary policy can be used right away to cover medical bills incurred while you travel, secondary coverage only provides reimbursement after you have exhausted other medical policies you have.

You will also need to know how travel medical coverage you purchase deals with any preexisting conditions you have, including whether you will have any coverage for preexisting conditions at all.

Evacuation insurance

Imagine you break your leg while on the side of a mountain in some far-flung land without quality healthcare. Not only would you need travel medical insurance coverage in that case, but you would also need coverage for the exorbitant expense involved in getting you off the side of a mountain and flying you home where you can receive appropriate medical care.

Evacuation coverage can come in handy if you need it, but you will want to make sure any coverage you buy comes with incredibly high limits. According to Squaremouth, emergency evacuation can easily cost $25,000 in North America and up to $50,000 in Europe, so the site typically suggests customers buy policies with $50,000 to $100,000 in emergency evacuation coverage.

Cancel for any reason insurance

Cancel for any reason travel insurance works exactly how it sounds. This type of coverage lets you cancel your trip for any reason you want – even if your reason is that you simply decided you no longer want to go.

Cancel for any reason coverage is typically an add-on you can purchase to go along with other types of travel insurance. For that reason, you will pay more to have this kind of coverage added to your policy.

Also note that this type of coverage typically only reimburses 50% to 75% of your prepaid travel expenses. For this reason, you will want to make sure you know exactly how much reimbursement you could qualify for before you pay extra for a cancel for any reason policy.

Credit card travel insurance

Credit card travel insurance can include most types of travel insurance other than cancel for any reason coverage, and some of the best credit cards for travel insurance include several different types of insurance as part of their cardholder benefits. For example, it is not uncommon to find credit cards that include trip cancellation and interruption coverage, trip delay insurance, lost or delayed baggage coverage, travel accident insurance and more. Cards that offer this coverage include popular options like the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card and The Platinum Card from American Express.

Note that owning a credit card with travel insurance protections is not enough for your coverage to count: To take advantage of credit card travel insurance, you must pay for prepaid travel expenses like your airfare, hotel stay or cruise with that specific credit card. Also note that credit cards with travel insurance have their own list of exclusions to watch out for. Many also require cardholders to pay an annual fee.

How Do I Make a Travel Insurance Claim?

When you need to file a travel insurance claim, you should plan on having to explain to your provider what happened to your trip and why you think your policy applies. If you planned to go on a Caribbean cruise, but your husband fell gravely ill the night before you were set to depart, you would need to explain that situation to your travel insurance company. Information you should share with your provider include the details of why you're making a claim, who was involved and the exact circumstances of your loss.

Documentation is important, and your travel insurance provider will ask for proof of what happened. Required documentation for travel insurance typically includes any proof of a delay, receipts, copies of medical bills and more.

Most travel insurance companies let you file a claim using an online form, but you may also be able to file a claim by phone or via fax. Some travel insurance providers, such as Allianz and Travel Insured International, offer their own mobile apps you can use to buy policies and upload information or documents that substantiate your claim. In any case, you will need to provide the company with proof of your claim and the circumstances that caused it.

If your claim is initially denied, you may also need to answer some questions or submit some additional information that can highlight why you do, in fact, qualify.

Whatever you do, be honest and forthcoming with all the information in your claim. Also be willing to provide more information or answer any questions when asked.

[Protect your trip: Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance plans for the lowest price. Get a quote.]

How Long Should Travel Insurance Claims Take to Process?

Travel insurance claims typically take four to six weeks to process once you file with your insurance company.

The longer you take to file your travel insurance claim after a loss, the longer you will be waiting for reimbursement. Also note that, with many travel insurance providers, there is a time limit on how long you can submit claims after a trip. For example, with Allianz Travel Insurance, World Nomads Travel Insurance and Travelex Insurance Services, you have 90 days from the date of your loss to file a claim.

You may be able to expedite the claim if you provide all the required information upfront, whereas the process could drag on longer than it needs to if you delay filing a claim or the company has to follow up with you to get more information.

Is Travel Insurance Worth the Money?

Paying a premium for travel insurance might feel like setting money on fire if you never file a claim, but travel insurance could easily save you tens of thousands of dollars if the worst-case scenario plays out. Only you can decide if travel insurance is worth the additional cost, but for many, the peace of mind they have in return is well worth the price alone.

Before you buy travel insurance, make sure to tally up the total amount of money you spent on the trip in question. That way, you can decide whether insuring your trip will be worth the financial cost. Also check whether any cancellation policies apply, and if it may be possible to get some of your money back from providers if you need to cancel your trip ahead of time. If you booked an Airbnb that lets you cancel without a penalty up to 24 hours before check-in, for example, then you may not need travel insurance. The same is true if you booked airfare with a generous cancellation and rebooking policy that lets you swap your flight at the last minute. If your entire trip is nonrefundable, on the other hand, then the likelihood of you needing a policy is higher.

Also, ask yourself whether you feel at risk in terms of your trip being delayed or interrupted, and whether you feel losing your luggage or any items you plan to bring along on your vacation would create financial or emotional hardship.

If you are taking a quick road trip a few states away, it is possible travel insurance isn't worth the money. But if you are flying to a far-flung destination and spending considerable sums of money on a dream trip, you will probably want some protection.

[Protect your trip: Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance plans for the lowest price. Get a quote.]

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