The Best Medical Travel Insurance

The best international travel insurance policies cover medical care and emergency transportation, protecting you from paying for healthcare out-of-pocket while abroad. Our top picks offer generous medical coverage in addition to full-featured travel insurance (think luggage recovery, 24/7 worldwide assistance, reimbursement for canceled trips, and more). They’re also financially sound and backed by truly reliable customer service.

How We Chose the Best Medical Travel Insurance

Comprehensive medical insurance

Most U.S. insurance policies won’t cover you outside the country, so medical travel insurance is a must if you’ll be abroad for an extended period of time. We looked for companies that can be counted on to cover any medical emergency, anywhere in the world. To start, they had to cover the three most essential areas for medical travel insurance:

Emergency medical coverage

Emergency medical coverage will replace your at-home health insurance, covering expenses like doctor’s visits and hospital stays. Without emergency medical coverage, you’d be stuck footing the entire bill for anything from a strep test to a broken bone.

Medical evacuation and repatriation

Evacuation coverage pays for transportation to a nearby hospital or a medically-staffed return trip if necessary. Evacuation costs are separate from treatment, so even if your U.S. insurance travels abroad, it almost certainly doesn’t cover a medical airlift.

24/7 worldwide assistance

24/7 assistance guarantees that your provider is available at any time to help file a claim, locate a physician or make arrangements during a medical emergency. If you’re traveling across the globe, it’s crucial to choose an insurer that can be reached no matter what time zone you’re in.

We found 22 companies that provide adequate coverage in the areas listed above. In order to separate the best from the rest, we reached out to travel experts and asked them what makes for truly comprehensive medical insurance.

High levels of emergency medical and evacuation coverage

The first thing they told us: Look for at least $50,000 in emergency medical care. This should cover about a week’s stay in the hospital plus treatment if you’re injured on vacation. Steve Sandberg, Co-Founder of TravelInsurance.com says, “The standard medical amount that we suggest is $50K of medical coverage, and that dovetails with the minimum amount that some visas require.” Dr. Wasim Mohideen, Director of Techmed Healthcare and Basil Wellness, agreed, adding, “If you are young and healthy, this should be more than sufficient.”

We also learned that the best medical travel insurance should cover a minimum of $100,000 for emergency medical transportation. Yvette McQueen, an emergency physician specializing in travel wellness, explained: “For medical evacuation, I recommend at least $100K value. Most medical evacuation flights start at $50K and it also needs to cover personnel and supplies.”

We only considered companies that met these expert-recommended coverage levels for both medical care and emergency transportation.

Primary insurance providers only

Along with well-rounded medical coverage, we looked for companies that provide primary insurance. A primary provider, as opposed to secondary, essentially replaces U.S. insurance while you’re abroad. That means you can file claims through them directly and will never have to pay two separate deductibles. All of our top picks are primary insurers, so they’ll be able to process claims and get you help as quickly as possible in an emergency.

Reliable services

Of course, even the best-looking coverage is only as good as the company backing it. We made sure our top picks were the most reputable, reliable providers on the market. First, each one had to earn a financial strength rating of “A” or higher from A.M. Best — meaning they’ll be able to pay out on any size claim.

We also called and emailed each company, taking note of the ones with the best customer service. Since they’ll be your first point of contact in an emergency, it’s crucial to choose a travel insurance provider with responsive support channels and helpful, knowledgeable reps. Our top picks are some of the industry’s best.

The 4 Best Medical Travel Insurance Companies

Best for
Families
Travelex Insurance Services
Travelex
Comprehensive medical coverage outside the U.S. that’s affordable for the whole family
Pros
Kids are insured for free
Pre-existing condition waiver included
Coverage for adventure sports
Cons
Lower medical limits built-in
Fewer policy options

Why we chose it

Kids are insured for free

If parents purchase insurance through Travelex, their kids are automatically covered for free. It’s why we love this company for family vacations. No surcharge for children means more affordable insurance for families, no matter how large. You’ll be able to purchase comprehensive health insurance for every member of your group without breaking the bank.

