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Last updated on Jun 25, 2020

The Best Cheap Travel Insurance

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How We Found the Best Cheap Travel Insurance

22 companies evaluated

20 hours of research

4 top picks

If you’ve ever planned a big trip, then you know how expensive it can be. For your next vacation, we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you from financial risks you might face while traveling, like losing your luggage or needing medical care.

Travel insurance is a must-have if you are planning an international trip or going to pre-pay for transportation and activities during your vacation. If you’re unable to attend a particular activity or you miss a flight, travel insurance will reimburse you for the cost.

In this guide, we evaluated the cheapest travel insurance companies to consider if you’re investing in a big vacation.

The 4 Best Cheap Travel Insurance Companies

Our top picks

  • Travelex
  • John Hancock
  • IMG
  • Allianz Global

Best for Families
Travelex Insurance Services
Travelex Insurance Services


Pros

Free coverage for kids
Reliably cheap policies
Customizable plans
Responsive 24/7 assistance

Cons

Limited basic plan
Lower emergency coverage
Poorly organized website

Why we chose it

  • Kids under age 17 are covered for free.
  • Travelex offered the cheapest policies compared to the other providers we evaluated.
  • The company offers a variety of add-on coverages, like “cancel for any reason” coverage.
  • Travelex has excellent customer service, which means you can get fast assistance while traveling.

Free coverage for kids

With Travelex’s Travel Select plan, kids under the age of 18 are included in your policy for free. This is part of the reason Travelex had such affordable quotes for our “family of four” trip scenario; it’s almost $100 less than the next closest competitor.

Since the company’s lower-tier Travel Basic plan doesn’t include kids for free, it’s actually cheaper for families shopping with Travelex to opt for better coverage. Our tests were generally around $50 less for families with kids to choose Travel Select over Travel Basic.

Reliably cheap policies

On average, Travelex was cheapest for two of the four scenarios we looked at. We were impressed by how affordable it is to enhance the company’s policies; for instance, adding the adventure sports waiver to any Travel Select package costs only $10 extra.

Coverage add-ons

We also like that Travelex policies are more customizable compared to other travel insurance companies. They start with the basics —like trip cancellation, baggage loss, medical, and emergency evacuation— then give you the option to upgrade with add-ons like rental car protection, adventure sports, or “cancel for any reason” coverage.

This flexibility means you have more control over how much coverage you purchase — and how much you’ll pay. By comparison, some companies (like IMG) sell pre-built insurance packages that cannot be altered according to your needs.

Responsive 24/7 assistance

In addition to thorough coverage, Travelex has the best customer service we’ve experienced with a travel insurance company. All of our calls and emails were answered promptly, and the company’s reps were both knowledgeable and friendly — the type of people we’d want helping us if we got caught in a sticky situation while traveling abroad.

Points to consider

Limited basic plan

Travelex offers two insurance plans: Travel Basic and Travel Select. Unfortunately, its cheapest plan, Travel Basic, didn’t meet our benchmarks for a well-rounded policy. Its medical coverage caps out at $15,000 — well below our $50,000 criteria — and it doesn’t offer adventure sport coverage or medical upgrades. In addition, kids aren’t free on the Basic plan like they are on Travel Select. On the plus side, that means it’s cheaper for families to purchase the plan with better coverage.

Lower emergency coverage

Travelex medical coverage maxes out at $50,000, and its emergency evacuation coverage caps at $500,000. While this meets our requirements for solid coverage — and will be plenty for most people — thrill-seeking travelers should look for a company with higher limits.

For instance, $50,000 of medical coverage may not cut it if you’re injured while mountaineering in a remote location. If you’re looking for better extreme sport coverage, we recommend IMG; its iTravelInsured LX plan covers $500,000 for medical care and up to $1 million in emergency evacuation costs.

Poorly organized website

The information and organization on the Travelex website is below average, in our experience.  There is a staggering amount of text, icons, colors and photos on their homepage – which was initially overwhelming. We really had to hunt to find the information we needed and this could certainly be a downfall if you value simplicity while dealing with a complicated subject like insurance.

If an emergency strikes and you need to find information on your policy, file a claim, or talk to an agent, you might want the experience to be as straightforward and stress-free as possible. If you choose to go with Travelex, we suggest getting comfortable with their website and claims process before you leave for your trip.


