Travel insurance: Coverage options for international trips

Here’s a comprehensive guide to navigating the realm of travel insurance:

Travel arrangements inherently harbor uncertainties, and securing travel insurance acts as a prudent measure to mitigate risks. While budget-friendly trips may not necessitate coverage, it becomes a crucial asset for safeguarding substantial investments, particularly for elaborate international ventures or journeys coinciding with periods of heightened health concerns, such as cold and flu seasons.

In 2023, data from insurance comparison platform Squaremouth revealed that travelers spent an average of $403 on comprehensive coverage, in contrast to $96 for medical-only policies. Typically ranging between 5% and 10% of the total trip cost, comprehensive plans entail a considerable financial commitment.

Given the significance of this investment, adopting an informed approach to selecting travel insurance is imperative. Here’s a systematic breakdown to aid in identifying the most suitable insurance plan for your specific needs and upcoming travels.

Understanding the Coverage of Travel Insurance


What travel insurance covers

For tailored coverage selection, refer to the following guidelines delineating the key components of various travel insurance policies:

– Travel Medical Plan: Ensures payment of medical expenses for unforeseen illnesses or injuries during your trip that are not covered by your regular health insurance.

– Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation: Provides for transportation to the nearest suitable medical facility or repatriation to your home country in case of serious injury or illness during travel.

– Trip Cancellation, Interruption, and Delay: Reimburses nonrefundable expenses in the event of trip cancellation or interruption due to illness or other covered reasons, and compensates for additional costs incurred due to travel delays.

– “Cancel for Any Reason” Coverage: Offers reimbursement for nonrefundable reservations regardless of the reason for trip cancellation.

– Baggage and Personal Belongings: Covers expenses incurred due to loss, theft, or damage of baggage and personal belongings during travel.

– 24-Hour Assistance Services: Provides access to legal assistance and support services around the clock during travel emergencies.

– Car Rental Collision Insurance: Offers coverage for damage to rental vehicles during the rental period.


Travel insurance policies vary in terms of coverage and services provided. Some policies even extend coverage to catastrophic events, such as accidental death while traveling, providing a lump sum payment to beneficiaries.

Prior to purchasing a policy, it is advisable to acquaint oneself with the nuances of different insurance products, including pricing structures, coverage inclusions and exclusions. Especially in times of uncertainty, such as those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring coverage for related emergencies is paramount. Generally, more comprehensive coverage entails higher premiums.

How much does travel insurance cost?

The cost of travel insurance fluctuates based on several factors:

1. Length and expense of the trip: Longer and pricier trips typically entail higher policy costs.
2. Local healthcare expenses: Elevated healthcare costs at the destination may elevate trip insurance prices.
3. Pre-existing medical conditions: Coverage for existing conditions can contribute to increased insurance expenses.
4. Coverage extent and scope: Policies offering broader coverage and encompassing more risks tend to incur higher costs.
5. Age: Advanced age generally correlates with higher insurance premiums.
6. Optional supplements incorporated into the policy: Additional add-ons or enhancements may result in supplementary expenses. Cancel For Any Reason, Interrupt For Any Reason and more.


Keep these factors in mind when considering different travel insurance options.

Types of travel insurance

When perusing travel insurance options, a diverse array of protection plans awaits your consideration.

Conventionally, travel insurance is presented as a comprehensive package, incorporating an assortment of coverage elements.


Outlined below are seven prevalent categories of travel insurance:

Travel medical insurance

These policies offer health coverage during your travels, akin to conventional health insurance plans. However, they typically do not extend coverage for routine medical events, such as regular checkups. Moreover, restrictions and exclusions, particularly pertaining to pre-existing conditions, are common features of these plans.

While numerous recreational activities are covered under standard travel insurance policies, certain adventurous pursuits like skydiving or parasailing, as well as participation in organized sporting events, are often excluded. In such cases, individuals may require specialized travel insurance tailored for adventure or competitive sports activities.

International travel insurance

It’s important to note that typical U.S.-based medical insurance is unlikely to offer coverage while traveling internationally. Furthermore, Medicare generally does not extend coverage beyond the borders of the United States, with only a few narrowly defined exceptions. Considering these limitations, investing in travel medical insurance is often a prudent choice for those intending to travel abroad.

Trip cancellation, interruption and delay

Trip cancellation coverage serves to reimburse prepaid, nonrefundable expenses in the event of tour operator insolvency or trip cancellation due to reasons outlined in the policy, such as personal illness, the illness or demise of a non-traveling family member, or natural disasters.

