The Best International Travel Insurance
How We Found the Best International Travel Insurance
22 companies evaluated
15 hours of research
4 top picks
The Best International Travel Insurance
The best international travel insurance pairs broad coverage with a strong financial backing and excellent customer service. It also offers generous medical coverage, as travel insurance will be your main or only form of health insurance while abroad.
So which one of these international travel insurance companies is best for you? It all comes down to pricing and specialty coverage. Cost depends on you and your trip, so you’ll have to compare quotes to find the best deal. Depending on your vacation, you may want to consider add-ons; like adventure sports coverage or a pre-existing condition waiver. Our top picks offer something for everyone.
How We Chose the Best International Travel Insurance
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
Strong company credentials
The next step in choosing your travel insurance policy is to look for a reputable provider. That means two things: strong financial backing and excellent customer service. We started by verifying that each company on our list earned an “A” or higher from A.M. Best, an independent agency that rates insurers’ financial strength. A stamp of approval from this company means you can count on your provider to pay out on claims of any size.
We also checked in on customer support channels, calling and emailing these companies to evaluate their quality of service. We looked for fast response times and kind, knowledgeable reps that we’d trust to be there for us in a pinch. Each of our top picks was easy to get ahold of and responded promptly — although Travelex and John Hancock stood out for having especially patient and helpful representatives.
Primary medical coverage
Most U.S. insurance policies don’t extend overseas — so a travel policy will likely be your only form of health insurance while you’re abroad. That means it needs to be especially robust.
First, 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 them and will never have to pay multiple deductibles.
We also set strict guidelines for medical expense limits. To start, every company on our list had to offer a policy with at least $50,000 emergency medical care. “We find that for most types of travel, $50K in medical seems to be the sweet spot,” Stan Sandberg, Co-Founder of TravelInsurance.com, told us. It should be enough to cover at least a week in the hospital.
Yvette McQueen MD, an emergency physician specializing in travel wellness, recommends at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage. She explains: “Most medical evacuation flights start at $50,000, and it also needs to cover 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. This add-on reimburses pre-paid trip costs — usually up to 75% — if you need to cancel for any situation that’s not a “covered reason.” After that, we looked for policies with the most room for customization. Options like extreme sports coverage, pre-existing condition waivers, and free coverage for kids bumped our winners up to the top.
The 4 Best International Travel Insurance Companies
- Travelex Insurance Services -
Best for Families
- John Hancock -
Best for Solo Travelers
- IMG -
Best for Thrill-Seekers
- Allianz Global Assistance -
Best for Frequent Travelers
Why we chose it
Free coverage for kids
Travelex is our go-to recommendation for travelers with children, mainly because anyone under 18 is covered on your policy for free. This makes the company extra affordable for families; the larger the better. Other companies, like John Hancock and IMG, charge extra for every person regardless of age. When we compared quotes, those providers generally added around $50 per child — which can add up pretty quickly if you have a large family.
Note that kids are only covered for free under Travelex’s Travel Select policy, our recommended plan. Travelers that opt for the company’s cheaper policy, Travel Basic, will have to pay an additional fee for each child.
Excellent customer support
When it comes to customer service, Travelex stands apart. We were truly impressed with the company’s responsiveness: All our emails were answered within four hours, and phone calls in only a minute or two. On top of that, the reps we spoke to were clearly knowledgeable. It didn’t seem like they were reading straight from the policy brochure (a sense we got when speaking to some other providers). Since your travel insurance company will be your first point of contact while abroad, great service is crucial. It’s doubly important if you’ve got kids in tow, which can make even a small travel hitch feel downright urgent.
Aside from its core features, Travelex has a ton of upgrades that allow you to increase your coverage limits at nearly every level. Going on a rock climbing tour of South America? Travelex has an adventure sports package for just that. Worried about a pre-existing condition? Travelex offers a waiver to protect your deposits if you have to cancel. And for a little more peace of mind, the company provides 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 the initial trip deposit).
