A Comprehensive Guide To Travel Insurance

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Did you know there are 9 different types of travel insurance? In this guide, we’ll compare each type of insurance, how the coverage works, and help fellow travelers find the perfect policy for their upcoming trip.

This guide will answer the questions:

  • Do I need travel insurance?
  • What travel insurance should I get?
  • How much is travel medical insurance?
  • Which is the best travel insurance?
  • What is the best travel insurance company?
  • How do I purchase travel insurance?
  • What travel medical insurance is the best?
  • Is there a student discount?

If you are seeking:

What Is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance protects an upcoming trip against interruptions, cancellations, flight delays, lost luggage, and limited medical coverage. The cost is based on the state of residence, the full cost of the trip, age, departure date, return date, and the initial deposit. Travel plans can cost as little as a few dollars a day.

Travel Insurance Types

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance (trip insurance) is the standard, basic type of insurance covering trip cancellations, flight delays, lost luggage, and limited medical coverage. Only the trip itself is insured. Travelers may receive limited coverage through their credit card, airline, or comprehensive plans through a travel insurance company.

Travel insurance policies are designed for both domestic and international travel.

Travel Insurance

Shop and compare domestic trip interruption and cancellation insurance.

Travel Medical Insurance

Travel Medical Insurance (international travel insurance) is a more comprehensive coverage plan to cover any expenses in case of a medical emergency, sickness, or injury once the traveler leaves their home country on vacation in the short term. Basically, it’s a hybrid of traditional travel insurance and a health insurance plan designed specifically for international travel

Domestic health insurance benefits typically do not cover any medical expenses internationally, which means all expenses are out of pocket once the traveler leaves their home country. Recently, there have been incidents where hospitals in foreign countries won’t let the patient leave until the bill is paid in full, in cash. The local police have been called in as well.

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Travel medical insurance policies also offer additional coverage for evacuations, medical repatriation, and natural disasters as well.

Travel Medical Insurance

Shop and compare health insurance for short-term international travel.

International Health Insurance

International health insurance is the best travel insurance for long-term travel. International Health Insurance covers travelers medically for the long term. An example would be if someone were relocating to another country for 12 months or longer. Since the expatriate typically can’t purchase a domestic health plan while living abroad, the traveler would purchase long-term major medical coverage as a substitute.

International Health Insurance is also known as Expat Insurance.

International Health Insurance

Shop and compare health insurance plans for relocating or living abroad long-term.

Senior Travel Insurance

Senior Travel Insurance is a form of travel health insurance designed specifically for U.S. residents over 65. They are actively enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and enrolled in a Medigap Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan.

Buy travel insurance for seniors in our marketplace.

International Student Health Insurance

If a student, scholar, or exchange student is studying in a foreign countryInternational Student Health Insurance will offer medical expense coverage abroad.

The student travel insurance policies will also cover students traveling for organized sports as well.

Compare travel medical and international health insurance plans for students in our marketplace.

Missionary Insurance

Missionary Insurance can be travel medical insurance (Short-Term Mission Trip) or International Health Insurance (Long-Term Mission Trip). The health insurance coverage is designed specifically for missionaries or global citizens serving in an underdeveloped country or disaster area.

Insurance for International Business

International Business Health Insurance is a form of International Health Insurance designed specifically for businesses that assign employees internationally. Employers need to provide health insurance coverage while the employee is away because its employer-sponsored group health insurance does not cover employees while working internationally. This liability insurance coverage protects the employee from accidents, injury, and illness while working abroad.

Marine Medical Insurance

Marine Medical Insurance is a form of International Health Insurance designed specifically for a boat captain or professional crew member (cruise ship, yacht, etc.) that travels all over the world into international waters, including multiple countries, all by boat. The captain or crew member will need to be covered not by a specific country but the majority of the world, if not entire global coverage. This is where Marine Medical Insurance comes into play.

Visitors Insurance

Visitors Insurance is a unique type of international insurance created specifically for tourists and immigrants visiting or relocating to the United States. The U.S.A. has some of the most expensive healthcare globally, and Visitors Insurance covers just that.

