The Best International Travel Insurance

When planning a trip abroad, finding the best international travel insurance is as important as booking the perfect hotel. Since U.S. insurance rarely travels out of the country with you, you’ll want to find a policy with substantial medical coverage to get you through any emergency, along with travel insurance basics like reimbursement for lost baggage and trip cancellation.

If you’re taking a trip with kids, we recommend the Travelex Select plan, which covers kids under 18 at no additional cost. They just have to be traveling an adult family member (not exclusively a parent). In addition to that nice perk, Travelex provides comprehensive coverage at every level and reimbursement for 100% of the trip cost if you have to unexpectedly cancel.

If you're not traveling with kids, all three of John Hancock’s plans had what we were looking for in an international travel insurance policy: generous coverage limits in even its cheapest plans, plenty of optional add-ons, and the best customer service of any provider we tested. The only downside is that kids aren’t included for free, so it’s a better choice for solo travelers or couples.

For more unique types of trips, look into IMG and Allianz. IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan has coverage targeted towards very specific travelers: adventurers going to remote and hard-to-reach locations. It includes $1 million in emergency evacuation, along with $10K for search and rescue and $50K for non-emergency evacuation, enough for just about any situation. With its coverage of trips up to 365 days in length — most companies topped out around three months — we liked Allianz’s Classic Plan with Trip+ best for those spending a semester (or two) abroad.

Our Picks for the Best International Travel Insurance

Best For
Families
Travelex Insurance Services
Travelex
Kids, teens, and adult children under 18 are all covered under one policy, with no extra fee.

Along with Allianz Classic Plan, Travelex was the only company we looked at that includes kids under 18 on its policy for free. It’s only available on the more expensive Select plan, but it’s worth the upgrade if you’re booking a trip for the whole family.

Travelex has everything we were looking for in its base international travel insurance coverage: $50K for medical expenses, $500K for emergency evacuation, and reimbursement for 100% of the trip cost up to $50,000 if its cancelled for an approved reason. The company also offers coverage across the board for the more minor areas: Trip delays, missed connections, and lost baggage are all included with generous limits.

Aside from those core features, Travelex has a ton of customizable upgrades that allow you to increase your coverage limits at nearly every level. Want a little more peace of mind? You can easily double both your medical and evacuation limits. Going on a rock climbing tour of South America? Travelex has an adventure sports package for just that. Most importantly, it offers a “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade that covers 75% of your total trip costs (as long as you purchase your policy within 21 days of your initial trip deposit).

Travelex’s customer service is on point, too. Our emails were answered within about four hours, and it only took a minute or two to get through to an actual person on the phone. The reps we spoke to had an impressive knowledge of their policies, the differences between them, and which one would be right for all the hypothetical trips we threw at them.

Best For
Solo Travelers
John Hancock
John Hancock
John Hancock matches comprehensive coverage with friendly, knowledge customer support.

If you’re not traveling with kids, John Hancock’s plans have coverage that’s as comprehensive as anything we looked at. And if you end up needing to file a claim, John Hancock’s customer service agents were the most knowledgeable and friendly of any we spoke with.

John Hancock’s cheapest option, the Bronze plan, reimburses you for $50K in medical (the same as Allianz’s highest level plan), $250K in emergency evacuation, and 100% of the trip cost if you’re forced to cancel for an approved reason.

Aside from those key areas, we were impressed by its coverage for things like lost baggage and missed connections. Where a lot of companies observe stingy requirements before they pay out on those things, John Hancock was reasonable at every turn. For example, you can get reimbursed for expenses like food and hotels after only three hours of a delay, where providers like Trawick International only covered this benefit if you’re delayed 12 hours or more.

After its impressive benefit limits, John Hancock stands out for its excellent customer service department. Our emails and phone calls were answered within seconds every time, and we were connected with someone who clearly knew what they were talking about. We never felt like John Hancock’s agents were pushing us towards a sale or reading off a script; every rep we spoke with seemed genuinely invested in helping us find the right policy for our trip. If we had to choose one travel insurance company to call in an emergency, John Hancock would be it.

The only bone we could find to pick with John Hancock is that it's the only one of our picks that doesn’t cover kids for free — they’ll be treated as additional travelers subject to their own premiums. But if you’re traveling solo or with other adults, this is a great place to start looking.

Best For
Adventurers
IMG
IMG
Each level of protection covers adventure sports like scuba diving excursions, helicopters rides, and moped rentals.

While we would opt for Travelex or John Hancock for most international travelers, IMG did stand out for one specific type of trip. If you’re going on an adventure to an exotic and far-flung location, IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan beefs up conventional travel insurance in a few important categories.

The more difficult it is to get to a destination, the more coverage you’re going to want once you’re there. We loved how the iTravelInsured LX plan targets its policy specifically towards those types of excursions. It starts with hefty limits at its core levels of coverage: $500K in medical expenses and $1 million in emergency evacuation, well above the other plans we looked at. Whether you’re taking a trek through the Patagonia or kayaking around Alaska, this is enough to get you through any emergency situation.

