Here’s What You Need to Know About Your Travel Insurance Options
Travel insurance gives you the ability to minimize your travel-related losses in the event of a covered incident. For example, purchasing trip-interruption or trip-cancellation insurance enables you to recoup most of your ticket price if you cannot board your booked flight. However, you must be able to verify that a qualifying issue derailed your plans, such as the death of a family member or losing your job. Having this protection can make a big difference in any trip, but it’s especially crucial for an exorbitantly expensive, once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Of course, each travel insurance company has pros and cons, and you may not need to purchase as much insurance as they suggest. According to travel writer Rick Steves, travel insurance can be a good deal, but it’s wise to check with your credit card company and health insurance provider to figure out exactly what type of policy will provide the best (additional) coverage.
Types of Travel Insurance
Before we discuss the pros and cons of several major travel insurance providers, let’s take a quick look at the types of insurance they offer:
- Interruption or Trip-Cancellation Insurance – As the name suggests, buying one of these policies will minimize your losses if you suffer from a qualifying event that cancels or interrupts your travel plans. More than 94 percent of people who buy travel insurance will choose this option.
- Theft Protection – Are you taking expensive camera equipment or jewelry with you? Theft protection may be a good idea if your homeowners’ or renters’ policy doesn’t cover losses related to travel theft.
- Medical Insurance – Your existing medical policy may cover you abroad, but this isn’t always the case. For instance, anyone with Medicare will not be covered if they travel internationally. If you’re concerned about suffering from a health issue while on vacation, you can purchase a special medical insurance policy for travelers.
- Crash Insurance or Wrongful Death Insurance – This is a policy that pays your heir if you die in a plane crash. The odds of this happening are minuscule, so most people opt not to buy this policy. To put things into perspective, there were zero commercial passenger airplane fatalities in 2017.
Other policy types you may be offered include baggage insurance, evacuation insurance and collision coverage for rental cars.
Selecting a Provider
There are numerous travel insurance providers available. We’ve compiled a list of eight of the most well-known companies to help you figure out which policy and provider best suits your needs.
We used the same details when searching through each provider’s website. This enabled us to level the playing field in terms of the pricing and options we were offered.
Our sample trip was an eight-day vacation to the United Kingdom from Michigan. We indicated that there were two adults traveling, and the total insured value of the trip was $5,000. If you’re looking for coverage for only one adult, the pricing indicated for our sample trip would be reduced by approximately 50 percent.
TravelInsurance.com isn’t actually an insurance provider. Instead, they serve as a middleman for providers and travelers. The format is similar to other travel sites such as Expedia and Hotels.com. After you enter your trip details, TravelInsurance.com will provide you with a list of insurers.
Your customized list will initially be sorted from highest to lowest, which might seem a bit counterintuitive for consumers who are looking for the best possible price. However, the policies on the higher end typically include several types of travel insurance in one package. Therefore, if you’re looking for trip cancellation and interruption, medical evacuation, medical care, baggage, flight and accidental death insurance, you’ll most likely find the best deal by buying them all at once.
SAMPLE TRIP – Insurance rates varied dramatically, from $36.40 for just medical insurance to $420 for every possible type of travel insurance in one package.
- Ability to look through multiple providers at once.
- Each provider has a listed rating from A.M. Best.
- Customer reviews and recommendation rates are available for each provider.
- TravelInsurance.com offers a price guarantee.
- You can filter the search results to look for one specific policy type.
- An almost dizzying amount of options makes it difficult to quickly choose a policy.
- The site’s customer service is only for site-related issues. They don’t handle any issues involving claims.
Other things you’ll love about this site include a handy Learning Center and a blog full of travel tips. We were also impressed with the site’s dedication to customer service, which has gained TravelInsurance.com an A+ Accredited Business rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Travelex is an individual provider. Their policy search engine doesn’t ask nearly as many questions as the one on TravelInsurance.com. Depending on your point of view, this could be a good or bad thing. However, we wondered if this lack of detail had a negative impact on the price quote. After all, it stands to reason that certain things, including medical insurance, may need to vary based on your destination. Aside from this concern, we found the Travelex site to be relatively straightforward and easy to use.
SAMPLE TRIP – The details of our test trip from Michigan to the U.K. revealed plans ranging from $34 to $182.
- Minimal data is needed to get a quote.
- Travel Select plans cover children 17 and under for no additional fee.
- Plan documents, requested changes and claims can all be accessed online.
- There’s a comprehensive breakdown of each benefit you’ll receive with your policy.
- Most travelers can opt for upgrades such as Adventure Sports coverage.
- The quote screen is a bit confusing. It’s not immediately clear how to switch between a full vacation plan or one that’s only for flights.