Travel Assistance Services

The insurance typically offers emergency travel assistance and concierge services to you while on your trip 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which include:

  • Emergency Travel Arrangements
  • Medical Treatment Referral
  • Lost Passports
  • Lost Travel Documents Assistance
  • 24-Hour Medical Care Monitoring
  • Lost Luggage and Personal Belongings Assistance
  • Emergency Cash Transfer
  • Embassy or Consulate Referrals
  • Legal Professional Referrals
  • Emergency Message Relay Service
  • Emergency Translations
  • Emergency Prescription Drugs Replacement

Benefits

Travel insurance providers offer a standard checklist of benefits for purchasing the coverage, which includes:

  • Trip Cancellation, Delay, and Interruption Coverage
  • Missed Connections
  • Change Fees
  • Reimbursement of Miles or Reward Points
  • Lost Baggage Insurance and Personal Property
  • Pre-Existing Condition Waivers
  • Accident and Sickness Medical Bills
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance
  • Common Carrier Accidental Death & Dismemberment (Flight Accident Insurance)
  • Search and Rescues
  • Sports Equipment Renters and Rental Car Insurance


Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance

Trip cancellation and interruption coverage are staples in travel insurance, providing peace of mind in case of disruption. Below are examples that might be covered. Plans vary, so please read your plan when purchasing.

  • Health-Related: If the primary traveler or a traveling companion is seriously ill or sick, bodily injury or death the insured, a family member, a travel companion, a business partner, or a child’s caregiver, or if the traveler is involved in a quarantine.
  • Death: If the traveler, a traveling companion, or a family member dies before the upcoming covered trip.
  • Family Emergency: If the traveler or your travel companion has a family emergency, coverage could be available.
  • Theft: Coverage is typically offered if a documented case of theft of your passport or visa.
  • Destination’s Environment: If the primary residence or the traveler’s travel destination is rendered uninhabitable due to a natural disaster, fire, vandalism, or burglary.
  • Trip and Accommodations Cancellation: If you’re a travel provider or supplier, have canceled all services at least 24 hours before departing, arriving, or making a connection because of a natural disaster, severe weather, or a strike. There has been an evacuation due to natural disasters or a hurricane warning at your destination.
  • Canceled Transportation and Accommodations: If a traveler or traveling companion has been involved in a traffic accident on the way to departing for your trip, including you or your traveling companion need medical attention and/or the care needs to be repaired because it’s not safe to drive.
    • Severe weather has caused a cessation of services provided by your common carrier (airlines, ships, car rental companies) also if there has been a mechanical breakdown of the common carrier.
    • The travel provider has a default or declared bankruptcy (travel partner, travel retailer, tour operators, travel insurance agent or agency, or a firm from whom your purchased travel arrangements are not included).
  • Political Acts of Violence: Insurance plans typically have coverage if a terrorist attack has occurred and/or if the traveler or travel companion has been hijacked
  • Work-Related: If the traveler or travel companion has been fired, laid off from their employer after purchasing a travel insurance policy, and if the termination was not the policy owner’s fault, there has been an unannounced strike at the job, or business travelers involved in a merger, loss of a job, or relocation due to your job.
  • Military Related: If the traveler serves in the U.S. Armed Forces and has been called to military duty for a natural disaster that has occurred, been reassigned, personal leave revoked, or because of war, the trip will be covered.
  • Jury Duty: The traveler is covered if they’ve been summoned for jury duty or subpoena to appear in court.
  • Extended Travel Delay: If the traveler misses more than half of the total length of your trip, has been delayed

Trip Cancellation Coverage

Trip cancellation insurance covers non-refundable payments and deposits made before your trip is canceled, less any refunds owed. Prepaid accommodations that are canceled, interrupted, or delayed under a covered reason will be insured. 

Be careful of cancellation policies, especially in today’s travel world.  Make sure to look for Cancel For Any Reason Travel Insurance.

Trip Interruption Coverage

Prepaid expenses that were not used nor refunded back to the traveler are covered under trip interruption coverage along with the extra cost of accommodations. Any transportation expenses purchased to get to your destination and the cost of extended stay (hospitalization) are typically covered as well.

Travel Insurance Loopholes

Some loopholes in the fine print with traditional travel coverage (i.e., credit cards) are the medical plan coverage when stepping outside your home country. Usually, there is some health coverage or medical assistance, but minimal at best. International hospitals have been known to dramatically increase medical expense prices up for tourists, especially when they’re seeking emergency care. Traditional insurance for traveling doesn’t cover it.

Travelers will need a comprehensive health insurance plan, along with global assistance as well. The bottom line is making sure there is sufficient coverage available once outside the home country, including border countries.

Review the different insurance plans for travelers available.