But where the iTravelInsured LX plan really sets itself apart is in its reimbursement for other evacuation scenarios. It includes $10K for search and rescue (essential for backpackers and other wilderness explorers) and another $50K for non-emergency evacuation. Because those events aren’t typically covered under emergency evacuations (reserved for things like medically staffed flights home), finding a policy that covers them is essential for anyone going into remote territory. We also loved how IMG doesn’t exclude any extreme sports or activities, so you’ll be in the clear no matter what kind of thrill you’re seeking.

There were a couple details in the fine print that we weren’t crazy about. For one, pre-existing conditions are covered, but only if you buy your insurance policy within 24 hours of your final trip payment. That was much more stringent than we saw with other providers — two or three weeks from the first trip payment seemed to be the norm. It’s an annoying feature, but as long as you’re aware of it when you buy, it shouldn’t be a huge issue. IMG also places a trip duration limit of 90 days, a number that was at the shorter end of companies we saw.

Best For
Long Trips
Allianz Global Assistance
Allianz
If you're spending a semester abroad planning a year-long tour across the global, Allianz has you covered for up to 365 days.

If you’re a recent grad taking a backpacking trip around the world or a college student studying abroad, Allianz’s Classic Plan with Trip+ is uniquely tailored to fit your trip: Policyholders can purchase coverage for trips up to a year long, with the basic benefits you’d need for most situations.

The Classic Plan with Trip+ met all of our minimum requirements: $1 million in evacuation, $50K in medical, and a waiver for pre-existing conditions within 14 days of your initial trip deposit. We were also impressed that it covers kids under 18 for free, although we still preferred Travelex for families because of its multitude of customization options.

That was our biggest issue with Allianz: Its policy is pretty cut and dry, without many add-ons available to tailor your coverage to your trip. The company does have a number of other plans, but the Classic Plan with Trip+ was the only one that met all of our minimum coverage requirements. There’s no “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade, no raising your coverage amounts, no extreme sports additions.

We also had one of our worst experiences with Allianz’s customer service. It wasn’t a nightmare by any means — everyone was perfectly pleasant — but the reps didn’t seem to know much more about their policies than we did. We could see how it might get frustrating if you had to figure out an arcane policy detail in the middle of a nerve-racking situation overseas.

Ultimately, we’d only recommend Allianz for people who are taking extended trips longer than a few months. We did have our reservations about some of the smaller details, but its most important coverages are substantial enough for almost any emergency situation. And with an A+ rating from A.M. Best, you can feel confident that any claim you make will be paid out in a timely manner.

International Travel Insurance Policy 101

The bulk of your premium costs will be based on factors out of your control — age, trip location, where you live, how long you’ll be gone — but there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not adding any unnecessary expenses to your budget.

It's best to purchase your policy soon after your first trip payment.

Travel insurance companies offer a number of incentives for purchasing your policy at the same time as your plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other trip expenses. Three of the most time-sensitive coverages are pre-existing conditions waivers, Cancel for Any Reason upgrades, and Cancel for Work Reasons upgrades.

Without a waiver for pre-existing conditions, you could end up footing the bill for any expenses related to your previous medical history. Most companies provide a pretty reasonable window in which pre-existing conditions are waived — you usually have around two or three weeks from the initial trip deposit to purchase insurance — but some are a little stingier. IMG, for example, requires that you buy your policy within 24 hours of your final trip payment to use the pre-existing conditions waiver.

The Cancel for Any Reason and Cancel for Work Reasons upgrades aren’t as critical for most people, but if you plan on purchasing them, you’ll want to make sure you do it as close to your first trip payment as possible. Like the pre-existing conditions waiver, you generally have about two or three weeks from your first deposit.

Check your current insurance and credit cards to see if you already have coverage in some areas.

A lot of international travel insurance policies promote upgrades for areas that you might already have coverage for. Things like lost property, rental car collisions, identity theft, and accidental death are features of a comprehensive policy, yet there’s often overlap with your existing insurance. For example, most homeowners and renters policies cover your property anywhere in the world, and many credit cards have rental car damage waivers that travel internationally. It’s worth double-checking your current insurance to make sure you don’t end up paying for the same coverage twice.

Your destination country won’t affect premiums as much as you think.

It’s a common misconception that where you’re travelling will have a significant impact on the cost of your travel insurance policy. In reality, the bigger factor is whether or not you’re going out of the country. International travel insurance is almost always more expensive than domestic, but whether you’re going to Sweden or Chile won’t make a huge difference. The major exception is if you’re planning a visit to a country with a travel advisory in effect. Most insurance providers won’t cover a trip to a nation with an “Avoid all travel” status from the State Department (currently Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen).

Heads up: Travel insurance won't cover trips booked with frequent flyer miles.

Since there’s no dollar value attached to these points, travel insurance providers don’t count them as insurable expenses. If you want to purchase insurance for a trip you’re taking with free miles, flights and hotel rooms book with those points won’t be considered a part of your policy. You will be able to insure any taxes or fees associated with those rewards, but that’s generally a small fraction of their overall value.

Our International Travel Insurance Review: Summed Up

International Travel Insurance The Best
Travelex
For Families
John Hancock
For Solo Travelers
IMG
For Adventurers
Allianz
For Long Trips