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By Joe Supan, Staff Writer

The Best International Travel Insurance Companies

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 preexisting condition waiver. Our top picks offer something for everyone.

The 6 Best International Travel Insurance Companies

Travelex - Best International Travel Insurance for Families

Best for
Families

Travelex Insurance Services
Travelex
Ample protection for your international trip, and a great option for families as kids are insured at no extra cost
Pros
Free coverage for kids
Excellent customer support
Customizable coverage
Cons
Limited policy selection
Less impressive medical limits

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 who 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.

Customizable coverage

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 preexisting 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 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.

John Hancock - Best International Travel Insurance for Solo Travelers

Best for
Solo Travelers

John Hancock
John Hancock
Well-rounded coverage and exceptional customer service, with consistently affordable pricing
Pros
Strong coverage across the board
Generous policy features
Best-in-class customer service
Cons
No adventure sports waiver
Kids cost extra

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 $50,000 in medical, $250,000 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 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 a delay of only three hours, where 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. In addition, we never felt like John Hancock’s agents were pushing us toward 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, 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 International Travel Insurance for Thrill-Seekers

Best for
Thrill-Seekers

IMG
IMG
Specialized coverage for extreme trips in remote locations
Pros
Unique policy for adventure sports
Robust coverage
Cancel for any reason
Cons
Less customizable
Generally pricier

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 most of 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.

Robust coverage

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

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 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.

APRIL International - Best International Travel Insurance for Group Travel

Best for
Group Travel

APRIL International
APRIL International
Convenient plans for groups that help make travel more economical
Pros
Group travel policy
High trip delay coverage
Cons
Low trip cost coverage

Why we chose it

Group travel policy

APRIL International was one of the few in our top picks to offer an option for group travel, which is why it made the list. If you’re traveling in a group of 10 or more as part of a program or event, it makes sense to go with a group policy. Not only is it more convenient, but you’ll pay a group rate that is oftentimes cheaper than 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 that you could get a decent rest at a nearby hotel instead of sleeping in the airport’s plastic chairs, and APRIL would cover it.

Points to consider

Low trip cost coverage

It would have been nice if APRIL offered a little more for overall trip coverage. While $20,000 might seem like a lot, it may fall short depending on the type of trip you’re taking. This amount is probably adequate if you’re traveling alone or with a single companion. However, larger groups and families traveling across the globe may want to look for higher coverage limits like those offered by John Hancock.

TravelSafe - Best International Travel Insurance for Travel Flexibility

Best for
Travel Flexibility

TravelSafe Insurance
TravelSafe Insurance
Great plans for missed connections and greater peace of mind
Pros
Best missed connection coverage
Decent free look period
Cons
No itinerary change coverage

Why we chose it

Best missed connection coverage

Of all our top picks, TravelSafe Insurance has the highest coverage when it comes to missed connections. If you were to miss your connecting flight, with TravelSafe, you would get $25,000 to help you get to where you’re going. It's a substantial amount of money, and it helps take some of the anxiety out of coordinating and syncing up your flight schedules.

Decent free look period

Another reason that we liked TravelSafe was because of the flexibility of the free look period. After you sign on for a policy, you have 14 days before you’re unable to get a refund. This means you have two weeks to back out should something come up and you’re no longer able to travel. That’s not a bad window of time, since the highest we found with other providers was 15 days and the lowest was 10.

Points to consider

No itinerary change coverage

TravelSafe doesn’t advertise any itinerary change coverage. This means that if you had a policy with TravelSafe and a hiccup in your travel schedule prevented you from participating in any tours and activities, you’d be out of luck. Not only would you miss out, but a lot of those travel activities are non-refundable. If you want greater peace of mind when it comes to the unpredictability of air travel, Travel Insured International offers coverage for itinerary changes.