- If you don’t purchase your travel insurance within 15 to 21 days after making your first trip payment, you won’t have medical coverage for any preexisting conditions.
Much like TravelInsurance.com, Travelex has made an impressive commitment to pleasing consumers and honoring policies. Consumers Advocate has ranked Travelex as one of the top 10 travel insurance providers. The company received a 9.4/10 rating from Consumers Advocate, along with a perfect 10/10 for customer service.
RoamRight offers three primary travel insurance programs: Essential, Preferred and Elite. The program you choose determines what level of coverage you have in a wide variety of categories. For example, people who choose the Essential plan are not able to take advantage of the Cancel for Any Reason Upgrade. Those who opt for the Preferred or Elite program can add this extra coverage, and it will cover up to 75 percent of the trip cost.
SAMPLE TRIP – Prices ranged from $230-$420. At $264, it’s not surprising that the Preferred program is listed as RoamRight’s most popular plan. The $34 difference between this and the Essential program adds several features, including the ability to be fully reimbursed for your trip expenses if you have to cancel due to losing your job.
- Every plan includes one child per covered adult. In our sample, there were two adult passengers, so they’d be able to get equal coverage for up to two children at no additional cost.
- Upgrades are available to help you create a custom policy.
- RoamRight can send you a reminder to purchase your policy before the cut-off date.
- The site saves your quotes, thereby avoiding the inconvenience of having to perform the same search multiple times.
- You cannot see the cost of each optional upgrade until after you choose a policy.
- RoamRight is underwritten by an insurance company, which means you have to deal with two groups to make a claim.
Consumers Advocate gave RoamRight a 9.3/10 rating. This travel insurance company is also listed as one of the top 10 travel insurers in the country.
World Nomads has been offering travel insurance since 1999. Their tagline, Explore Your Boundaries, helps embody the general spirit of their website and company policies. Much like TravelInsurance.com, this site asks for more extensive details about your trip before you’re provided with a quote.
World Nomads is also much more than a standard travel insurance website. The company raises money for charity, provides an online community for travelers and helps creative individuals see the world for free.
SAMPLE TRIP – Our two sample travelers headed to the U.K. were quoted a combined $157.23 for a Standard Plan or $215.86 for an Explorer Plan. Both of these plans include coverage for trip cancellation and interruptions, along with medical and dental insurance, emergency evacuation, adventure sports and much more.
- Most adventure sports and activities are covered.
- All plans include One Call 24-hour assistance from multilingual professionals.
- WorldNomads has a mission to give back to the world. Travelers are encouraged to make a donation of at least $2 to the cause of their choice.
- Writers, photographers and filmmakers can apply for travel scholarships. These programs include a mentor.
- The site uses a non-standard calendar layout. Weeks are listed as Monday–Sunday instead of Sunday–Saturday. Be careful when selecting your travel dates.
- Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.
The reviewers at Aardvark Compare have pointed out that World Nomads specializes in creating policies for adventure travelers. Due to this, they can provide a good value for travelers who are going off the beaten path or who plan to participate in adventure sports.
Allianz is backed by the European financial services company of the same name. This provider offers all the standard policy terms as every other company, but they do have one big difference: Instead of merely choosing a policy for each individual trip, frequent travelers can purchase an annual plan.
Each annual plan includes Rental Car Damage Protector. Our sample travelers were offered the Annual Basic plan for a combined $250. This policy doesn’t include trip cancellation coverage, but all other plans do.
SAMPLE TRIP – Interestingly, two of the plans we were offered for a single trip were more expensive than the Annual Basic policy. Of course, trip cancellation was included with all these single plans, along with extras such as medical insurance that includes pre-existing conditions. Prices ranged from $192 to $352.
- Unique option to choose between one-time or annual plans.
- Some plans include a free child for each paid adult.
- Most companies offer three policies to choose from. Allianz has nine policy options.
- Claims can be filed and managed online.
- Plans start as low as $17 per person.
- You cannot see the pricing of each policy when you conduct a search.
- Policy lists don’t show in-depth details on every aspect of each program.
InsureMyTrip has collected thousands of reviews from travelers who have used Allianz. The company has a robust 4.5/5 rating. The top-rated individual program is the Classic Trip Plus policy, which is designed for families traveling with kids.
Are you concerned about your health while traveling domestically or internationally? Does the threat of natural disasters, violent crime and terrorism concern you more than normal travel interruptions? Medjet takes a different approach to travel insurance. Not only do they focus primarily on medical and evacuation insurance, but they offer their plans through an annual membership.
Medjet has two membership plans: MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon.
MedjetAssist is an air medical transport insurance policy that will provide a medical evacuation to the hospital or location of your choice as long as you’re at least 150 miles away from home.