Pre-existing condition waiver included

Travel insurance companies will only reimburse trip costs if you cancel for one of their preordained “covered reasons.” (Unless you shell out for "cancel for any reason" coverage, that is.) Pre-existing health conditions generally aren’t included, as canceling for an ongoing health issue isn’t considered to be “unforeseen.” We really appreciate that Travelex includes a pre-existing condition waiver with its Travel Select policy — meaning it will still cover your trip deposits if an ongoing health problem interferes with travel plans.

Just note that the pre-existing condition waiver is only included if you purchase your policy within 21 days of the initial trip deposit. We suggest buying travel insurance at the same time as your first bookings, to make sure you don’t miss out on time-sensitive coverages like this.

Coverage for adventure sports

Travelex also offers a waiver for adventure sports; things like scuba diving, mountain climbing, hang gliding, and so on. With it, the company will cover your medical bills and emergency transportation — even if you got injured while participating in a hazardous activity. Neither John Hancock or Allianz has a similar waiver, meaning Travelex is a better choice for travelers who like to live on the edge.

Points to consider

Lower medical limits built-in

Travelex’s Travel Select policy comes with $50,000 for medical coverage and $500,000 for emergency evacuation. According to our experts, this should be plenty for most trips. (Think sightseeing, touring by car, or hanging on the beach, where the likelihood of serious injury is low and hospitals are nearby.) That said, if you’re traveling in a far-flung location or participating in any dangerous activities, you may be better off with greater medical coverage. Travelex will let you double its limits — for a surcharge — or, you might consider a policy with higher built-in limits from John Hancock or IMG.

Fewer policy options

Travelex only offers two travel insurance policies: Travel Basic and Travel Select. Its cheaper plan, Travel Basic, didn’t meet our requirements for great coverage. The main drawback? It only offers $15,000 in medical care coverage — far below the $50,000 recommended by travel experts. We can only recommend Travel Select, the company’s higher-tier option. Don’t let that scare you off, though; when we compared prices, Travelex still offered more affordable coverage than either Allianz or IMG for most scenarios.

Best for
Solo Travelers
John Hancock
John Hancock
Choose from three affordable, well-rounded plans with generous medical limits and great customer service
Pros
High medical limits across the board
No deductibles
Outstanding customer service
Cons
Lacks an adventure sports waiver
Kids cost extra

Why we chose it

High medical limits across the board

Most of our top picks offer just one policy that hit all of our requirements. John Hancock offers three. It’s Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans all meet or exceed the standards that we set for coverage and medical limits. The Bronze plan — John Hancock’s cheapest option — starts with $50,000 of medical coverage, equal to Travelex and Allianz’s top-tier policies. It also covers $250,000 for emergency transportation, which is more than double what our experts recommended. If you opt for Silver or Gold, coverage amounts only go up from there.

No deductibles

None of John Hancock’s policies come with a medical deductible. That means if you’re injured while abroad and need emergency care, you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket. We appreciate the peace of mind knowing that should an accident happen, an already-spendy vacation won’t suddenly double in price due to medical payments.

Outstanding customer service

John Hancock’s policies come backed by exceptional customer service, too. Our test calls were answered almost immediately, each time by an agent who clearly knew the coverage in great detail. They weren’t just reading off a script, either; they clearly had experience handling claims and could answer tricky questions with ease. Aside from their exhaustive knowledge, each rep was kind, patient, and seemed to genuinely care that we got the coverage we needed. If we ever had to call in an emergency, we knew we’d be in good hands.

Points to consider

Lacks an adventure sport waiver

John Hancock doesn’t offer an adventure or extreme sports waiver, which is something to look out for if you plan on participating in any risky past-times on vacation. The company explicitly states that it won’t cover injuries sustained while bungee jumping, scuba diving, mountaineering, or any number of other “hazardous activities.” For medical coverage tailored to that sort of trip, check out Travelex or IMG, both of which offer adventure sports insurance.

Kids cost extra

Unlike Travelex, John Hancock doesn’t include kids on their parent’s insurance for free. Each additional child will raise the cost of your insurance — in our experience, by around $50 per person. The cost can add up quickly for large families. That’s why we recommend John Hancock primarily for solo travelers or groups of adults.

