To find the best travel insurance, we looked at 22 of the nation’s top providers. Our mission: find the ones that offer primary medical coverage, generous limits, few exclusions, and top-notch customer service. The cost will depend on you, your trip, and who’s coming with — which is why it's important to compare quotes from multiple providers. Our four top picks are a great place to start.

The 4 Best Travel Insurance Companies

Best for Families
Travelex Insurance Services
Pros
Financially stable
Solid coverage and upgrade options
Great customer service
Cons
Basic plan offers limited coverage
Not always the best deal

Why we chose it

Thorough coverage

Travelex’s Travel Select Plan has all the makings of a great travel insurance policy. It offers $50K of coverage for medical treatment and an impressive $500K for medical evacuation. If you purchase your plan within 21 days of the initial trip deposit, the policy will also offer coverage for losses due to a pre-existing medical condition (normally excluded in most plans).

Aside from medical coverage, the plan covers everything from missed connections to baggage delays. We are particular fans of the free coverage for kids under 18, which makes the plan an excellent option for families.

Coverage upgrades

The standard coverage from the Travel Select plan is thorough, but we really like how Travelex packages its optional coverage too: à la carte upgrades that you can add to your existing coverage. The coverage upgrades include popular options such as coverage for adventure or “extreme” sports and the ability to cancel for any reason.

The company also offers a medical upgrade that gives you an additional $50K for standard medical coverage for a total of 100K — a nice inclusion for those who want a little extra security.

Financial strength

Travelex policies are underwritten by Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance which as an A++ rating from A.M. Best. Put simply, this means Travelex is one of the most financially stable travel insurance providers on the market, and you won’t have to worry about the company’s ability to pay your claim.

Great customer service

Travelex offers some of the best customer service as well. Our phone call was answered quickly, and the rep we spoke to was knowledgeable, friendly, and didn’t push us for personal data until it was appropriate — a refreshing change of pace. If anything goes wrong on your trip, the company’s 24/7 emergency assistance ensures you’ll be able to contact a Travelex rep at any time for support as well.

Points to consider

Limited basic plan

While the Travel Select plan offers impressive coverage, Travelex’s basic plan did not meet our base requirements for travel insurance providers. For starters, the Travel Basic plan caps emergency medical coverage at $15K which is far below the recommended minimum. It also does not offer options for “extreme” activities or a Cancel for Any Reason add-on. To be fair, the basic plan may be an acceptable match for shorter domestic trips, but we feel confident the Travel Select plan is the way to go.

Its best plan is also the most expensive

While price depends on a number of variables including your location, travel destination, and trip length, it is worth noting that the Travel Select plan is Travelex’s most expensive. In other words, there is a possibility that you can find another provider that offers more thorough coverage such as $100K of medical coverage for cheaper. This isn’t guaranteed, but shopping around may lead you to a better deal elsewhere.

Best for Solo Travelers
John Hancock
John Hancock
Pros
Straightforward contracts
Generous coverge
Excellent customer service
Cons
No free coverage for kids
No coverage for “extreme” sports or activities

Why we chose it

Straightforward contracts

John Hancock offers an impressively straightforward and easy to read contract. When explaining coverage for trip interruptions due to a stolen passport the contract clearly states it will cover “a documented theft of passports or visas. Documented means that you have reported the theft to the local authorities.” The contract isn’t an entertaining read, but we like that it lays out the policy as simply as possible and offers clarifications along the way so we know exactly what to expect from our coverage.

Generous coverage

John Hancock offers all the standard coverage you would expect from a travel insurer including trip cancellation reimbursement and 24/7 assistance. You even get up to $150 per day for meals and other expenses if your flight is delayed by three hours as opposed to the five to twelve hours of other companies we compared. We were equally impressed by the medical coverage — the Bronze plan (the cheapest) offers $50K for medical treatments and $250K for medical evacuation. Upgrade to the Silver or Gold and the amounts increase. The company even offers $750 for dental (a full $250 more than competitors like Travelex).

Excellent customer service

We were also impressed by John Hancock’s world-class service. John Hancock’s reps were knowledgeable, friendly, patient, and warm, and knew the coverage backward and forward. Better still, it took less than a minute for the company to answer our call which made us feel confident that, if we had to call in an emergency, we’d be in good hands.

It bears noting that John Hancock’s customer support (their sales and claims departments) is actually managed by Seven Corners — another insurance company that didn’t quite make our top picks. Even so, we feel John Hancock’s policies and the customer representatives make a great pairing.

Points to consider

You’ll have to purchase a separate policy for your kids

We were disappointed to see that John Hancock does not offer free coverage for children under 18. That means you will have to pay extra to insure your kids which may end up being quite expensive. If you’re taking a family trip and want to save some cash, we suggest comparing quotes with providers such as Travelex, Allianz, and IMG which all include kids for free.

No coverage for hazardous sports or activities

If adventurous activities like rock climbing, skydiving, or caving are on your itinerary, John Hancock won’t be the best choice. The company does not offer coverage for injuries due to “extreme” sports and activities. For those who enjoy these activities, we recommend getting quotes from providers who offer the optional coverage like Travelex or IMG. But for those who want to take it easy, John Hancock is still a great choice.