Best for Solo Travelers
John Hancock
John Hancock


Pros

Consistently affordable
Selection of good policies
Generous coverage
Excellent customer service

Cons

Kids not included
No adventure sports coverage

Why we chose it

  • John Hancock’s travel insurance policies are affordable and competitively priced.
  • The company offers excellent coverage, even for the most basic policies.
  • Travelers can choose from three policies that each provide a high amount of coverage.
  • John Hancock offers top-notch customer service, with friendly and helpful agents.

Consistently affordable

John Hancock matched Travelex for affordable pricing, with the cheapest average quotes for two out of four travel scenarios. Its low quotes are in part thanks to generous coverage; the company’s most basic plans meet or exceed the protections offered by our other top picks’ highest-tier options.

John Hancock’s mid-range policy, Silver, even covered the higher medical and evacuation limits recommended by experts. We’d suggest that anyone shopping around for travel insurance get a quote from this company. It’s likely to be competitive and sure to provide excellent coverage.

Selection of good policies

Unlike our other top picks, which each had one plan that fit our criteria, John Hancock offers three. Its Bronze, Silver, and Gold all met the benchmarks we set for great coverage. In fact, John Hancock’s Bronze policy (its cheapest option) starts with $50,000 of emergency medical coverage — the same as Allianz Global Assistance and Travelex’s highest level plans. It has high limits for emergency evacuation too; limits range from $250,000 to $1 million depending on your policy.

All three plans also cover trip cancellation or interruption, baggage loss, and 24/7 worldwide support, as well as extras like rental car coverage and pre-existing condition waivers. We appreciate that John Hancock guarantees solid coverage, no matter which one of its policies fits your budget.

Excellent customer service

John Hancock is the only company we reached out to that beat Travelex for customer service. The representatives we spoke to were warm, helpful, and well-informed; we could tell they knew the policies inside and out. What’s more, they picked up the phone in less than a minute. If we were stuck at the airport or injured in an ac cident abroad, that’s precisely the kind of responsiveness we’d hope for from our travel insurance company.

Points to consider

Kids not included

Unlike Travelex and Allianz Global Assistance, John Hancock does not include minors on their parents’ travel insurance policies. That means your price will go up for each child covered. The price hike isn’t extreme — generally around $50 per child in our experience — but the larger your group is, the larger your premium will be. This is why we recommend John Hancock first and foremost for solo travelers or groups of adults.

No adventure sports coverage

John Hancock does not offer a waiver for adventure sports. In fact, its policies explicitly state that trip cancellation, interruption, airline changes, delays, and missed connection coverage will be voided if you’re injured while participating in a hazardous activity.

If you plan on participating in any high-risk activities while abroad, we recommend Travelex or IMG, both of which offer waivers to cover them.

Read our full John Hancock review.


Best for Thrill Seekers
IMG

Pros

Robust coverage
Tailored to adventure sports
Cancel for any reason

Cons

Inflexible plans
Tends to be pricier

Why we chose it

  • IMG offers customizable coverage options, like “hospital of choice” and rental car damage.
  • Generous limits for emergency coverage, like medical care and medical evacuations. 
  • IMG is ideal for adventurous travelers, with its niche coverage for extreme sports.
  • The IMG iTravelInsured LX policy automatically includes “cancel for any reason” coverage.

Robust coverage

Our favorite travel insurance plan from IMG is the iTravelInsured LX, which comes with ample built-in coverage. Besides our five coverage essentials, the LX policy includes things like “hospital of choice” (allowing you to select a medical provider you’re comfortable with) and rental car damage (which costs extra with many other providers); it also covers common annoyances like baggage delays (not just missing baggage), reimbursing you $500 for a bag that hasn’t arrived after 12 hours.

This plan also has robust emergency coverage, especially helpful for travelers going to remote or exotic locations: $500,000 for medical care, up to $1 million for medical evacuation and $50,000 for a “non-medical” emergency evacuation. These limits are more generous than we saw with either Travelex or Allianz Global Assistance, although they are matched by John Hancock’s Silver and Gold plans.

Tailored to adventure sports

We dubbed IMG “best for thrill-seekers” thanks to its specialized coverage for extreme sports, plus extensive medical care and emergency evacuation coverage.