Trip interruption insurance, on the other hand, compensates for the nonrefundable expenses associated with the unused portion of a trip disrupted by circumstances delineated in the policy.

In instances of trip delay, coverage extends to reimbursing expenses such as lodging and meals incurred during delays, such as flight cancellations due to adverse weather conditions.

Comprehensive package policies often incorporate all three forms of coverage. It’s worth noting that these policies differ from the cancellation waivers offered by cruise lines and tour operators. While waivers are budget-friendly, typically ranging from $40 to $60, they often come with limitations. For instance, immediate pre-departure cancellations may not be eligible for refunds under waiver terms. It’s essential to recognize that waivers are distinct from insurance policies.

Certain insurers provide supplementary coverage options for an additional fee. “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage offers partial reimbursement of trip costs regardless of the reason for cancellation. Additionally, some companies offer coverage for pre-existing conditions if trip cancellation occurs due to medical reasons, usually requiring an extra payment.

Baggage and personal belongings

Lost luggage insurance functions by providing reimbursement for baggage and personal belongings that are lost, stolen, or damaged while traveling. Additionally, certain policies may offer compensation for additional expenses incurred due to baggage delay beyond a specified duration, such as 12 hours.


It’s noteworthy that your renters or homeowners insurance might extend coverage to personal belongings during travel. It is advisable to review the terms of your homeowners insurance policy to ascertain the extent of coverage it offers, thereby avoiding redundant expenditures on benefits already provided by existing insurance arrangements.

Emergency medical assistance, evacuation and repatriation

This coverage entails the payment of medical expenses incurred in the event of illness or injury during travel. Medical evacuation coverage facilitates the transportation of individuals to the nearest appropriate medical facility, while medical repatriation coverage ensures the arrangement of air transportation to return individuals to their home country for medical treatment.

24-hour assistance

This service is a standard inclusion in numerous comprehensive travel insurance packages. It encompasses a 24-hour hotline provided by the insurer, offering assistance in various situations, including but not limited to booking flights following missed connections, facilitating the recovery of lost luggage, or arranging access to medical or legal services.

While most travel insurance policies encompass a broad spectrum of services, the specific offerings can differ. Certain plans may incorporate concierge services, extending support for restaurant recommendations, tee time reservations, and additional amenities. Moreover, many services furnish pre-trip information, such as advisories regarding necessary vaccinations. It is imperative to thoroughly review the policy documentation to ascertain the extent of coverage and included services.

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance

This coverage provides a lump-sum payment to a designated beneficiary, typically a family member, in the unfortunate event of the insured individual’s death resulting from an accident that occurs during the trip. Accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies additionally offer partial compensation to the insured individual in the event of specific losses, such as the loss of a hand, foot, limb, eyesight, speech, or hearing. Certain policies may limit coverage to accidental death that transpires during air travel.

Rental car coverage


Rental car insurance provides coverage for repairing your rental vehicle in the event of damage caused by accidents, vandalism, or natural disasters. It’s important to note that this coverage typically excludes liability insurance, which is responsible for covering damages to other vehicles or medical expenses of third parties in the event that you are deemed liable for an accident.

To determine whether your existing car insurance policy extends coverage to rental vehicles during your travels, it is advisable to consult with your insurance provider. Generally, U.S. car insurance policies do not offer coverage for driving in foreign countries, with the exception of Canada.

Navigating car insurance requirements can be intricate due to variations across different countries. While rental car companies typically offer liability insurance options, it’s prudent to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of your destination country. You can access information on car insurance regulations by consulting resources such as the auto insurance guidelines provided on the website of the U.S. Embassy.

A note about single vs. long-term policies

Single trip insurance plans are tailored for individuals embarking on a singular journey with a predetermined duration, such as a two-week vacation, before returning home. The premium for such policies typically correlates with the total cost of the trip.

Conversely, long-term travel insurance policies offer coverage for multiple trips, albeit with stipulated limitations concerning the duration of each trip, provisions for returning home during travels, and the overall number of trips permissible within the coverage period. Notably, trip cancellation and interruption coverage may either be unavailable or subject to a capped reimbursement amount, which might fall short of covering the aggregate expenses of all trips undertaken during the insured period.