Best for
Thrill-Seekers
IMG
IMG
Exceptionally strong coverage for risk-loving travelers visiting remote locales
Pros
Robust medical and evacuation coverage
Unique protection for extreme sports
Cancel your trip for any reason
Cons
Higher limits mean higher premiums
Policies are not customizable

Why we chose it

Robust medical and evacuation coverage

Our favorite plan from IMG is the iTravelInsured LX, which is tailored to adventurous and thrill-seeking travelers (think climbers, jumpers, divers, skiers, and any other “-er”). It starts with $500,000 of coverage for emergency medical care — 10 times the limit we looked for in a great policy. On top of that, iTravelInsured will pay for up to $1 million in emergency evacuation costs. Whether you’re summiting a remote peak or SCUBAing in the far reaches of the sea, this should be enough for medically-staffed transport in an emergency.

Unique protection for extreme sports

IMG’s iTravelInsured LX also offers some unique coverages we didn’t see anywhere else. For example, the company will cover $10,000 in search-and-rescue costs if you get into trouble off the grid. The policy also includes $50,000 for non-emergency evacuation. Emergency evac coverage is normally reserved for things like a medically-staffed flight back to the U.S., so we appreciate how broad IMG’s allowance is by comparison.

Cancel your trip for any reason

The other standout feature of IMG’s LX policy is that it comes with "cancel for any reason" coverage built-in. Since booking adventure sports travel is often expensive — with things like tour guide fees, chartered planes, and equipment rental — we love that IMG goes the extra mile to protect any deposits you’ve made.

Just keep in mind that "cancel for any reason" is only included if you purchase your policy within 20 days of the initial trip payment. We recommend purchasing travel insurance at the same time that you book flights and lodging, to make sure you don’t miss out on this time-sensitive coverage.

Points to consider

Higher limits mean higher premiums

The iTravelInsured LX plan from IMG is incredibly generous with its coverage, but — as should be expected — a bigger policy comes with a bigger price tag. When we compared prices across our four top picks, IMG’s insurance was consistently more expensive than other providers’. If you’re a risk-taker traveling in a hard-to-reach location, then the LX policy’s robust coverage is absolutely worth its cost. For a more standard, hazard-free vacation, it’s probably overkill.

Policies are not customizable

The last thing worth noting about IMG is that its policies are sold as-is. They come with pre-determined coverage levels, and don’t give you the option to supplement or subtract from what’s included. Since the LX plan is tailored to adventure travel — and very generous with its limits — this shouldn’t matter for people going on that type of trip. But keep in mind that it’s not a great choice for budget shoppers or those who prefer to customize their policy.

Best for
Frequent Travelers
Allianz Global Assistance
Allianz
Year-round travel insurance that provides ongoing medical coverage for jet-setters
Pros
Year-round travel insurance
Extra emergency evacuation coverage
Coverage for kids is free
Cons
No medical upgrades available
Limited policy add-ons

Why we chose it

Year-round travel insurance

Allianz has a policy for just about any traveler. The company offers single-trip plans lasting up to one year in length, which makes it a great choice for extended backpacking excursions or students spending a few months abroad. It’s also our only top pick that provides multi-trip insurance. These year-long plans cover all your travels under a single policy — which, for frequent travelers, is much cheaper than buying a whole new policy for each trip. A multi-trip plan offers extra peace of mind knowing that your healthcare needs are covered at all times, whether you’re inside the U.S. or overseas.

Extra emergency evacuation coverage

Although the OneTrip Premier policy offers fairly standard coverage in most areas, it did wow us with one thing: a $1 million emergency evacuation limit. This is impressively high when compared to our other top picks — matching IMG’s robust LX policy and doubling evacuation coverage from Travelex and most John Hancock plans.

Generous emergency evacuation coverage is especially important if you’re taking advantage of Allianz’s year-long trip limit. The longer your vacation, the farther you can venture — and if you end up in a hard-to-reach location, it’s nice to know that Allianz will foot the transportation bill in an emergency.