Best for Thrill-Seekers
IMG
Pros
LX plan is tailored about extreme sports
Decent family plan
Convenient customer support options
Cons
Long wait times for trip and baggage delay reimbursement
Fewer customization options

Why we chose it

Coverage tailored around adventurous activities

IMG leads the pack when it comes to offering plans for adventurers. Specifically designed for trips to remote or exotic locations, the iTravelInsured LX plan offers coverage for adventure or “extreme” sports and activities as well as $10K of coverage for search and rescue. Adventurous but naturally hazardous activities such as rock climbing or scuba diving can put you at risk of an expensive injury or getting stranded. We like that IMG offers a plan that can give adventurers peace of mind.

Generous medical coverage

With a $500K medical coverage limit, you also won’t have to worry about footing a large bill in the event of any illness or injury — coverage for adventure sports and activities is included in the amount. In addition, a $1M medical evacuation limit ensures you can make it back home safely and affordably in case you need additional medical care.

Convenient customer service options

Like our other providers, IMG earned high marks for its customer service. Phone calls were answered promptly, and the reps were patient, polite, and helpful. However, the company also offers a Live Chat option on its website which was incredibly helpful while we were comparing plans.

The only other company from our picks to offer chat was John Hancock, but its chat option was a separate window that was a little more difficult to keep track of. IMG’s chat box stays connected to the bottom of your screen and is minimizable for easy access when you need it.

Points to consider

Long trip and baggage delay requirements

IMG has some of the longest time requirements before you can claim reimbursement for trip or baggage delays. The LX plan requires you to wait 6 hours for trip delays and 12 hours for baggage delays while the SE plan requires 12 for both. The Travel Lite plan is even worse at 12 hours for trip delays and 24 hours for baggage. By comparison, other providers only require three to five hours — making this inconvenience difficult to ignore.

Its other plans aren't as inclusive

While we like how IMG designs its plans to satisfy the needs of specific travelers, we miss having the upgrade options of providers like Travelex. For example, we were disappointed that we couldn’t add coverage for adventure sports or the ability to cancel for any reason to the SE Plan. But all around solid coverage makes IMG worth consideration if you’re an adventurer or planning a family trip.

Best for Long Trips
Allianz Global Assistance
Pros
Covers trips up to 365 days in length
Offers annual plans for frequent travelers
Improved customer service
Cons
Fewer customization options
Annual plans don’t cover kids for free

Why we chose it

Coverage for long trips

If you’re planning a trip longer than six months, Allianz is one of your best options. Most providers (except for Travelex) limit their coverage to three months, but Allianz will insure trips up to one year in length — a great match for long vacations, backpackers, or those studying abroad. The plan we recommend is the OneTrip Premier Plan (formerly the Classic with Trip+), which meets our travel insurance requirements and covers kids under 17 for long family excursions.

Multi-trip plans

For those who travel frequently, Allianz also offers annual plans that will provide continuous coverage for international or domestic trips over the course of a year. You’ll have to go with the pricier AllTrips Executive Plan or higher to receive reliable coverage, but the annual fee is worth it. The one time costs average around a couple hundred dollars which is more convenient and far less expensive than signing up for a new travel insurance policy for each of your trips.

Improved customer service

The first time we reviewed travel companies nearly a year ago, our phone experience with Allianz customer service was mediocre at best: We were on hold for over five minutes, and our rep seemed to know less about the plans than we did.

However, times have changed and our most recent experience with Allianz was much better. Our call was answered in about half the time and our rep was fairly knowledgeable. Full disclosure: Our other picks are still noticeably better, but we appreciate that Allianz stepped up its game.

Points to consider

Add-on coverage is lacking

Allianz is flexible when it comes to the length of your trips, but that flexibility does not extend to its coverage policies. We were disappointed to see that Allianz lacked add-ons such as the popular and helpful “cancel for any reason” option. We also didn’t see add on-coverage for “extreme” sports or activities, which we feel is a bit of an oversight. For long and easygoing vacations, Allianz is a solid bet, but more adventurous travelers or those with rapidly changing commitments will want to look elsewhere.

No coverage for children in annual plans

Allianz does not offer free coverage for children in any of its annual plans which means families that travel frequently will have to purchase separate policies for their kids. The biggest strength of Allianz is its ability to cover long trips or frequent travelers, so this exclusion is strange. In any case, it’s still one of the few providers that will offer free coverage to kids for trips over six months.

