What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Comprehensive travel insurance policies package together a number of valuable benefits. You can also buy policies that cover only trip cancellation or only medical expenses. With the wide variety of plans available, you can find coverage levels that will fit your budget and trip needs.
Look for these top coverage options in a comprehensive plan.
Trip cancellation insurance
You don’t book a trip with the intention of canceling it, but unexpected illness, injury, family member sickness, jury duty and more could derail plans. Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you 100% for money you lose in pre-paid, non-refundable deposits if you have to cancel for a reason listed in the policy.
If Covid is a concern, you can find travel insurance policies that cover Covid-related trip cancellation if you contract the virus right before the trip.
A good strategy is to insure the total amount you have put into non-refundable and pre-paid deposits. Don’t insure refundable amounts, like refundable plane tickets, because you can’t make an insurance claim for that.
Travel medical insurance
This is important coverage for travelers going abroad, where your U.S. health plan may have limited glocal coverage or no coverage. Travel medical insurance pays for ambulance service, doctor and hospital bills and other medical expenses during your trip. You can find generous coverage limits of up to $500,000 per person, but depending on your trip you may not need that level of coverage..
Because Medicare does not pay for health care outside the U.S., except in very limited circumstances, travel medical insurance is essential for senior travelers.
If Covid is a concern, you can find travel insurance policies that cover Covid-related medical expenses if you contract the virus during your trip.
Emergency medical evacuation coverage
This is also important coverage for those traveling abroad, especially if you’re going to a remote area where quality medical care might be hard to find. Emergency medical evacuation insurance pays to get you to the nearest adequate medical facility. You can find ample coverage of $1 million per person.
“Cancel for any reason” coverage
You may be able to upgrade your trip cancellation insurance to “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage. Not all providers offer this add-on. Having it allows you to cancel your trip for any reason that’s not listed in your base policy. For example, you could cancel the trip because you simply don’t feel like going anymore. Reimbursement under a CFAR claim is often 75% of your trip costs, not the 100% that’s available under the base trip cancellation coverage.
CFAR adds an average of about 50% to an insurance plan’s cost.
Travel delay insurance
Travel delay insurance reimburses you for expenses if you’re stuck somewhere and have to buy necessities to tide you over. For example, if you’re stuck in an airport all day because of a weather delay, this coverage can reimburse you for essential purchases like snacks and toiletries. If you’re stuck for a long time, it could pay for a taxi, a night in a hotel and meals.
Trip interruption insurance
If you have to cut your trip short because of a reason listed in the policy, this is valuable coverage to have. It can reimburse you for the non-refundable parts of your trip that you miss, such as a resort stay or pre-paid scuba diving lesson. It can also pay for a last-minute one-way ticket home if you have an emergency.
Baggage and personal effects coverage
Losing your bags can really ruin a trip. Baggage coverage can at least ease the financial pain a little. It can reimburse you for the bags and clothes and shoes that never arrive, although note that reimbursement is for the depreciated value of the items, not the cost to buy new ones. It also pays out for items lost to theft.
Baggage delay coverage
Your bags may be on their own detour, but what do you do while you’re waiting? This coverage reimburses you for necessities while you wait for your luggage. For example, if you’re in Canada you may need a coat, hat and essential toiletries. Policies usually require a certain time delay before baggage delay coverage kicks in, such as six hours.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
The cost of travel insurance is usually mainly based on the age of travelers and the trip cost. Of course the plan and provider you choose will also affect cost. Here’s an example of the costs of the top plans in our ratings.
|Top travel insurance plans
|Trawick International Safe Travels First Class
|GoReady Pandemic Plus
|iTravelInsured Travel SE
|Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. Prime
|AXA Assistance USA Platinum
|Cat 70 Travel Plan
|Tin Leg Gold
|HTH Travel Insurance TripProtector Preferred
|Seven Corners RoundTrip Choice
|USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services Diamond
|John Hancock Insurance Agency Gold
|AIG Travel Guard Deluxe
|Average prices are based on rates for five different trips with a variety of traveler ages. Note that plans have different levels of benefits, which can account for price differences.
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Here are some reasons you may need travel insurance:
You stand to lose a lot of money in non-refundable deposits if you cancel the trip. Trip cancellation is the coverage you want. It will cover 100% of the pre-paid money you’ll lose, as long as you cancel for a reason listed in the policy,
You’re traveling overseas and your health plan doesn’t have global coverage. Many health plans lack robust global coverage, or impose high out-of-network deductibles for care outside the U.S. Check your health plan details to see what it provides. Travel medical insurance fills the gap.