Travel Insured International - Best International Travel Insurance for Longer Trips

Best for
Longer Trips

Travel Insured
Travel Insured International
Plans to accommodate for longer trips
Pros
Coverage for itinerary changes
Decent trip length coverage
Cons
Low AD&D coverage

Why we chose it

Coverage for itinerary changes

The only thing worse than a sudden change in itinerary is when said change stops you from getting the most out of your vacation — particularly non-refundable activities, like swimming with dolphins or touring the countryside. That’s why we picked Travel Insured International for longer trips; Travel Insured features programs with the highest payout amount to cover those costs should you miss out on any activities you paid for in advance.

Decent trip length coverage

A typical Travel Insured International plan can cover 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).

Points to consider

Low AD&D coverage

We weren’t too impressed with the accidental death and dismemberment coverage provided by Travel Insured International. While no one wants to think about the worst case scenario, it still pays to have a policy that can cover you when disaster strikes. Those looking for better coverage should consider our other top picks, like APRIL International or IMG.

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 preexisting 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 like Travelex that covers children under 18 free of charge. 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 to 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 FAQ

How much does international travel insurance cost?

It’s a common misconception that travel destination has a large impact on insurance prices. In reality, the biggest factor in determining price is whether or not you’re going out of the country. International travel insurance is always more expensive than domestic, but whether you’re going to Sweden or Chile won’t make a huge difference.

The one important exception is if you’re visiting a country with a travel advisory in effect. Most insurance providers won’t cover trips to any nation with an “Avoid all travel” status from the State Department.

Other major price considerations include total trip cost, travelers’ ages, and coverage or policy selections. Each provider weighs these factors a little differently, so you’ll have to compare quotes from multiple companies to see which one can offer you the best deal.

How much travel insurance do I need?

Travel insurance comes in all shapes and sizes, and the amount you purchase needs to fit your unique needs. That said, medical coverage should take first priority for any international trip. Your policy will likely act as your primary health insurance while abroad, so it must be robust enough to provide for your travel party in a worst-case scenario.

Our experts recommend starting with at least $50,000 for medical expense coverage: enough to cover a week’s stay or more in the hospital and afford you the best care available in an overseas emergency. They also suggest at least $100,000 for emergency medical evacuation, as the costs of an air lift or on-site treatment can add up quickly.

Always choose insurance limits with your destination and vacation activities in mind. Stan Sandberg, Co-Founder of TravelInsurance.com, confirms: “If you’re going to a remote part of the Himalayas or deep into the Amazon, you would err on the side of a higher coverage limit because an evacuation is likely to be more expensive than if you were going to the Caribbean or staying domestically. You have to take into consideration the type of travel, the destination, and what your personal considerations are.”

What is primary travel insurance?

We only considered travel insurance companies that provide primary, as opposed to secondary, medical coverage. This has a few benefits. First, primary coverage allows the travel insurance company to act as your first point of contact. That means you’ll never have to file a claim through your at-home provider before it can be approved by your travel insurance company. Also, in the rare cases that your U.S. insurance covers you abroad, you won’t have to worry about meeting multiple deductibles, and claims won’t apply to your U.S. policy’s annual or lifetime limits.

As Sandberg puts it: “I’ve traveled enough times to know that I’d rather deal with one claims process that’s efficient and fast than have to go through my completely backwards health insurance plan.” We would, too.

The Best International Travel Insurance Companies: Summed Up

  Travelex John Hancock IMG APRIL International TravelSafe Insurance Travel Insured International
The best
For families For solo travelers For thrill-seekers For group travel For travel flexibility For longer trips
Recommended plan
Travel Select Bronze, Silver, or Gold iTravelInsured LX Choice, Cruise, or VIP Classic Protector or Protector Plus
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A++ A A A A A
Max trip length
364 days 90 days 90 days 90 days 120 days 180 days
24/7 worldwide assistance
Free coverage for kids under 18
Optional "cancel for any reason" coverage
Adventure sports coverage
Optional "preexisting condition waiver"
Review period
15 days 14 days 10 days 10 days 14 days 14 days
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