Long-term travel insurance plans, commonly referred to as ‘multi-trip’ or ‘annual travel insurance,’ cater to frequent travelers who seek comprehensive coverage for all their journeys throughout the policy duration, thereby ensuring satisfaction with the provided level of trip cancellation protection.

How to get travel insurance


Outlined below are methodologies for acquiring travel insurance, accompanied by an evaluation of their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Credit cards

Certain credit cards provide trip cancellation and rental car insurance benefits when utilized for booking trips or rental cars.

A select few credit cards offer diverse levels of travel insurance coverage for transactions conducted with the card.

Travel agents and travel reservation sites

Travel insurance can be purchased concurrently with flight, hotel, and car rental bookings.

Pros: The acquisition process is streamlined, requiring a simple affirmative click during reservation confirmation. Additionally, the cost of coverage is typically affordable.

Cons: Customization options for coverage are limited.

Travel insurance comparison sites

You have the option to compare various policies and assess quotes simultaneously, leveraging the trip search criteria you’ve specified within the search form. Platforms such as Squaremouth or facilitate this process.

Pros: This approach enables you to select a policy that aligns with your specific requirements, offering the convenience of comparing multiple policies and pricing within a single platform.

Cons: Engaging in comprehensive policy comparisons entails a time investment.

Travel insurance companies

Travel insurance can be procured directly from an insurance provider.

Pros: This avenue affords the flexibility to select a policy tailored to your specific requirements. Additionally, many travel insurer websites furnish comprehensive information to facilitate comprehension of the coverage offered.

Cons: The process necessitates visiting multiple websites to conduct thorough comparisons of coverage and pricing.

What to look for in travel insurance


Consider the following recommendations when assessing a travel insurance policy:

1. Assess Your Financial Exposure: Evaluate the potential financial risks associated with your travels. Determine whether you can manage these expenses independently or if acquiring insurance is warranted.

2. Review Existing Coverage: Investigate the extent of coverage provided by your current arrangements. Determine if your credit card offers travel insurance, ascertain coverage under renters or homeowners insurance for personal belongings, and understand the scope of your health plan’s coverage across various travel destinations.

3. Obtain Online Quotes: Obtain quotes for travel insurance online. Customize your selection by choosing a package that aligns with your requirements, and compare prices for similar coverage options offered by different carriers.

4. Scrutinize Policy Details: Narrow down your options and thoroughly examine the policy fine print. Gain clarity on the coverage inclusions, exclusions, and limitations. It’s possible that the least expensive policy may impose overly restrictive terms, while slightly higher premiums could secure more comprehensive coverage. Alternatively, the most basic policy may suffice for your needs.

Best travel insurance comparison sites

If you are uncertain about selecting a provider, it is advisable to peruse a comprehensive list of plans available on a reputable travel insurance comparison site. These online marketplaces typically feature offerings from top-tier travel insurance companies, accompanied by customer reviews to aid in your decision-making process.




Utilize the platform to compare offerings from an extensive array of over 30 providers.
Access over 86,000 customer reviews, providing valuable insights into insurer performance.
Benefit from the Zero Complaint Guarantee, implemented by Squaremouth, a partner of NerdWallet, ensuring the removal of providers in the event of unresolved customer complaints.
Utilize the filter option to narrow down policies that specifically offer COVID-coverage.



    Evaluate offerings from a curated selection of 13 providers.
    Access comprehensive customer ratings and reviews for each insurer upon receiving quotes, aiding in informed decision-making.
    Leverage the “Learning Center” section featuring a wealth of travel insurance articles and tips, including essential how-to information.
    Quotes furnished by each provider include direct access to COVID-19 FAQs, streamlining the process for customers to review coverage details.

  • InsureMyTrip



    Evaluate offerings from over two dozen reputable providers.
    Access an extensive database of over 70,000 customer reviews, providing valuable insights into insurer performance.
    Benefit from the assistance of “Anytime Advocates” dedicated to guiding customers through the claims process and advocating on their behalf, including assistance with appealing denied claims.
    Easily locate plans offering COVID coverage through provided links.



    Evaluate offerings from 11 reputable providers.
    Efficiently search for coverage tailored to specific sporting activities, encompassing ground, air, and water sports.
    Choose from a diverse range of plans catering to various demographics, including students, visiting family members, new immigrants, individuals seeking COVID quarantine coverage, and more.

Which insurance company is best for travel insurance?

Whether you seek international travel insurance, emergency medical care, COVID coverage, or policies inclusive of extreme sports, these providers offer comprehensive solutions to meet your needs.

