The best cheap travel insurance

The best cheap travel insurance isn’t just cheap. It also has to have strong financial backing, responsive customer service, and well-rounded coverage that will truly protect you while you’re abroad. We found the four companies that meet all of these benchmarks — and offer competitive prices to boot.

How we chose the best cheap travel insurance

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 that are guaranteed to be there for you in a pinch. First, we made sure that each company on our list earned top financial strength scores from A.M. 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 reps. Great support is essential, as these reps 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:

Emergency medical care

Medical coverage is the most important part of travel insurance, as US health plans generally won’t cover you while you’re abroad. The travel industry experts we spoke with recommend a minimum of $50,000 in medical coverage (enough to cover at least a week in the hospital). We made sure that each of our finalists offer one or more plans that meet this benchmark.

Medical evacuation and repatriation

Medical evacuation is separate from medical care, but the two go hand in hand. Evacuation coverage kicks in if you need to be airlifted out of a remote location or flown back to the US in a medical transport helicopter — costs that can easily reach $50,000 to $100,000. We required companies to offer at least $100,000 evacuation coverage, covering even worst-case scenarios.

Trip cancellation or interruption

Trip interruption or cancellation coverage is likely what comes to mind when you think of travel insurance. It can reimburse up to 150 percent of the total travel expenses should your trip be cut short or cancelled for a covered reason. “Covered reasons” vary by policy, but usually include things like injury, illness, natural disaster, or cancellation by an airline or travel company.

Baggage or personal item loss/delay

With baggage loss and delay coverage, your insurer will pay out a certain pre-set amount should your belongings get lost in transit. This will allow you to purchase clothing and supplies to hold you over until delayed items arrive, or reimburse you if luggage is lost entirely.

24/7 worldwide assistance

24/7 worldwide assistance is just what it sounds like: a guarantee that your travel insurance company will be there to help, no matter where you are or what you need. Whether it’s a hospital referral, emergency transportation, help finding lost luggage, or anything else, you shouldn’t have to wonder whether your provider will be there for you in an emergency.

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. 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, Tanzania
Two Travelers: Europe
Family of Four: Canada
Family of Six: Caribbean cruise
Travelex (Travel Select Plan)
$206
$381
$154
N/A¹
John Hancock (Bronze Plan)
N/A²
$354
$256
$387
IMG (iTravelInsured LX Plan)
$310
$553
$451
$651
Allianz (One Trip Premier Plan)
N/A²
$509
$216
N/A¹
How we got our sample quotes

We set coverage limits at $50,000 for emergency medical and $100,000 for medical evacuation — the minimums recommended by our insurance experts.

The only exception was the cruise. Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site, suggests at least $100,000 medical and $250,000 evacuation coverage on cruises to cover the large costs associate with on-board care or being airlifted to a hospital.

For the solo traveler climbing Kilimanjaro, we included extreme or adventure sport coverage when available. These add-ons ensure that the traveler will be covered for emergencies or injuries sustained while participating in a dangerous sport.

We also ran each trip scenario for a few different ages: 25, 45, and 65 years old for all adult passengers. The prices shown above reflect each company’s average across all age groups.

Remember that the prices shown here are only a sample set. Your insurance price will depend on your age, total trip cost, and how much coverage you choose. To find the cheapest plan for you, you’ll have to get personalized quotes from a few different companies and compare.

Our picks for the best cheap travel insurance

Best for
Families
Travelex Insurance Services
Travelex
Well-rounded, consistently affordable coverage
Pros
Free coverage for kids
Reliably cheap policies
Customizable plans
Responsive 24/7 assistance
Cons
Limited basic plan
Lower emergency coverage

Why we chose it

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. In our tests, it was 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 sport 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 therefore 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 some of 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 actually 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.

Best for
Solo Travelers
John Hancock
John Hancock
Ample protection, excellent customer support, and reliably affordable prices
Pros
Consistently affordable
Selection of good policies
Generous coverage
Excellent customer service
Cons
Kids not included
No adventure sports coverage

Why we chose it

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 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 accident abroad, that’s exactly the kind of responsiveness we’d hope for from our travel insurance company.