You’re going to a remote area. If you won’t be near any quality medical facilities, even a small injury could turn into a major medical event. Medical evacuation coverage will pay to medevac you to an adequate facility.
You want emergency backup. The 24/7 travel assistance lines that are included with travel insurance can assist you with finding a pharmacy, language translation, replacing a lost passport and much more.
Survey: Half of Americans Canceled Travel Due to Pandemic, But New Trips Are in the Works
A survey by Forbes Advisor found that 50% of adult Americans have had to cancel a trip because of the pandemic. And of those who canceled, 83% lost money.
Trip cancellations can hit both your morale and your pocketbook. Among those who lost trip money, 40% lost more than $1,500.
If you lost money as a result of a canceled vacation due to Covid-19, how much did you lose?
|Amount of money lost
|% of respondents
|Less than $500
|$500 to $1,500
|$1,501 to $3,000
|More than $3,000
But most Americans want to bounce back in 2022 with new vacations. Our survey found that 59% have booked trips or have trips in mind. Only 15% have ruled out a vacation.
Are you planning to take a vacation in 2022?
|Planning to take a vacation in 2022
|% of respondents
|Yes, I already have a trip planned
|Yes, I have a trip in mind
|Yes, I will travel once I’m confident that it is safe with Covid
After more than two years of trip disruptions and uncertainty, it makes sense that travel insurance is on the radar of more people. Two-thirds of Americans are at least somewhat more likely to buy travel insurance now compared to pre-pandemic times.
Are you more or less likely to purchase travel insurance now compared to before the start of the Covid pandemic?
|Likelihood of buying travel insurance now
|% of respondents
|Much more likely
|Somewhat more likely
|Neither more nor less likely
|Somewhat less likely
|Much less likely
We scored 46 policies to find the best travel insurance plans using data provided by Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider. When companies had more than one high-scoring plan we used the highest-scoring option. Our ratings are based on each plan’s score for benefits (⅔ of score) and average prices for a variety of trips and traveler profiles (⅓ of score).
The benefits scored were: medical expenses, medical evacuation, Covid coverage, pre-existing condition exclusion waivers, “cancel for any reason” coverage, trip interruption, travel delay time requirements, baggage delay time requirements, baggage reimbursement, hurricane and weather coverage requirements, financial default of a travel supplier.
An online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For a complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact [email protected].
Best Travel Insurance Companies FAQs
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a type of policy that reimburses you for money you lose from non-refundable deposits and payments when something goes wrong on your trip. These problems can range from lost baggage to flight delays to medical problems.
The more you’re spending on your trip, the more you likely need travel insurance. This is especially true for international trips and cruises, where travel problems become more expensive to solve.
What is not covered by travel insurance?
There are common things not covered by travel insurance. Make sure you read a policy’s exclusions so you’re not caught by surprise later. For example, a travel insurance policy could have medical coverage but exclude pre-existing conditions. So if an existing condition flares up during your trip, the travel insurance policy won’t cover it unless you purchased a pre-existing conditions exclusion waiver.
High-risk activities may not be covered, such as scuba diving. Nor are problems that happen because you were drunk or using drugs.
Medical tourism is also a common exclusion, so if you’re going abroad for a face lift, travel insurance won’t cover the hospital bills or aftercare.
I’m mainly concerned about getting sick while traveling. What insurance should I look for?
Travel medical insurance is available as a stand-alone plan or as part of a larger travel insurance package. It can pay expenses if you get an injury or illness while on your trip, as long as it’s a condition that’s covered by the policy.
If you’re concerned about COVID-19, check out Forbes Advisor’s ratings of the best pandemic travel insurance.
Do I need travel insurance for a cruise?
Travelers on cruises can potentially lose substantial money, just as much as a traveler on land. Cruise insurance can cover problems such as bad weather that causes a trip delay, or an illness that prevents you from traveling.
Is there travel insurance for multiple trips?
While standard travel insurance plans are meant to cover one-time trips, frequent travelers should consider an annual travel insurance plan. These plans cover the same issues as a single-trip plan, such as trip cancellation and emergency medical situations. But they also offer the convenience of a one-time purchase for multiple trips.