The Best Medical Travel Insurance

When you’re traveling out of the country, one of the first things to look into is whether or not your health insurance will reimburse you for medical costs you might incur on your trip. Most of the time, your medical coverage doesn’t travel with you. That’s where medical travel insurance comes in. Along with situations covered under traditional travel insurance — flight delays, lost baggage, trip cancellation — the best medical travel insurance also covers emergency healthcare expenses and evacuation back home.

If you’re traveling with your family, we recommend Travelex's Select plan, which covers kids under 18 for free as long as they’re traveling with an adult family member. Aside from that, it has all the medical coverage you’d need: $50K for medical expenses ($500 for dental), $500K for emergency evacuation, and a pre-existing condition waiver if the plan is purchased within 21 days of your initial trip deposit. We also liked how Travelex offers customizable upgrades like increased medical coverage and a Cancel for Any Reason option so you can tailor your policy to exactly what you need.

For solo travelers, we prefer the plans from John Hancock. It has the same excellent medical coverage as Travelex, but you can’t add kids to your policy. For solo travelers or couples, John Hancock provides some of the most personalized coverage out there, with three tiers of coverage and a host of add-ons. Where it really set itself apart, though, was in the customer service department: John Hancock’s reps knew their policies inside and out, never pushed us for a sale, and were all-around some of the nicest agents we spoke to.

We also like Allianz and IMG. Though their coverage offerings aren’t as robust as Travelex or John Hancock, their worth considering for more unique trips. If you’re traveling to a remote or exotic location, check out the iTravelInsured LX plan from IMG. It accounts for specific situations like search and rescue, while also covering extreme sports like rock climbing and snowboarding. No matter what kind of far-flung adventure you’re going on, IMG will have you covered. Allianz's Classic Plan with Trip+ stood out to us as the only company to offer coverage for trips up to a year in length, a great option for those studying or teaching abroad.

Our Top Picks for the Best Medical Travel Insurance

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

We liked Travelex as the best travel medical insurance for families because it includes kids under 18 for free, an incredible perk that we only saw with Travelex and the Classic Plan from Allianz. You’ll have to opt for the pricier Select plan, but we think it’s more than worth the upgrade.

The Travelex Select Plan met every one of our requirements: $50K for medical expenses ($500 for dental), $500K for emergency evacuation, and a pre-existing condition waiver if the plan is purchased within 21 days of your initial trip deposit. It’s also a primary coverage plan, so you won’t have to worry about the hassle of going through your U.S. health insurance company first if you need to make a claim.

We also loved how Travelex offered a number of customizable upgrades with their plans. You can add on a “Cancel for Any Reason” feature that covers 75% of your trip no matter what. And if you want to increase your coverage, they have options for an additional $50K of medical expenses and $500K for evacuation. Travelex has additional coverage for sports, too, so you can beef up your policy for riskier activities like skiing or mountain climbing.

Customer service was also excellent in every one of our tests. A Travelex agent answered our email in about four hours, and we were speaking with a real person within a minute of calling their number. Every rep we talked to knew their policies inside and out, and we never felt like they were pushing us towards a sale. We also liked knowing that Travelex’s underwriter, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, holds financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s.

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

We loved almost everything about John Hancock’s travel insurance. It has zero deductible on any of its plans, three different coverage levels for emergency medical and evacuation, and the best customer service experience of any of the companies we tested. The only downside? Kids aren’t included for free, so it’s a better option for solo travelers.

While it’s coverage met every one of our strict guidelines, where John Hancock really stood out was in the customer service department. Our test calls were answered almost immediately, each time by an agent who clearly knew every aspect of the coverage in great detail. And they weren’t just reading off a script; they clearly had experience handling claims and could answer tricky hypothetical 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.

Aside from their medical coverage, John Hancock offers great all-around travel insurance with their three packages: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. We liked how you could tailor your coverage for every kind of trip. If you’re only traveling with a backpack of clothes, the Bronze plan insures it up to $500, while the Gold plan goes up to $2,500 if you’re taking more expensive gear. John Hancock also stood out in their trip delay coverage: You’ll get up to $150 a day for the Bronze and Silver plans and $200 a day for the Gold plan if your flight is delayed by three hours or more. Every other company we looked at required at least a five hour delay (and often as much as twelve) before the benefits kicked in. John Hancock’s policy makes it much more likely that you’d actually be able to use the benefit you’re paying for.

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

IMG has a number of quality options, but the iTravelInsured LX plan stuck out to us as the best choice for a specific type of traveler: the adventurer going to remote and exotic locations.

If you’re planning a trip to a location that’s especially difficult to get to, you’ll want to increase your coverage at nearly every level. IMG provides $500K in medical and up to $1 million in evacuation expenses. Whether you’re climbing Mount Everest or scuba diving off the coast of Fiji, this should be enough for any emergency situation.

Where IMG truly goes above and beyond is in its coverage for other types of evacuations. The iTravelInsured LX plan provides for $10,000 in search and rescue, and $50,000 for non-emergency evacuation. Since these situations aren’t typically covered under emergency evacuation policies — reserved for things like medically-staffed flights back to the U.S. — IMG’s coverage could end up being an enormous benefit in certain scenarios. It also doesn’t exclude any specific sports and activities, so you’ll be set no matter what type of trip you’re taking.

There were a couple quirks in IMG’s coverage that we weren’t crazy about. Pre-existing conditions are covered, but only if you buy the insurance within 24 hours of your final trip payment. That was a complete reverse from what most companies advertise — pre-existing conditions waived if you buy within two or three weeks of your first trip payment. IMG”s policy was a hassle, but as long as you’re aware of it, this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. The plan also has a maximum trip duration of 90 days, so if you’re planning a trek longer than that, you’ll need to consider other options.

The iTravelInsured LX plan isn’t for everybody. You’ll pay a little more than IMG’s other travel insurance plans for add-ons like search and rescue and inclusion of extreme sports and recreational activities. But if you’re planning a trip in a remote location with limited access to hospitals or even roads, the beefier coverage is more than worth it.

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

While Allianz’s global asset management and insurance business is one of the largest companies in the world, only one of their plans met all of our criteria: the Classic Plan with Trip+. It had all medical coverage we wanted, but with one unique benefit. Allianz will insure trips up to a year in length, while most companies top out around three months.

This lengthened coverage would be essential for those who are planning extended trips like studying abroad or backpacking around Europe. The Classic Plan with Trip+ has all the basics covered — $1 million in evacuation, $50K in medical, and a waiver for pre-existing conditions — without necessarily going above and beyond on any of them. It does cover kids under 18 for free, but we preferred the customization options on Travelex’s Select plan if you’re going to be traveling with kids.

Allianz didn’t offer very much that could help you personalize your policy. There weren’t any additional amount upgrades, no Cancel for Any Reason options, no “hazardous activities” coverage. We also weren’t thrilled with Allianz’s customer service. It wasn’t horrible — no one was rude or unprofessional — but we were on hold for five minutes before speaking with someone who seemed to know less about the plans than we did. If we had to spend hours on a claim, we could see how this could turn from a minor annoyance to seriously frustrating.

All things considered, if you’re planning a trip longer than six months, Allianz is one of your best options. It’s generous enough to see you through a worst-case scenario, even if it didn’t have all the perks we liked in our other picks.

How to Save on Your Medical Travel Insurance Policy

While the cost of your premiums depends mostly on factors like age, destination, and length of trip, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re not overpaying.

Buy your insurance as soon as you make your first trip deposit.

There are three main coverage options that are time-sensitive: the pre-existing conditions waiver (generally available for two to three weeks after you make your first trip payment), and reimbursement if you cancel your trip entirely.

The waiver for pre-existing conditions is the most important; without it, your insurance company could deny claims based on your previous medical history. With the waiver, all you have to do is prove that you were medically fit to travel on the day you bought your insurance. Without it, your claim could be denied as long as there was evidence of the issue in the two to six months prior.

The other two time-sensitive options have to do with optional upgrades for trip cancellation protection. Cancel for Work Reasons coverage kicks in if you’re forced to stay home for work reasons. It generally requires a note from your boss, but will reimburse you for any lost trip costs if you’re forced to stay home for any work-related reasons. Cancel for Any Reason is much broader (and more expensive): It lets you cancel your trip up to two days in advance, and still recover 75% of the costs. Be prepared to pay up to 40% more on your premiums for this bailout, though.

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

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

The Best Medical Travel Insurance: Summed Up

Medical Travel Insurance The Best
For Families
John Hancock
For Solo Travelers
For Adventurers
For Long Trips