For a comprehensive analysis and further details about each organization, please refer to our in-depth report: The Best Travel Insurance Companies Today.


When to skip travel insurance

There are certain circumstances in which investing additional funds in travel insurance may not be justifiable, such as:

When you have purchased flexible airline tickets.
When your hotel reservation offers a favorable cancellation policy.
When travel insurance is already provided through your credit card.
When you have not made any reservations for nonrefundable activities.

The 5 other Best International Travel Insurance Companies for 2024

Amidst the increasing demand for international travel, the importance of purchasing travel insurance has become more pronounced than ever. Securing an international travel policy provides assurance that you will not incur financial losses in the event of trip cancellation, interruption, or baggage-related issues beyond your control orcruise line.

Leading international travel insurance policies offer additional protective benefits, including coverage for unexpected medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation. While some destinations may require travel insurance, many countries have relaxed such requirements initially implemented due to the pandemic.

U.S. News editors conducted a thorough comparison of over 20 top providers to identify the best travel insurance companies for global trips. The policies outlined below serve as a reliable starting point for individuals seeking optimal international travel medical coverage in 2024.

1. Allianz Travel Insurance: Renowned for its expansive global coverage and adaptable plans, Allianz offers a diverse range of options tailored to various traveler profiles and activities.

2. AIG Travel Guard: Trusted for its comprehensive coverage and customizable plans, AIG Travel Guard is a preferred choice for travelers seeking protection against a wide array of emergencies, including trip cancellations, medical expenses, and lost luggage.

3. Generali Global Assistance: Generali offers comprehensive travel insurance solutions with flexible coverage options, encompassing medical emergencies, trip interruptions, and travel assistance services.

4. World Nomads Travel Insurance: Embraced by adventurous travelers, World Nomads provides specialized coverage for activities such as hiking, diving, and skiing, catering to those in search of thorough protection during adventurous excursions.

5. GeoBlue: Specializing in international health insurance, GeoBlue delivers high-quality medical coverage for travelers outside their home country. Their plans feature access to an extensive network of healthcare providers worldwide, ensuring peace of mind throughout international travels.

Frequently asked questions


Is travel insurance worth getting?

Indeed, particularly for nonrefundable trips and travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether acquiring a comprehensive travel insurance policy or utilizing coverage provided by your credit card, it is imperative not to embark on travel without some form of travel protection in place. Travel insurance serves as a vital safeguard against unforeseen emergencies, including flight cancellations due to inclement weather, medical incidents necessitating hospitalization, lost luggage, and other unforeseen circumstances.

What is the best travel insurance company?

Numerous reputable travel insurance policies are available, with suitability varying based on individual needs and trip particulars. Identifying the optimal plan hinges on the desired coverage and specific trip details.

For instance, World Nomads offers a comprehensive travel insurance policy tailored to adventurous activities, ensuring robust coverage for such pursuits. Alternatively, Allianz provides flexible coverage options for trips of varying durations, spanning both single trip and multi-trip plans.

Certain providers extend additional options like Cancel For Any Reason travel insurance, enhancing flexibility for travelers. For those seeking guidance in selecting a suitable plan, perusing trip insurance comparison platforms such as Squaremouth or Insuremytrip can be beneficial.

Can I purchase travel insurance after booking?

Yes, it is possible to purchase travel insurance at a later stage. Nevertheless, it is advisable to procure it promptly after booking your trip, as the coverage commences immediately upon policy acquisition.

For instance, consider a scenario where you have planned a trip scheduled to commence in a month’s time. However, a week before departure, you sustain an injury, such as breaking your leg. If you have already purchased a travel insurance policy…, you can use your trip cancellation benefits to get your nonrefundable deposit back.

What does my travel insurance cover?

The majority of comprehensive travel insurance plans encompass a range of essential coverage components, including trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical and dental, medical evacuation, trip delay, and lost luggage protection. While many plans include COVID coverage, it is advisable to verify that the selected policy provides this benefit, particularly when traveling during the current circumstances. Additionally, certain plans may offer the option to augment coverage with features such as Cancel For Any Reason travel insurance.

Does my credit card cover travel insurance?

The extent of travel insurance benefits available varies depending on the credit card you possess. Premium travel cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express offer insurance benefits when booking a trip using the card or points.