Points to consider

Kids not included

Unlike Travelex and Allianz, 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.

What counts as a hazardous activity?

John Hancock defines hazardous activities as “bodily contact sports; skydiving; mountaineering where ropes or guides are normally used; hang gliding; parachuting; any race by horse, motor vehicle or motorcycle; bungee cord jumping; scuba diving, unless accompanied by a divemaster where depth does not exceed one-hundred (100) feet; spelunking or caving; or rock climbing.”

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.

Best for
Thrill-Seekers
IMG
IMG
Robust coverage for mountaineers, divers, jumpers, and more
Pros
Robust coverage
Tailored to adventure sports
Cancel for any reason
Cons
Inflexible plans
Tends to be pricier

Why we chose it

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 even covers $15 for an “overnight stay movie rental.”

This plan also has robust emergency coverage: $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, 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 special 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 levels of coverage, 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. 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
Ideal for year-round, multi-trip travelers
Pros
Multi-trip plans
Lengthy single-trip plans
Kids’ coverage is included
Cons
Lower medical limits
Limited coverage upgrades

Why we chose it

Multi-trip plans

Allianz 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 offers single-trip coverage up to one year 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 (say, an extended backpacking excursion or studying abroad) Allianz may be a great match. We’d recommend getting quotes from both Allianz and Travelex — our only two picks with coverage longer than 90 days.

Kids’ coverage is included

With Allianz’s OneTrip Premier plan, kids under 18 are included on their parents’ policy for free. This is part of the reason Allianz returned some of the cheapest quotes in our group travel scenarios — coming in a close second to Travelex for the family of four.

It’s also worth noting that children are not included on any of Allianz’s lower-tier policies (Like OneTrip Basic or OneTrip Prime), so it actually ends up being cheaper for families to choose the plan with the best coverage.

Points to consider

Lower medical limits

Allianz 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 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.

How to make sure you don't overpay for 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 so 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 (though you should definitely check first).

Choose a higher medical deductible

Just 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. Instead of restricting coverage to a handful of pre-approved scenarios (like illness or injury), they guarantee an insurance payout no matter what the circumstance was for cancellation.

However, these options mean a big 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.

Cheap travel insurance FAQs

What is the cheapest travel insurance?

Put simply, there is no single “cheapest” travel insurance company. True, Travelex and John Hancock returned the lowest quotes in our price comparison — but that won’t hold true for everyone. Prices are totally dependent on your trip, your age, and the policy you choose.

We recommend checking prices with each of our top picks before you buy; they all offer online quote tools, so it will only take a few minutes to find the best deal for your trip.

Is travel insurance worth it?

If you’re traveling abroad for an extended time, then yes. Having medical coverage will be invaluable if you fall ill or get injured in a foreign country, where your U.S. health insurance doesn’t apply. This is especially true if you’re participating in hazardous or extreme sports that have a higher risk factor.

We also recommend travel insurance for expensive trips (think $5,000 or more), where you’ll be out a fair chunk of change if your plans get unexpectedly cancelled. For domestic or shorter trips, however, travel insurance usually isn’t necessary.

How much travel insurance do I need?

The limits you select are ultimately up to you, but travel industry experts caution against skimping on coverage in order to save a few bucks. The most important place to be adequately insured is medical coverage; Megan Singh of Squaremouth.com recommends at least $50,000, which should be enough to cover a week or more in the hospital. In that same vein, Megan Freedman of the U.S. Travel Insurance Associations suggests starting with $100,000 of emergency evacuation coverage, as these costs can add up quickly.

You’ll also want to tailor your policy to your trip. For instance, someone on a mountaineering expedition should look for a policy with adventure sport coverage, whereas someone shelling out for a luxury cruise may stand to benefit from a “cancel for any reason” clause.

The best cheap travel insurance: Summed up

Travelex
John Hancock
IMG
Allianz
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
365 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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