These are both crucial if you’re injured while traveling in a remote location. In that same vein, the company’s LX plan includes $10,000 for search and rescue, so you’ll be fully covered even while you’re off the grid. We also like that IMG insures up to $2,000 (or $500 per day) for sports equipment rentals — it was the only company we saw that does so.

Cancel for any reason

The other unique thing about IMG’s iTravelInsured LX policy is that it includes “cancel for any reason” coverage — an option that drove prices up by as much as 40 percent with other providers. If you’re adventuring in hard-to-reach places, chances are you’ll spend a good chunk of change to get there. In that case, it’s a good idea to protect your deposits with a more forgiving cancellation policy.

Points to consider

Inflexible plans

IMG’s policies come with pre-set coverage levels, meaning there’s not a lot of room to tinker with your coverage. The only option we saw as an add-on was a “pre-existing conditions” waiver — everything else, from medical limits to baggage protection, came built into the policy. While this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself (the iTravelInsured LX plan comes with exceptional coverage), it also means you have a little less control over policy price.

Tends to be pricier

Our sample quotes from IMG rang in higher than those from Travelex, John Hancock, or Allianz Global Assistance. This is partly because iTravelInsured LX (admittedly a deluxe plan) was the only one that met our coverage criteria. Of course, by paying more with IMG you’ll get a lot more out of your policy than you might with another company — especially if you need insurance for an adventurous (and potentially hazardous) trip.


Best for Frequent Travelers
Allianz Global Assistance
Allianz Global Assistance


Pros

Multi-trip plans
Lengthy single-trip plans
Kids’ coverage is included

Cons

Lower medical limits
Limited coverage upgrades

Why we chose it

  • Allianz Global is the only company we evaluated that offers coverage for multiple trips under one policy.
  • The company offers single-trip coverage for up to 180 days.
  • Kids that are 17 and younger are covered for free under the OneTrip Premier plan, which makes Allianz Global an affordable option for traveling families

Multi-trip plans

Allianz Global Assistance is our only top pick that offers annual, multi-trip plans to cover all your travels under a single policy. This is ideal if you frequently travel for business or have multiple vacations planned in a year. Keep in mind that the only annual plan to meet our coverage requirements is AllTrips Executive, its top-tier option. Still, costs averaged around a few hundred dollars — which is much cheaper than buying a new policy for every trip.

Lengthy single-trip plans

In addition to annual plans, Allianz Global Assistance offers single-trip coverage up to 180 days in length. This is much more generous than companies like John Hancock and IMG, whose policies max out at 90 days.

If you’re planning any trip longer than three months, Allianz Global Assistance may be a great match. We’d recommend getting quotes from both Allianz Global Assistance and Travelex — our only two picks with coverage longer than 90 days.

Kids’ coverage is included

With the Allianz Global Assistance OneTrip Premier plan, kids age 17 and under are included on their parents’ policy for free. This is part of the reason why Allianz Global Assistance returned some of the cheapest quotes in our group travel scenarios — coming in a close second to Travelex for four families.

It’s also worth noting that children are not included in Allianz Global Assistance’s lower-tier policies, so it actually ends up being cheaper for families to choose the plan with the best coverage.

Points to consider

Lower medical limits

Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance comes with low medical limits compared to other companies. Its most robust plan, OneTrip Premier, maxes out at $50,000 for emergency medical coverage — the same level offered by John Hancock’s most basic policy. While $50,000 will be adequate for many trips, it may not provide enough protection for people participating in adventurous or hazardous activities.

Limited coverage upgrades

Allianz Global Assistance lacks some of the coverage add-ons that we appreciated from other providers. Most notably, it doesn’t offer “cancel for any reason” coverage, a popular option that greatly expands the scope of what your insurance will reimburse. The company is also missing a waiver for extreme or adventure sports, so travelers participating in those activities are better off looking for a policy with Travelex or IMG.

Read our full Allianz Global Assistance review.

How to shop for cheap travel insurance

  • Insure prepaid, non-refundable costs

If you’re opting for cancellation coverage, make sure to only include prepaid, non-refundable deposits in your overall trip cost. The higher your trip’s value, the more your insurance will cost — so there’s no sense including charges that you’ll be able to recoup without insurance, like refundable rentals or hotel reservations with a lenient cancellation policy.

