How to Pick the Best International Travel Insurance
Even the most carefully planned trip can easily become upended by a sudden emergency or accident.
That’s why international travel insurance is so important. The best plans help cover medical care, stolen property, and even sudden trip cancellations.
Yet there’s no single best provider for everyone. Some plans are best for solo travelers while others are best for families while still others are best for those traveling on business.
We show you exactly what to look for in international travel insurance before offering our recommendations on the top providers for five different types of travelers.
Here’s how to pick travel insurance that works best for you.
Major Types of Coverage
In our opinion, the best travel insurance for international travel has to offer all five of the following types of major coverage:
- Trip Cancellation – Covers non-refundable expenses like flights and hotels in the event of cancellation.
- Medical Care – Covers injuries, sudden illnesses, and other medical emergencies during your trip.
- Personal Item Loss – Covers lost, damaged, or stolen items, including delayed baggage.
- Evacuation and Repatriation – Covers emergency medical transport, including a trip back to your home country if required.
- 24/7 Assistance – Call anytime for assistance with medical emergencies and other issues no matter where you’re located in the world.
Many providers only offer a handful of these coverage types. For example, some only offer medical coverage for international travel.
Even if you don’t end up buying all five types of coverage, we firmly believe that the best international travel insurance providers at least give you the option.
It’s essential to go over your international travel insurance policy with a fine-toothed comb so that you know exactly what it entails.
A few of the most important coverage details to look at before buying a policy include:
- Max Deductible – How much are you required to pay for covered medical services yourself before your insurance kicks in?
- Medical Coverage – According to Squaremouth.com, most travelers need medical coverage between $50k (enough for a week in the hospital) and $100k (enough for a medical evacuation to your home country).
- Cancel for Any Reason – This is the amount you’ll be reimbursed if you must cancel your trip for any reason. It’s usually around 75% of the expenses.
- Coverage for Children – Certain plans cover children for no additional cost. These are among the best for families to consider.
- Customer Service – Friendly, knowledgeable, and professional customer service is essential not only to handling claims efficiently but also for buying and understanding your policy in the first place.
Remember that your normal health plan most likely doesn’t cover any medical emergencies or costs you accrue while traveling.
That’s why it’s so important to select a travel insurance policy that offers adequate coverage for medical emergencies (ideally between $50k and $100k).
Just as important as knowing what your travel insurance plan covers is knowing what it does not cover.
Once again, this is where pouring over the fine print before making a final decision comes into the picture. Some providers enable you to add optional coverage for certain things while some do not.
A prime example is injuries caused by extreme activities. These include accidents while hang gliding or bungee jumping.
Most policies do not cover such injuries. However, some providers allow you to pay extra for “extreme activities coverage” if your travels contain such plans.
Best International Travel Insurance 2017
The right travel insurance for one person isn’t the right for the next. The best option for you depends on your individual needs, preferences, and the specifics of your trip.
However, there are some travel insurance providers that stick out above the rest. These should be the first of the options you look at and consider.
Here are your options for the best travel insurance in 2017 broken down by category.
Best for Business Travel
According to USA Today, more companies than ever before are sending their employees out on the road.
Nowhere is this spike in business travel more noticeable than with international trips. Of course, most companies that routinely send employees overseas have their own travel insurance programs in place.
But, for those that don’t, finding your own business travel insurance is a must. Travel Guard is our top choice thanks to their plans specific to business travelers.
The provider offers options for every type of coverage you could need as a business traveler, including evacuations and reparation, baggage delay, trip cancellation, emergency medical, and more.
Choose the base plan for business travel or opt for a variety of add-ons that further tailor your travel insurance to your specific needs.
In addition to their comprehensive coverage, plans, and add-ons, we like Travel Guard because they make getting a quote easy.
Simply put, add what you need. You won’t feel pressured to add anything you don’t need. That enables you to get a plan well within your price range that meets all your business travel needs.
Learn more about Travel Guard.
Best for Families
Families have their own needs for travel insurance. Chief among these is ensuring children are also covered.
That’s what sets Travelex apart from the pack. They’re one of the only providers to offer free coverage for children under 21 as long as you purchase their “Travel Select” plan.
The “Travel Select” plan has a $50k maximum for medical treatment and a $25k maximum for the total trip expenses.
You can add on additional coverage types to your Travel Select plan as you see fit. Known as “Lifestyle Paks,” these optional bonuses include medical protection for pets traveling with you, child care cancellation, and much more.
Travelex even offers their “Adventurer Plus Pak” for families and children planning to partake in extreme activities on their vacation. The additional coverage even reimburses search-and-rescue!
Beyond these nice additional benefits, Travelex simply offers a personal, professional atmosphere that few other providers can match.