However, it’s important to note that the coverage provided by credit cards typically falls short compared to standalone policies. Prior to opting out of purchasing a separate plan, carefully review the travel insurance benefits offered by your credit card and ensure that the limits meet your requirements.

Which countries require travel insurance?


While many countries enforced mandatory travel insurance for visitors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority have since relaxed entry requirements and eliminated this condition. However, several countries still maintain the mandate for international visitors to possess travel insurance, including:

Antarctica: Cruise lines and tour operators typically require travel medical insurance for Antarctic trips, with a standard minimum coverage of $100,000 for emergency medical and evacuation purposes.
Ecuador: While travel insurance is not obligatory for visits to Ecuador, medical coverage is required for trips to the Galápagos Islands.
Qatar: Travelers planning stays exceeding 30 days in Qatar must hold a travel insurance policy approved by the country’s Ministry of Public Health.
Saudi Arabia: Visitors from eligible countries traveling to Saudi Arabia are obligated to purchase an eVisa, which includes compulsory travel insurance coverage.

How does international travel insurance work?

International travel insurance functions similarly to domestic travel insurance, encompassing diverse coverage options and limits, with the potential inclusion of deductibles. Travelers can opt for international travel insurance for single trips or multiple trips, with certain providers offering long-term plans tailored for expatriates and missionaries.

What should you look for in an international travel insurance policy?

While travel insurance policies encompass a wide array of coverages, the key protections essential for international trips are as follows:

1. Trip cancellation and interruption coverage: This provision reimburses prepaid travel expenses if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to a covered reason beyond the traveler’s control.
2. Baggage delay insurance: This coverage compensates for incidental expenses incurred due to baggage delay exceeding a specified duration (typically six hours or more).
3. Lost luggage coverage: This safeguard either replaces lost luggage and belongings or reimburses associated costs in case of loss by a common carrier.
4. Rental car insurance: This insurance may offer primary coverage for eligible rental car rentals.
5. Emergency medical and dental coverage: This insurance covers emergency medical treatment or dental expenses during the trip.
6. Emergency evacuation coverage: This protection covers emergency transportation expenses in case of illness or injury during the trip.

Furthermore, many travelers opt for travel insurance with cancel for any reason (CFAR) protection, enabling trip cancellation for any reason whatsoever, albeit at an increased premium. However, most plans impose limits on the refundable portion of prepaid travel expenses, typically capped between 60% to 80% of the trip costs.

What doesn’t international travel insurance typically cover?

While international travel insurance plans typically offer extensive coverage, it’s important to recognize that they do not encompass every conceivable situation. Some common exclusions from international travel insurance plans include:

1. Acts of war
2. Claims arising from air or water pollution
3. Claims stemming from natural disasters
4. Epidemics not explicitly included in coverage
5. Extreme or high-risk sports
6. Government regulations or proclamations
7. Nuclear radiation and contamination
8. Terrorist events
9. Travel bulletins or alerts

It’s crucial for travelers to review their policy documents thoroughly to understand the specific exclusions applicable to their coverage.

Should I use international travel insurance from a credit card?


Numerous travel credit cards provide international travel insurance benefits, albeit with certain limitations. It’s important to understand that these coverages often offer restricted benefits, particularly for medical and dental emergencies. Additionally, coverage typically applies only when the trip is paid for using the respective travel credit card.

What is the best international health insurance?

Selecting the optimal international health insurance plan hinges on various factors, including the duration of your trip, destination, and required coverage extent. While obtaining quotes from multiple companies is an option, platforms such as and Squaremouth streamline the process by allowing users to compare coverage specifics, limits, and pricing from multiple providers within a single interface.

How much does international travel insurance cost?

The pricing of international travel insurance is subject to variation and may be influenced by factors such as age, trip duration, total trip expenses, and other variables. To gauge the cost of coverage for your upcoming travel arrangements, it is advisable to obtain multiple travel insurance quotes via platforms like

Amy Danise

Amy Danise is the managing editor for and Forbes Advisor's insurance section, covering auto, home, renters, life, pet, travel, health, and small business insurance. With over 30 years in the insurance sector, she specializes in simplifying complex insurance topics into actionable information. Amy collaborates with her team to translate insurance jargon into clear language for consumers, helping them understand insurance costs and find top-rated companies. Leveraging her extensive industry contacts, she develops Forbes Advisor's insurance content and analyzes state regulatory filings for insights. Amy's expertise has earned her features in major news outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She holds a Bachelor's degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University.

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