  • Don’t pay for double coverage

Before purchasing travel insurance, make sure the policy doesn’t duplicate something you’re already covered for. For example, many homeowners insurance policies insure your belongings even when you’re away from home, meaning they duplicate the lost/stolen baggage coverage in comprehensive travel insurance. Likewise, your auto insurance or credit card might cover you for rental car damage in another country.

  • Choose a higher medical deductible

Like health insurance, medical travel insurance includes a deductible that you must pay out of pocket before your provider will chip in. The higher your deductible, the less you’ll pay for coverage — so bumping that number up can help you save. Keep in mind, though, that the difference might only be a few bucks. In that case, paying a little extra on your policy is worth it for the added peace of mind.

  • Skip spendy upgrades

Two travel insurance options — “cancel for any reason “ and “cancel for work reasons” — greatly expand the scope of your insurance. They guarantee an insurance payout no matter what the circumstance was for cancellation instead of restricting coverage to a handful of pre-approved scenarios.

However, these options mean a significant price hike; “cancel for any reason” in particular can add up to 40 percent to your overall cost. If you’re looking to insure your trip on the cheap, it’s best to skip these catch-all clauses.

Quality before cost

First things first: You should never pick a travel insurance company based on price alone. The bargain policies often cut cost by skimping on coverage — and it makes no sense to pay less for a policy that won’t cover you if your bags get stolen, a hurricane cancels your tour, or you’re injured on a hike.

Before looking at prices, we evaluated travel insurance companies on their quality of coverage and service. We’re confident that all of our top picks will be affordable and have your back, no matter what.

Reliability

We started with 22 of the nation’s top, third-party travel insurance providers, then narrowed in on the most reputable companies guaranteed to be there for you in a pinch. We made sure that each company on our list earned top financial strength scores from AM Best, an independent rating agency that focuses on the insurance industry.

A rating of “A-” or higher means that your insurer can pay out on any claim you might make, no matter how large. We also looked for outstanding customer service, calling each company to test the knowledge and helpfulness of their representatives. Great support is essential, as these representatives will be your first point of contact in an emergency.

Essential coverage options

Along with strong financial backing and excellent customer service, we made sure our top picks offer well-rounded coverage. It’s up to you to choose the type and amount of coverage that’s right for your trip — but your insurer needs to make the most important options available. Here’s what we looked for:

Quote Analysis

After parsing through policy options and coverage limits, we settled on four travel insurance companies with the best offerings: Travelex, John Hancock, IMG and Allianz Global Assistance. But which one is the cheapest? To find out, we requested quotes for four scenarios that reflect a variety of trip styles and travelers.

On average, Travelex and John Hancock came back with the cheapest policies. But remember, it’s not about cost alone. Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for better coverage.

For instance, IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan is more expensive than Travelex’s Travel Select, but it’s a better choice for an adventure trip, as it includes robust coverage for hazardous sports. You can read more about what makes each company unique below.


Solo Traveler: Mount Kilimanjaro, TanzaniaTwo Travelers: EuropeFamily of Four: CanadaFamily of Six: Caribbean cruise
Travelex (Travel Select Plan)$201$350$132$290
John Hancock (Bronze Plan)$346 $222$148$358
IMG (iTravelInsured LX Plan)$290$525$443$650
Allianz Global Assistance (One Trip Premier Plan)$414$450$250$320

Factors evaluated include the providers financial strength as indicated by organizations such as AM Best and Standard & Poors, customer service ratings and support, as well as average premiums.

Cheap Travel Insurance FAQ

The Best Cheap Travel Insurance: Summed Up

Travelex
John Hancock
IMG
Allianz Global Assistance
The Best
For Families
For Solo Travelers
For Thrill-Seekers
For Frequent Travelers
Recommended plan
Travel Select
Bronze, Silver, or Gold
iTravelInsured LX
One Trip Premier
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A++
A
A
A+
Max trip length
364 days
90 days
90 days
180 days
24/7 worldwide assistance
Free coverage for kids under 18
Adventure sports coverage
Review period
15 days
14 days
10 days
10 days

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About the Authors

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth Rivelli Contributing Writer

Elizabeth Rivelli is a Rhode Island-based copywriter and content marketing consultant. She has expertise writing about home, auto and business insurance, and has been published in widely-read publications, including the Simple Dollar, Bankrate and Decision Data. Elizabeth holds a BA in Communications from Northeastern University in Boston.