Coverage for kids is free

We love that Allianz’s OneTrip Premier plan includes children on their parents’ policies for free. That means you can get comprehensive coverage for your whole family without breaking the bank. Other providers, like John Hancock and IMG, up your premium for each additional traveler — children, too — so insuring a large family can become expensive very quickly.

Points to consider

No medical upgrades available

OneTrip Premier was Allianz’s only plan that met our coverage criteria. While this policy goes above and beyond for emergency transportation — covering an impressive $1 million — we weren’t as floored by its medical care limits. At $50,000 in emergency medical coverage, OneTrip Premier only just hits the benchmark we set. It doesn’t give you the option to purchase higher limits, either. If you’re planning a hardcore vacation with greater risk of injury, take a look at John Hancock or IMG for their larger medical care payouts.

Limited policy add-ons

Allianz doesn’t leave much room for you to personalize your policy. There’s no option to add an adventure sports waiver, "cancel for any reason" waiver, or supplemental medical coverage. All in all, the OneTrip Premier plan is great for basic travel insurance — but if you need a policy with a little more oomph, you may be better off with one of our other top picks.

Guide to Medical Travel Insurance

Take planned activities into account

All of the policies we recommend here carry medical coverage levels recommended by experts: $50,000 for emergency medical care, and $100,000 for evacuation or repatriation. That said, it’s worth considering higher limits in a number of situations. First and foremost: If you plan on participating in any “hazardous activities” (think scuba, skydiving, mountain climbing, etc.), then you may want more robust medical coverage. IMG’s iTravelInsured LX policy stands out in this department.

Along those same lines, travelers visiting hard-to-reach locations should look for a policy with generous evacuation coverage. Sandberg explains: “If you’re going to a remote part of the Himalayas or deep into the Amazon, you’d want to err on the side of a higher coverage limit. An evacuation in these places is likely to be more expensive than if you were going to the Caribbean or traveling domestically.” Make sure to take these things into account when selecting your travel insurance provider and medical coverage amounts.

Compare quotes to find the best price

Travel insurance prices are highly personal. How much you’ll pay depends on total trip cost, coverage selections, and the number and age of travelers in your party. What does that mean for you? Primarily, that you won’t know which company is cheapest for your trip until you’ve compared personalized quotes. We recommend looking at prices from all four of our top picks to see how they stack up — they all offer online quotes, so it only takes a few minutes to find the best deal.

Medical Travel Insurance FAQs

What is medical travel insurance?

Medical travel insurance acts as your primary health coverage on international vacations. Just like your policy in the U.S., it can be used to pay for treatments, medication, and even a stay in the hospital if necessary. In addition, medical travel insurance includes something called “emergency transportation coverage.” This kicks in if you’re injured in a remote location and need to be transported to a hospital, or even sent on a medically-staffed flight back home.

Keep in mind that the best medical coverage is just one part of a broader travel insurance policy. All of our top picks offer full-featured coverage, so you’re not only getting health insurance, but also protection for your trip deposits, flights, baggage, and more.

How much medical travel insurance do I need?

The best medical travel insurance should cover a minimum of $50,000 for emergency medical care and $100,000 for emergency evacuation or repatriation. These limits reflect the costs of treatment, hospital bills, and medically-staffed transportation — which can add up quickly, especially if you’re traveling in a remote location. Our coverage recommendations come from physicians and travel insurance experts that we spoke with while researching this review.

Is medical travel insurance worth it?

Yes — if you’re planning an extended vacation outside the U.S. Since most healthcare policies aren’t valid internationally, medical travel insurance is the only thing that will protect you from paying out of pocket if an accident happens during your trip. Medical coverage isn’t necessary for domestic travel, as you’ll still be covered by your U.S. insurance provider.

The Best Medical 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
OneTrip Premier
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A++
A
A
A+
Max trip length
364
90
90
354
24/7 worldwide assistance
Free coverage for kids under 18
Optional “cancel for any reason” coverage
Optional "pre-existing condition waiver"
Adventure sports coverage

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