MedjetHorizon is a medical, security and crisis response policy. This enhanced plan includes MedjetAssist features. It also offers up to a $60,000 advance for emergency medical cash. The travel security network provides assistance for everything from a kidnapping ransom to a natural disaster.
SAMPLE TRIP – Medjet doesn’t offer insurance for trip cancellations, missing luggage, etc., nor do they base their prices on your destination or trip length. However, they do offer a short-term, eight-day medical travel policy. For two people, this is $195. Annual memberships start at $395 for a family of two or more.
- This unique program covers many medical- and emergency-related issues that other policies don’t include.
- Ability to choose between short-term or annual memberships.
- Ability to purchase programs for one person or a family. Family plans cover up to two adults and five children.
- MedjetAssist may be an ideal policy for people with health conditions.
- Policies don’t include regular medical or any other typical travel-related concerns.
- People who enroll in MedjetAssist will also need to purchase a separate policy from another company if they want cancellation or interruption insurance.
- Individuals who are 75-84 must enroll in the Diamond Medical Transportation Service at a higher fee.
- Medjet doesn’t own their own medical aircraft, so they have to rely on partners around the world to provide these services.
MedjetAssist has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau and currently has an A+ rating. This provider may be best suited for individuals with a history of serious medical issues. The MedjetHorizon program may be best for those who have a lot of money or fame.
AIG Travel Guard
AIG Travel Guard was founded in 1982, which makes it one of the oldest operational travel insurance companies. Travelers can choose between three programs: Silver, Gold and Platinum. As their names suggest, the highest level of coverage is offered to those who select a Platinum policy. Satisfaction is guaranteed, and most consumers can get a refund if they change their minds. Residents of New York are a notable exception and are ineligible for a refund.
SAMPLE TRIP – The two people taking our sample trip can select an insurance plan that costs between $227 and $379. All these plans include trip cancellation or interruption coverage, along with medical expenses, emergency evacuation and several other standard features. None of the plans include every possible insurance rider that AIG Travel Guard offers. To get truly comprehensive coverage, you’ll need to select several upgrades.
- AIG Travel Guard has a long, proven history.
- This site actually breaks down the expenses per traveler.
- Claims can be filed online.
- Claims assistance is available 24/7.
- Comes with a satisfaction guarantee.
- No plan can be configured to include every possible upgrade. You’ll have to choose carefully to get the right level of protection.
- The Platinum plan is the most expensive, and it’s also the only plan that doesn’t include children at no extra cost.
- The website’s overview of each plan doesn’t indicate how much coverage is included for several policy points.
- The satisfaction guarantee doesn’t include New York residents.
According to InsureMyTrip, AIG Travel Guard insures at least 6 million travelers annually. This makes AIG the largest U.S.-based travel insurance provider. InsureMyTrip has collected almost 5,000 user reviews, and AIG Travel Guard has a 4.5/5 rating and a 97 percent recommendation rate.
Berkshire-Hathaway Travel Insurance
Berkshire-Hathaway Travel Insurance enables consumers to search for exactly what they need after completing the initial application. For example, selecting all the available options highlighted the fact that only the Exact Care Extra program covers everything.
One of the most intriguing things about this company’s discount plan is that Aircare offers $1,000 per person if you’re stuck on the tarmac for more than two hours. You can also get $250 per person if your flight is canceled by the airline. On the other hand, this policy would cost our sample travelers a combined $93, but it provides zero coverage if you have to cancel your flight.
SAMPLE TRIP – Berkshire-Hathaway Travel Insurance asked our fictional travelers for more information than any other company. One notable difference was a request for how many connecting flights would be used. The quoted price includes all our previous details and the addition of a nonstop flight.
The most basic program, Aircare, was quoted at only $93 for both travelers. The highest price, for Exact Care Extra, was $316.
- Claims can be submitted online or via an app 24/7.
- You can submit photos via the app to back up your claims.
- Concierge services are available 24/7.
- Additional coverage can be added up until your flight leaves.
- There are numerous exclusions and limitations with each policy. Be sure to review this carefully before making a purchase.
- You have to purchase one of the upgraded programs to get protection for trip cancellation or interruptions.
Berkshire-Hathaway Travel Insurance received an 8.8/10 rating from Consumers Advocate.
As you can see, there are numerous things to consider when purchasing travel insurance. If you’re looking for convenience, TravelInsurance.com may be your best bet because it provides pricing information in one easy location for many of the providers listed above. However, looking through each individual website may be the best way to ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for. The best approach, then, would be to use the aggregator site TravelInsurance.com to narrow down your list of choices, and then go to the actual insurance company sites that look to have the best options for your trip to get more detailed info before making your decision.