Last Updated: 5/8/21 | may 8th, 2021
Travel insurance is one of the most important things you need when you travel — yet it’s often overlooked.
You wouldn’t drive a automobile without automobile insurance or own a home without home insurance. Why would you risk traveling the world without travel insurance?
While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, travel insurance provides a vital safety net when you’re abroad.
Illness and injury, canceled flights, damaged electronics, lost luggage, the death of a family member back home — these are all covered by travel insurance.
In a nutshell, travel insurance is an all-purpose emergency coverage plan. It’s the single most important thing you should get for your trip and something I strongly, strongly encourage travelers to never leave home without. I’ve seen it help so many people over the years – people who would have been out thousands of dollars otherwise.
I used it for a doctor in Argentina, when my cam broke in Italy, when my eardrum popped in Thailand, and when my luggage was stolen in South Africa.
Each time I was reimbursed for my expenses and was made whole again.
Travel insurance was there when my pal had to be helicoptered out of the Amazon after he fell off a boat, when another friend’s daddy died and she had to fly home, and when another pal got her bag stolen.
Travel insurance is designed to make sure you don’t lose a ton of money if an emergency happens abroad. since most health insurance programs don’t cover you overseas and travel credit scores cards offer limited protection, buying travel insurance is something you absolutely need to protect you against the unknown.
Since travel insurance is one of the most complex, important, and confusing aspects of trip planning, I want to break it down for you, help you understand what it is about, and show you how to pick the best travel insurance plans in just a few steps!
Quick Overview: the best insurance Companies
Best overall travel Insurance
Best travel insurance for Seniors
Insure My Trip
Best Expat travel Insurance
IM global Insurance
Most detailed Plans
What to look For in a travel insurance Plan
What’s NOT Covered
Travel insurance Loopholes
The 6 best travel insurance Companies
When You should get a Plan
What to look For in a great travel insurance Plan
Insurance is a billion-dollar service and everyone wants their hand in the cookie jar. Consequently, you face a mind-numbing number of companies, policies, and terminology that can be confusing and overwhelming.
And, in the fine print, you’ll often discover that plans aren’t as good as they initially appear.
So, what should you do?
First, make sure your travel insurance offers a high coverage limit on your medical expenses. A good company will provide up to $100,000 USD in coverage care, though more expensive policies will cover you for higher amounts. The maximum coverage limit you can find is around $2,000,000 USD, though I’m not sure why you would ever need a limit that large.
High coverage limits are important because if you get sick, injured, or need serious attention and have to seek professional care, you want to make sure your high hospital bills are covered. the worst thing you can do is go low-cost and get a policy with a $20,000 USD coverage limit, break a leg, and reach that limit before they are done taking care of you. Don’t be low-cost with your health. make sure you have coverage for at least $100,000 USD.
Second, you want to make sure your travel insurance policy also covers emergency evacuation and care that is separate from your medical coverage. If you are hiking in the woods and you break your leg, your policy should cover your evacuation to the nearest acceptable medical facility.
If a natural disaster occurs and you need to be evacuated to somewhere else, your plan should cover that as well. This protection should cover an expense of up to $300,000 USD.
Additionally, make sure you understand if your evacuation coverage will pay for you to get home or if it will just send you to the nearest acceptable facility.
For example, if you break your leg abroad, most insurance policies will pay for your hospital bills. However, they won’t pay for you to get home since it’s not a life-threatening injury requiring advanced care.
Standard emergency evacuation coverage frequently only moves you if your current facility is inadequate or if it’s “medically necessary.” only then will they pay for a flight home.
In short, double-check if your company will cover the cost of your flight back home if you need it.
If you’d prefer not to stay in a foreign hospital for treatment and recovery, you should look into a medical transport membership program like Medjet. They make sure that, should you be hospitalized abroad, you’ll be able to be repatriated — something many travel insurance policies can’t guarantee.
Third, great travel insurance plans always include the following provisions:
Coverage for most countries in the world (including the places you plan on visiting).
Some coverage for your electronics (and have the option for a higher coverage limit).
Coverage for injury and sudden illnesses.
Offer 24/7 help (you don’t want to call to be told to call back later).
Coverage for lost, damaged, or stolen possessions like jewelry, baggage, documents, etc.
Coverage for cancellations for hotels, flights, and other transportation bookings if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or some other emergency.
Coverage for political emergencies, natural disasters, or strife in the country that cause you to head home early.
Financial protection if any company you are using goes bankrupt and you are stuck in another country.
A quick note on electronics: most companies only have a small limit (usually up to $500 USD per item), as part of their basic coverage. You can often get supplemental insurance to get a higher amount of coverage.
Moreover, many regular and home insurance companies (such as state Farm) offer insurance plans that can help you cover your electronics.
If you’re traveling with a camera, laptop, phone, and other electronics, make sure you have suitable coverage. They’re usually the things most likely to be lost, get stolen, or break.
What’s Not covered By Your travel Insurance
Just as important as knowing what your plan covers is knowing what it doesn’t cover. generally speaking, most plans don’t cover:
Accidents sustained while participating in extreme adventure activities such as hang gliding, paragliding, or bungee jumping (unless you pay for extra coverage).
Alcohol- or drug-related incidents.
Carelessness in handling your possessions and baggage.
Recklessness (how “reckless” is defined is a matter up to each company).