Points to consider
Limited policy selection
Between Travelex’s two insurance policies, only the Travel Select plan met our coverage criteria. The company’s cheaper policy, Travel Basic, falls short in some key areas. First, its emergency medical coverage maxes out at $15,000 — missing our $50,000 benchmark by a long shot. Travel Basic doesn’t offer adventure sports coverage, "cancel for any reason" coverage, or medical upgrades, either. Its protections are much less robust. Unfortunately, this means we don’t recommend Travelex’s more affordable policy.
Less impressive medical limits
While the Travelex offers solid medical coverage, it doesn’t go above and beyond like some other companies. The Travel Select plan maxes out at $50,000 for medical care (our lowest allowance) and $500,000 for emergency medical evacuation. By comparison, our favorite policy from IMG covers up to $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million for emergency evacuation. If you’re taking a relatively risk-free vacation — like beach lounging or city touring — then Travelex’s lower limits won’t be an issue. More adventurous travelers will prefer a company with higher medical coverage, like IMG or John Hancock.
Why we chose it
Strong coverage across the board
All three of John Hancock’s policies — Bronze, Silver, and Gold — met or exceeded our standards for great travel insurance. Its 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. Limits only go up from there. This gives customers a variety of good options to choose from based on their coverage needs and price range.
Generous policy features
We were also impressed by John Hancock’s coverage for things like lost baggage and missed connections. Many companies observe stingy requirements before they’ll pay out on those things, but 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.
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. In addition, 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.
Points to consider
No adventure sports waiver
Though all three of John Hancock’s policies passed muster, we were disappointed that none of them offer a waiver for extreme or adventure sports. In fact, the company is fairly explicit that trip costs won’t be reimbursed if your trip is cut short because of “hazardous activity.” If you plan on diving, climbing, jumping, or risk-taking in any other manner, you’ll be better off with IMG or Travelex. Both companies offer optional adventure sports coverage.
Kids cost extra
Unfortunately, John Hancock doesn’t cover kids for free. They’ll be treated as additional travelers subject to their own premiums. Families traveling with children may find a better deal on coverage with Travelex or Allianz, both of which include kids on their parents’ policies. But if you’re traveling solo or with other adults, John Hancock is a great place to start looking.
Why we chose it
Unique policy for adventure sports
The more difficult it is to get to a destination, the more coverage you’re going to want once you’re there. IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan targets is designed specifically for those types of excursions. It starts with generous emergency coverage: $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million in emergency evacuation, which is well above the other plans we looked at.
ITravelInsured LX also includes $10,000 for search and rescue (essential for backpackers and other wilderness explorers) and another $50,000 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.
Besides the five core coverages we looked for, IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan has some nice perks built in. For instance, it’s our only top pick that includes “hospital of choice” coverage, so you can choose a healthcare provider you’re comfortable with if you need care while abroad.
It also covers sports equipment rental at $500 per day or up to $2,000, an important safeguard for anyone renting expensive adventure gear (SCUBA equipment, mountaineering kits, and so on). Finally, this is the only policy we saw that refunds trip costs if you cancel due to “inclement weather” — so you won’t have to go through with your ski trip in a heat wave.
Cancel for any reason
We also love that the iTravelInsured LX plan includes "cancel for any reason" coverage, an add-on that almost doubled policy prices with some other providers. If you’re booking transportation to a remote spot and shelling out for tour guides or adventure gear, odds are your trip will be decently expensive. IMG’s "cancel for any reason" coverage offers a little extra peace of mind that your trip deposits won’t go to waste if something comes up.
Points to consider
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.
IMG’s iTravelInsured LX policy is pricier than coverage from our other top picks — usually by a couple hundred dollars. If you’re planning a thrill-filled trip in a far-flung location, the price hike is absolutely worth it: Protections offered by the LX plan are unparalleled. But for tamer vacations, it’s likely overkill. Non-extreme travelers can find a more affordable policy with Travelex or John Hancock.
