Booking an international trip is an investment. With travel insurance, that investment is protected against unexpected situations during your travels that could cost money. For instance, if you get sick before a trip and can’t travel, travel insurance will reimburse you for the cost.
International travel insurance policies should include coverage for trip cancellations, emergency medical needs, delayed transportation, and lost luggage. If you’ve pre-paid for activities or transportation during your trip, getting insurance is worth the cost. If something happens that’s out of your control, you won’t have to worry about losing money.
The 6 Best International Travel Insurance Companies
- Travelex Insurance Services – Best for Families
- John Hancock – Best for Solo Travelers
- IMG – Best for Thrill Seekers
- APRIL International – Best for Group Travel
- TravelSafe Insurance – Best for Travel Flexibility
- Travel Insured – Best for Longer Trips
Travelex Insurance Services – Best for Families
- Free coverage for kids – Travelex is the best company for travelers with children, because it’s the only provider we looked at that covers kids under 18 for free. If you have a larger family, Travelex could be your most affordable option. Note that kids are only covered for free under Travelex’s Travel Select policy.
- Excellent customer support – When it comes to customer service, Travelex stands out. We were truly impressed with the company’s quick response time and knowledge of their policies. The customer service team made us feel valued and comfortable investing in a travel insurance policy.
- Customizable coverage – Travelex has many upgrades that allow you to customize your coverage. For example, the company offers adventure sports coverage, a waiver to protect your deposits if you have to cancel, and a “cancel for any reason” upgrade that covers 75% of your trip costs.
- Limited policy selection – Between Travelex’s two insurance policies, only the Travel Select plan met our coverage criteria. The cheaper policy, Travel Basic, falls short in some key areas. The emergency medical coverage maxes out at $15,000, it doesn’t offer adventure sports coverage, “cancel for any reason” coverage, or medical upgrades.
- Less impressive medical limits – Travelex offers solid medical coverage, but it doesn’t go above and beyond, like IMG. The Travel Select plan maxes out at $50,000 for medical care and $500,000 for emergency medical evacuation. But if you’re taking a relatively risk-free vacation, the lower limits won’t be an issue.
John Hancock – Best for Solo Travelers
- Strong coverage across the board – John Hancock’s Bronze, Silver and Gold policies all met or exceeded our standards. Its cheapest option, the Bronze plan, comes with $50,000 in medical, $250,000 in emergency evacuation, and 100% reimbursement of the trip cost if you’re forced to cancel for an approved reason. Limits increase from there.
- Generous policy features – We were impressed by John Hancock’s coverage for things like lost baggage and missed connections. For example, you can get reimbursed for food and hotel expenses after a delay of only three hours, whereas providers like IMG only cover this benefit if you’re delayed 12 hours or more.
- Best-in-class customer service – John Hancock’s customer service agents were hands-down the most knowledgeable and friendly of any we spoke with. Our emails and phone calls were answered within seconds every time, and we were connected with someone who knew what they were talking about, without being salesy.
- No adventure sports waiver – None of John Hancock’s policies offer a waiver for extreme or adventure sports. In fact, the company explicitly says trip costs aren’t reimbursed if your trip is cut short because of “hazardous activity.” If you plan on diving, climbing, or risk-taking in general, you’re better off with IMG or Travelex.
- Kids cost extra – Unfortunately, John Hancock doesn’t cover kids for free. Because of that, families traveling with children may find a better deal with Travelex, which includes kids on their parents’ policies. But if you’re traveling solo or with other adults, John Hancock is a great place to start looking.
IMG – Best for Thrill-Seekers
- Unique policy for adventure sports – IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan is designed for adventurous excursions. It has $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million in emergency evacuation coverage. The policy also includes $10,000 for search and rescue, and another $50,000 for non-emergency evacuation.
- Robust coverage – IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan has some nice perks. It includes “hospital of choice” coverage and coverage for sports equipment rentals at $500 per day, or up to $2,000. Additionally, it’s the only policy we saw that refunds trip costs if you cancel due to “inclement weather.”
- Cancel for any reason – We love that the iTravelInsured LX plan includes “cancel for any reason” coverage. If you plan to pay for tour guides or gear, odds are your trip will be expensive. IMG’s “cancel for any reason” coverage offers peace of mind that your deposits won’t get wasted if something comes up.
- Less customizable – The iTravelInsured LX plan comes as-is, without any room to add or subtract extra coverage options. On the plus side, it’s an incredibly well-built plan. It doesn’t lack protection in any important areas. However, that also means you can’t tinker with price by changing coverage levels.
- Generally pricier – IMG’s iTravelInsured LX policy is pricier than our other top picks — usually by a couple hundred dollars. If you’re planning an adventurous vacation, the price is worth it for the level of protection. But for tamer vacations, you can get a better deal with Travelex or John Hancock.
APRIL International – Best for Group Travel
- Group travel policy – APRIL International is the company on our list to offer a group travel policy. If you’re traveling in a group of 10 or more as part of a program or event, it might be cheaper than purchasing 10 individual policies.