Guide to Travel Insurance

How to choose a travel insurance provider

Look for the five major coverage options

As we mentioned before, there are five major coverage options that every travel insurance policy should offer. In simple terms those coverage options and their definitions include:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption coverage reimburses you for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses such as flights and hotels in the event you need to cancel your trip or cut it short.
  • Baggage/personal item loss or delay coverage reimburses you for lost, stolen, or damaged bags and items or covers the cost of clothing, toiletries, and other essentials if baggage is delayed.
  • Medical care covers medical treatment due to accidents or injuries as we describe above. However, it does not include injuries caused by “extreme” activities by default.
  • Medical evacuation covers the cost for medical treatment and transport to a treatment center or medically staffed transport to a hospital in the US.
  • 24/7 worldwide assistance offers extra security by ensuring that a travel insurance agent will be accessible and ready to assist you in any emergency

Read the fine print and ask questions

Every insurance plan comes with something called the Policy Certificate that lists all acceptable coverage scenarios. If it’s not on the list, and you didn’t buy the option, it’s not covered. For that reason, it’s vital that you read the certificate before purchasing the policy (or at least in the first 10 days when most insurers will let you cancel for a full refund). Depending on where you’re headed, some policies offer better coverage than others, particularly if you plan on participating in “extreme” activities or there’s been civil unrest in the region.

In any case, if you have any questions, be sure to ask. A good travel insurance provider should have knowledgeable reps who can clarify any misunderstandings. All of our top picks had reps who were up to the task.

Compare quotes

Even though cost is often the main factor when choosing a travel insurance provider, we didn’t compare premiums. There are just too many variables for us to reliably say which company will give you the best price. Company A could have better rates for your family’s trip to Canada than Company B, but Company C might be cheapest for your Australian rock-climbing sojourn. For more information about what affects trip cost, check out our review of the best cheap travel insurance companies.

Purchase travel insurance early

Three important coverage options are only available for a limited time after you start planning your trip, since they’re designed to protect against things that can happen before you depart (the typical window is 10–14 days, although some companies allow around 20).

The waiver for pre-existing medical conditions exclusion is the most important; it stops the insurance company from using your previous health history to deny a medical claim. With the waiver, you only have to prove that you were medically fit to travel on the day you bought the policy for your claim to be covered. Without it, your claim could be denied as long as there was evidence of the issue in the two to six months prior.

The other two time-sensitive options are known as “cancel for work reasons” and “cancel for any reason”. Each lets you cancel for reasons beyond the standard ones — most often a medical emergency or severe weather.

Keep your assistance card on you when you travel

Megan Freedman, Executive Director at the US Travel Insurance Association advises travelers to be aware of the 24-hour travel assistance services provided by every plan: “It’s really important for travelers to keep that contact info handy.” The wallet-sized card you get from your travel insurer can be useful in both emergencies (like if you lose your passport) and non-emergencies (like if you just want a quick way of getting tickets to the opera).

Travel Insurance FAQs

Is travel insurance worth it?

If you are taking an international trip, having travel insurance for medical treatment or evacuation is highly recommended since your health insurance may not apply when you are traveling abroad. But even when not traveling abroad, insuring big ticket trips ($5,000) or traveling frequently, travel insurance can prevent heavy financial losses due to unforeseen circumstances like a sudden trip cancellation. As for short or cheap domestic trips, travel insurance is likely unnecessary — coverage for baggage and delays aren’t may not be worth the cost.

How much does travel insurance cost?

In general, you should expect your policy to cost between 4–10 percent of your total trip cost. The main factors that determine premiums are trip cost and length, the age of the travelers (older people are more expensive to insure), and any options you select (things like extreme sports or rental car coverage). To find the best price for your trip, we recommend comparing quotes from each of our top picks.

Does travel insurance count as health insurance?

Travel insurance is not a replacement for health insurance. Many travel insurance policies place a heavy emphasis on medical coverage, because it is one of the most expensive travel risks. But it will not cover a visit to your doctor for a check-up. In addition to the medical coverage, travel insurance will protect you from other travel risks like trip cancellations or lost luggage.

Won’t my credit card travel benefits be enough?

Not really. Although some credit cards come with a travel insurance benefit, they aren’t substitutes for comprehensive travel insurance. For one, there’s usually an annual coverage limit of $1,500–$2,500, and a very limited number of covered reasons for cancellation or delay. More importantly, no credit card provides medical treatment/evacuation coverage abroad.

How do I file a claim?

When it comes time to file a claim, you will want to review your policy to ensure your claim will be honored and then call your travel insurance company as soon as possible (many allow you to file online as well). Your travel insurance company will provide directions on the steps you need to take to receive payment. After filing, it normally takes 1-2 months until the claim is resolved.

What helps is if you keep detailed records of your travel in the form of receipts and getting invoices, bills, and even causes of delay in writing. Doing so ensures your travel insurance company can’t reject a claim due to a lack of proof.

The Best Travel Insurance: Summed Up

Travelex
John Hancock
IMG
Allianz
The Best
For families
For solo travelers
For thrill-seekers
For long trips
Recommend plans
Travel Select
Bronze, Silver, Gold
iTravelInsured LX
OneTrip Premier, AllTrips Executive
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A++
A
A
A
Extreme sports coverage
Cancel for any reason option
✔*
Free coverage for kids
✔†
✔‡

* Except for residents of New York
† Under 18
‡ Under 17, only on the OneTrip plan

Our Travel Insurance Reviews

The travel insurance company you choose depends on your personal preference and needs. We addressed a few of the most common specialized travel insurance needs in the following reviews: