The Best Medical Travel Insurance
How We Found the Best Medical Travel Insurance
22 providers evaluated
15 hours of research
4 top picks
The Best Medical Travel Insurance
The best international travel insurance policies cover medical care and emergency transportation, protecting you from paying for health care 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:
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.
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
- 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
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 Global Assistance 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 Global Assistance or IMG for most scenarios.
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. Its 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 Allianz Global Assistance and Travelex’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. Opting for the Silver plan gets you $100,000 in medical coverage and $500,000 for medical evacuation. And, if you go for the gold, you’re looking at $250,000 in medical coverage and a whopping $1,000,000 for emergency transportation.
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 sports 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.
Why we chose it
Robust medical and evacuation coverage
Our favorite plan from IMG is the iTravelInsured Travel 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 scuba diving 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.
Why we chose it
Year-round travel insurance
Allianz Global Assistance 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 health care 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, save, of course, for John Hancock’s Gold plan that also matches this amount.
Generous emergency evacuation coverage is especially important if you’re taking advantage of Allianz Global Assistance’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 Global Assistance will foot the transportation bill in an emergency.
Coverage for kids is free
We love that the Allianz Global Assistance OneTrip Premier plan includes children under 17 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 the only Allianz Global Assistance 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 Global Assistance 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 FAQ
The Best Medical Travel Insurance: Summed Up
|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|
|Optional "pre-existing condition waiver"|
|Adventure sports coverage|
More Travel Reviews
Now that you’ve got international health care covered, it’s time for the fun stuff. Check out some of our other travel reviews for the best in airfare, bookings, and rentals. You’ll be well on your way to an unforgettable trip.