Why we chose it
Single- and multi-trip plans
Allianz will insure single trips up to 365 days in length, which is incredibly generous compared to IMG and John Hancock’s 90-day time limit. This makes it a great option for backpackers or students abroad. On top of that, Allianz offers multi-trip plans. These are a form of year-round insurance that cover all your trips under one policy (and with only one premium payment). We recommend it to anyone that frequently travels, whether on vacation or for business. A multi-trip plan is much more economical than purchasing a new policy each time.
Impressive evacuation coverage
OneTrip Premier automatically covers up to $1,000,000 for emergency evacuation — on par with IMG’s Travel LX plan. We appreciate this inclusion, especially considering that fact that Allianz writes policies up to one year in length. An extended trip might take you to faraway places, and it’s reassuring to know that Allianz will foot the rescue bill if something goes awry.
Children included for free
Allianz is one of two companies we found, along with Travelex, that includes children on their parents’ travel insurance policies for free. This makes the OneTrip Premier plan an affordable option for families. In our experience, it’s even cheaper for travelers with children to insure through Allianz than John Hancock (which was the budget option in most other scenarios).
Points to consider
Limited medical coverage
Allianz’s emergency medical coverage maxes out at $50,000, with no option to upgrade. Granted, this is the amount we looked for — it will be enough coverage for the majority of trips. But if you’re a risk-taker or have any extreme sports planned for your vacation, you may prefer a company that offers a little more protection. We suggest IMG or John Hancock.
Fewer coverage options
The OneTrip Premier plan is pretty cut and dry, without many add-ons available to tailor your coverage to your trip. There’s no "cancel for any reason" upgrade, no raising your coverage amounts, and no extreme sports waiver for adventurous travelers. And though the company offers a number of other policies, none of them met our criteria for solid coverage. That means Allianz customers are fairly limited in their options.
How to find the best international travel insurance for you
Buy sooner rather than later
For the most complete coverage, we recommend purchasing travel insurance at the same time as your plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other travel expenses. This is because some policy options are time sensitive.
For example: Without a pre-existing conditions waiver, you could end up footing the bill if you have to cancel due to an ongoing medical condition. Many companies will let you purchase this waiver within two or three weeks of the final trip deposit, but some are stingier. IMG, for one, requires that you buy it within 24 hours of the final trip payment to be protected.
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, and it won’t do you any good to purchase insurance after the fact.
Consider your travel companions
The best policy for you depends on your trip and who you’re vacationing with. The first thing to consider is children. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s best to choose a company that includes children under 18 free of charge. Both Travelex and Allianz have this allowance. You’re likely to save money by choosing one of these over John Hancock or IMG, which charge extra for each additional traveler, no matter their age.
You’ll also want to take the ages of adult travelers into account. Age is always a factor when it comes to cost, but we’ve noticed that some companies are a little more forgiving in this department than others. When we compared travel insurance quotes, IMG hiked its prices up much more for older travelers (ages 45-65), while Travelex and John Hancock tended to be a little more affordable. You’ll have to compare personalized quotes to find the best deal for you, but these two may be a good place to start for parties middle-aged and up.
Avoid paying for double coverage
Many travel insurance companies promote upgrades that overlap with the coverage you might already have. For example, they may offer to cover your home and belongings while you’re away on vacation — but most homeowners and renters policies already protect these things. You may also see options like rental car insurance, though many credit cards have rental car damage waivers that travel internationally. It’s worth double-checking your current insurance policies to make sure you don’t end up paying for the same coverage twice.
International Travel Insurance FAQs
The Best International Travel: Summed Up
|The best||For thrill-seekers|
|A.M. Best financial strength rating|
|Max trip length|
|24/7 worldwide assistance|
|Free coverage for kids under 18|
|Optional "cancel for any reason" coverage|
|Adventure sports coverage|
|Optional "pre-existing condition waiver"|