Pre-existing conditions or general check-ups. For example, if you have diabetes and need to get more insulin, you won’t be covered. If you want to go see a doctor for a general check-up, you aren’t covered either.
Lost or stolen cash.
Your theft coverage won’t cover you if you left something in plain sight or unattended.
If civil unrest makes your destination unsafe but your government hasn’t called for an evacuation, you’re probably out of luck too.
Travel insurance Loopholes: What To look For
Even the best travel insurance have their limits. Often, in the fine print, you’ll find that plans aren’t as good as you thought.
The medical portion of travel insurance is more about emergency care than being a replacement for your normal healthcare. A lot of people purchase travel insurance get disappointed when they find out they can’t go get an annual physical with it.
Remember, you get what you pay for. maybe you see two companies offer similar plans but one is really cheap?
Usually, it’s because the devil is in the details and they have smaller payouts, take longer to process claims, deny more people, or have so many rules in the fine print that it turns out you aren’t going to get paid when you think you are!
Travel insurance is accident insurance. It is there to protect you in case of emergency and, if need be, get you home in a hurry. If you want a global health plan (because you’re now an expat living abroad), you need a completely different type of plan.
Here’s a helpful chart that summarizes common concerns and the corresponding coverage you’ll need. use it to help you find a suitable travel insurance plan:
Include this in your travel insurance policy:
Payment for expenses if you get sick or injured on a trip
Travel medical and accident coverage
To be taken to the nearest hospital or flown home if necessary
Emergency evacuation and repatriation
Reimbursement if you get sick and have to cancel or end your trip early
Trip cancellation and trip interruption
Payment for lost, stolen or damaged luggage or goods
Theft and lost baggage overage
Help finding a doctor abroad
Payment for rental automobile damage
Car collision insurance (CDW)
The 5 best travel insurance Companies
The world is filled with insurance companies. You’re going to come across hundreds ofs them in your search for a reliable and cost effective provider. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, I’m going to list my favorites.
Below are the companies I would be ok with my mother using. If you’ve found a company and it’s not listed here, it’s because I wouldn’t use them. I’ve researched hundreds of policies over the last ten years and have found the following companies to be reliable:
The #1 travel insurance company for Travelers!
My favorite company is safety Wing. safety Wing offers convenient and cost effective plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have low-cost monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.I use them because I can purchase and renew my insurance policy online in a matter of minutes, they have a very friendly and responsive staff who answer questions and help solve problems via social media, they have great customer feedback, and most importantly, they provide a lot of coverage at a fair price.
Other good travel insurance companies to consider
Best for people living overseas
The closest thing to normal health insurance
Available for non-US residents
Dozens of policies to choose from
Short-term and annual plans
Extensive medical transport coverage
Available for residents of USA, Canada, and Mexico
Limited time spent in foreign medical facilities
Very comprenseive plans
Can purchase plans while abroad
Claims can be filed online
Coverage for COVID-19
Compare plans from 23 providers
Best option for travelers over 65
“Anytime Advocates” ask insurer to give your claim a second look if you think it was unfairly denied
Guaranteed low prices
Buy Your travel insurance As soon As Possible
You can get travel insurance up until the day you leave for a trip (since it usually takes 24-48 hours to kick). Some companies, like safety Wing, allow you to get plans abroad. You can get travel insurance even after you’ve booked your flight, so long as the policy is activated before you depart.
Even though you can wait until you leave, it’s best to get your travel insurance as soon as possible. every day you wait, there’s a chance something could happen and you can’t get a travel insurance after something goes wrong.
If a hurricane ruins your trip, your travel insurance would only cover you if you bought it before the hurricane formed. get a plan the day after you go to the doctor but before he tells you you’re sick? Your plan won’t cover you since your original visit happened before the plan.
Don’t wait to get insurance. I’ve seen it happen too often. The second you know you are going somewhere and have the dates, get travel insurance!
You don’t want to end up like my pal in Peru, who decided against coverage, only to break her arm and have to spend lots of money to get it fixed in Lima.
A note on COVID-19 (and other Pandemics)
As many travelers learned the hard way, most travel insurance policies do not cover pandemics. until now, that really hasn’t been a worry for most travelers. Heck, prior to this year I never really gave the “pandemic clause” much thought when reading my insurance policies.
However, these days pandemic coverage is at the forefront of every traveler’s mind (and rightly so).
Fortunately, as insurance companies adapt to our new reality, some companies now provide limited coverage for COVID-19 (or other pandemics). This limited coverage usually includes trip cancelation or delay (as is the case with world Nomads, though they also have some medical coverage for COVID) or transportation home (as is the case with Medjet). SafetyWing also provides coverage for COVID-19.
Before you get a plan anywhere, be sure to read the fine print regarding pandemics and COVID-19. Make sure you fully understand what is and is not included so you can take proper action should a situation arise. When in doubt, call them and speak to a representative. Don’t risk your health on assumptions!
Final Thoughts: Why buying travel insurance is a Must
I know you’re thinking right now, “Ok, I know what travel insurance is now…but do I reallyneed it?”
The answer is yes.
For one simple reason: you aren’t Superman or wonder Woman. Over a decade of traveling the world has taught me that accidents happen. You may be in perfect health right now but can you say 100% you won’t get sick in the jungle of Asia or hurt climbing a mountain in Africa?
Can you say no one will steal your stuff in Spain or Italy or that you won’t pop an eardrum diving in Tahiti?
Can you sa