Their customer service is top notch. Call anytime for help or more information. The representatives are clear and concise when detailing their plans before you buy them. They’re never pushy.
Best for Backpackers
Backpacking around the world requires specialized travel insurance that suits the needs of a solo adventurous traveler.
iTravelInsured LX is your absolute best option. Not only is it perfect for those traveling alone, but it’s also specially designed for remote and tropical locations.
Better yet, it includes coverage for adventurous activities, including those that are a high risk like motorcycling, bungee jumping, ziplining, and more.
Other additional forms of coverage include search and rescue insurance as well as a provision for “Cancel at any Time” coverage.
Another feature that sets ITravelInsured LX apart from the competition is their second-to-none customer service. Even though their phone support is top-notch, it’s their live chat feature that really sets them apart from the pack.
Best for Seniors
The importance of finding the best international travel insurance is even more important for those over 65 years of age.
Most seniors have more medical needs than younger travels. That’s why the best plan for seniors must have extensive coverage for medical emergencies.
Few providers offer as much in this area as Travelsafe Travel Insurance. Not only do they offer three solid plans, but each plan includes extensive medical coverage as well as cancellation coverage.
The provider has great preexisting condition waivers on top of this. It's easy to get this type of travel insurance even if you have a health condition before your trip.
Finally, Travelsafe Travel Insurance offers excellent emergency assistance.
With 24/7 worldwide assistance, a team member is available whenever you need help. Reach out to them with all of your questions, and for any insurance-related advice, you might need.
Learn more about Travelsafe Travel Insurance.
Best for Extended Trips
There are few better travel insurance options for those embarking on long trips than Allianz.
One of the biggest names in the insurance industry, the provider offers several full-featured plans that are perfect for extended vacations overseas.
Case in point: they’re one of the only providers that offer travel insurance for those traveling for more than six months. Coverage from most providers is limited to three months. Allianz offers coverage for up to one year.
Not only does this make Allianz a great option for extended trips, but it also makes the provider a favorite for backpackers as well as students studying abroad.
Like most of the other top travel insurance providers we’ve recommended here, Allianz has fantastic customer service. Contacting them via phone is quick and easy. All the representatives are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional.
Learn more about Allianze Travel Insurance
Remember to Request Quotes
Our recommendations for the best international travel insurance above don’t take price into consideration.
Everyone will pay a different premium depending on their individual needs, specifics of their travel plans, and overall situation.
An example is taking a trip to Canada versus one to India. The same provider that offers the best rates for a Canada trip might not offer the best rates for an India trip.
For that reason, it’s essential to request quotes from each provider you’re interested in for the specific trip you’re interested in. Doing so will allow you to compare these quotes to better select the international travel insurance policy that’s best for you.
According to The Simple Dollar, most travel insurance policies cost between 4% and 10% the total cost of your trip.
So use that figure to plan accordingly. And remember that the higher that percentage, the more comprehensive and detailed the plan.
Now that you know the best providers for international travel insurance, broken down by what type of traveler each is best for, there are several additional tips to keep in mind.
- The first tip is to check your renters or homeowner’s insurance to see if you are covered for certain risks while traveling.
Sometimes renters/homeowner’s insurance cover lost, damaged, or stolen property, no matter where they’re located in the world. That means your travel insurance policy might not need to include coverage for personal item loss.
- Another tip is to buy your travel insurance policy as soon as possible. Ensure that you buy it no later than ten days after your first payment related to expenses for your upcoming trip.
Timing the purchase of your policy like this ensures that you receive the full benefits of the insurance plan.
The main benefit you ensure you receive by doing this is "Cancel for Any Reason." It helps you recoup your expenses (up to around 75%) if you must cancel your trip before leaving.
- Another benefit that requires you to buy travel insurance during the early stages of your trip planning is the pre-existing medical conditions exclusion.
Book early, and you'll receive a waiver that shows you were fit to travel on the day you bought the policy and booked your trip.
The waiver then ensures you receive reimbursement for your trip expenses even if a pre-existing condition unexpectedly flares up before your departure on your trip.
- Our final tip to you is to always keep your travel insurance information on you. According to the US Travel Insurance Association, this ensures you’ll have access to 24/7 worldwide assistance at all times.
Buying the right international travel insurance for your next overseas trip isn’t exactly a walk in the park – but it doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly difficult either.
Keep the information outlined above in mind and follow our tips during the selection process to find the providers that offer the policies that meet your traveling needs.
A good place to start is with our top recommendations. Though these are the best of the best in general, they’re still not the best for everyone.
Start with these but don’t be afraid to do your own research. Request quotes from several providers and compare these to find the best rates possible.
Spend a little time here – rather than selecting the first provider you see – and you’ll find the best international travel insurance for you before long.