- High trip delay coverage – APRIL offered some of the best trip delay coverage, with a stipend of up to $150 per day ($1,000 max) on the lowest plan. This means you could get a decent rest at a nearby hotel instead of sleeping in the airport’s plastic chairs, and APRIL would cover it.
- Low trip cost coverage – APRIL offers $20,000 in trip cost coverage, which may fall short depending on the type of trip you’re taking. This amount is adequate for solo travelers and couples. But groups and families may want to look for higher coverage limits from a provider like John Hancock.
TravelSafe – Best for Travel Flexibility
- Best missed connection coverage – Of all our top picks, TravelSafe has the highest coverage for missed connections. If you were to miss your connecting flight, you would get up to $25,000 to help you book a new one. That can help take some of the anxiety out of coordinating and syncing up your flight schedules.
- Decent free look period – We also liked TravelSafe because of the flexibility of their free look period. After signing a policy, you have 14 days before you’re unable to get a refund. That’s a good window of time, since the highest we found with other providers was 15 days and the lowest was 10.
- No itinerary change coverage – TravelSafe doesn’t advertise any itinerary change coverage. That means if you had a hiccup in your travel schedule that prevented you from participating in pre-paid activities, you’d be out of luck. If you want greater peace of mind, Travel Insured International offers coverage for itinerary changes.
Travel Insured International – Best for Longer Trips
- Coverage for itinerary changes – Of the providers we evaluated, Travel Insured offers the highest payout to cover itinerary change costs. If you have to miss out on any activities you paid for in advance, you’ll get the full amount reimbursed.
- Decent trip length coverage – A typical Travel Insured International plan covers a trip length of up to 180 days. That’s good if you’re going to be spending a lot of time abroad. The only other provider to offer a longer trip length policy is Travelex, which falls just shy of a year (364 days).
- Low AD&D coverage – We weren’t impressed with the accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage from Travel Insured. While no one wants to think about the worst case scenario, it still pays to have a policy that covers you when disaster strikes. We found that APRIL International and IMG had better AD&D coverage.
How to Find the Best International Travel Insurance
Buy sooner rather than later – Some travel insurance policies are time sensitive, so we recommend purchasing insurance at the same time as your plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other expenses.
Also, if you plan to add “cancel for any reason” or “cancel for work reasons” coverage, it’s a good idea to buy those as soon as possible, too. You never know when something might arise that conflicts with your trip.
Consider your travel companions – The best policy for you depends on your trip and who you’re traveling with. If you’re traveling with kids, choose a company like Travelex that covers children under 18 for free.
You’ll also want to take the ages of adult travelers into account. When we compared travel insurance quotes, IMG hiked its prices up much more for older travelers (ages 45 to 65), while Travelex and John Hancock tended to be a little more affordable.
Avoid paying for double coverage – Many travel insurance companies promote upgrades that overlap with coverage you already have. For example, they may offer to cover your home and belongings while you’re away, but most homeowners and renters policies already protect those things.
You may also see options like rental car insurance, but many credit cards have rental car damage waivers for international travel. Double check your current insurance policies to make sure you don’t end up paying for duplicate coverage.
How We Chose the Best International Travel Insurance Companies
Great travel insurance starts with a well-rounded policy. We only considered companies that offer coverage in the five major areas listed below, all of them essential for any international trip:
- Trip cancellation/interruption
- Emergency medical care
- Medical evacuation and repatriation
- Baggage/personal item loss or delay
- 24/7 worldwide assistance
We looked for providers with a strong financial backing and excellent customer service. The companies on our list all earned an A or higher from AM Best, which means you can count on your provider to pay their claims.
We also called and emailed these companies to evaluate their quality of service. We noted fast response times and kind, knowledgeable reps that we’d trust to be there for us.
Most U.S. health insurance policies don’t extend overseas, so a travel policy will likely be your only form of health insurance while you’re abroad.
We made sure that our top picks offer primary medical insurance, not secondary. Primary insurance essentially replaces U.S. coverage for the duration of your trip. It allows the travel insurance company to act as your sole insurer, so you can file claims directly through it without paying multiple deductibles.
We also set strict guidelines for medical expense limits. Every company on our list had to offer a policy with at least $50,000 in emergency medical care.
It’s recommended to have at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage, since most medical evacuation flights cost at least $50,000, plus the cost of personnel and supplies. We only considered companies that met or exceeded both of these limits.
From there, we combed through our finalists’ policy details, looking for the ones that go the extra mile with their coverage. We gave the highest priority to companies that offer “cancel for any reason” upgrades.
We also gave priority to providers that were specific about reimbursement percentages, versus those that were vague about the amounts. Lastly, we looked at customization options, like extreme sports coverage and pre-existing condition waivers.
How much does international travel insurance cost?
The cost of international travel insurance depends on where you’re going, how long you’re going to be abroad, how many people you’re traveling with, and extra coverage. Some insurance companies calculate rates based on a certain percentage of your trip’s total pre-paid cost.
How much travel insurance do I need?
The amount of travel insurance you need is based on the pre-paid cost of your trip and the level of risk you face. For instance, someone going on a low-risk beach vacation in the Bahamas won’t need as much coverage as someone traveling to go mountain climbing in Nepal.