Most plans do not cover pre-existing medical conditions, pregnancy, high-risk activities, or travel to high-risk destinations, so be sure to pay attention to the fine print. Existing medical conditions are defined as an illness or injury seeking or receiving treatment within the past 120 days.

This timeframe varies by insurance provider’s policies.

How Much Is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance costs can vary on several factors, and the rates change constantly. A typical plan can range from as little as $4.31 per person per week and go upwards of over $100 for a short trip. The premium amounts are based on:

  • Trip Length
  • Traveler’s Age
  • Traveler’s Gender
  • Deductible Amount
  • Medical Coverage Amount

The Best Travel Insurance Deals

One way to save money when buying travel insurance is by traveling in a group. The entire group may be able to purchase a single group policy at a discounted lower rate than you’d pay for individual policies.

Do I Need To Buy Travel Insurance?

Travel costs can add up quickly. Take into consideration how much expenses are on non-refundable pre-paid accommodations, transportation, activities, and meals. If something were to go wrong, is it affordable to lose the trip cost already spent?

Travel Insurance for a Cruise

Taking a cruise is a great example of an investment vacation. Booking a flight in coordination with the cruise itself is standard protocol. If the flight is delayed or canceled, the travel insurance coverage will cover some if not all of the trip cost losses. 

Does Travel Insurance Cover Weather?

Let’s say you travel to the Caribbean during Hurricane Season because you got a killer discount on travel accommodations, and the weather prohibits you from going to or coming back home due to severe weather? Travel insurance typically covers trip cancellation or trip delay coverage.

How About Travel Insurance Through My Credit Card?

Most credit cards offer some travel insurance benefits plans. The credit card owner has to book the trip through the credit card company to get the coverage, and we all know many credit card companies don’t offer much for discounted travel. The truth is the limitations can be minimal, and additional coverage can be more expensive. There might be a deductible as well.

Before buying travel insurance through credit cards, knowing the coverage levels can limit the features offered. Knowing the coverage can be more expensive than purchasing directly from an insurance company.

Some popular plans are with the following credit card and banking programs:

Travel Insurance Through Airlines

Travel insurance through airlines can often offer limited coverage on the features or be more expensive than purchasing directly from an insurance company. Feel free to compare with the following airlines below:

Travel Insurance Through Membership Clubs

Travel Insurance Through Primary Insurance Companies

Best Travel Insurance Plans

Best Travel Insurance Companies

Best Travel Insurance For Seniors

Best Travel Insurance For Diabetics

Best Travel Insurance For Children

Best Travel Insurance For Cruises

Best Travel Insurance For Visiting The USA

Best Travel Insurance for Medical Conditions

Best Travel Insurance For Domestic Travel Insurance

Best Travel Insurance For International Travel

Best Travel Insurance For Expats

Best Annual Travel Insurance Plans

Best Travel Insurance For Students

Best Travel Insurance Cancellation For Any Reason

When Does Coverage Begin?

Typically coverage begins on the scheduled departure date as long as the insurance payments have been made and end on your return date.

Filing A Claim

Most travel insurance policies require the traveler to submit and file an insurance claim within 90 days of the loss. Make sure to have proof of loss. Submit all of the receipts. Fill out every insurance claim form with little errors. Name a beneficiary on the application.

Exclusions

Exclusions are all in the fine print, so please review the insurance policy. Below are common examples of exclusions:

  • Existing medical conditions
  • Suicide or intentional harm.
  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Fertility treatments, childbirth, elective abortions.
  • Mental or Nervous Disorders
  • Physical Complications
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse
  • Learning to fly an aircraft
  • Participating in extreme high-risk sporting events such as skydiving, hang gliding, parachuting, bungee jumping, caving, body contact sports, mountain climbing, and scuba diving are examples.

Excluded Events

Excluded events are where insurance coverage can be tricky. Definitely review the insurance policy if traveling internationally to a risky location. This means the policy might not have coverage in the following events:

  • Epidemics
  • Pandemics
  • Natural Disasters
  • Pollution
  • Nuclear Reactions or Radiation Contamination
  • Terrorist Events
  • Financial Defaults
  • Unlawful Acts
  • If there aren’t departure or return dates on your tickets that match your application for coverage.

Lost, Damaged, or Stolen Baggage Exclusions

Once again, please review the policy before purchasing. There could be exclusions that apply like:

  • Intentional loss of or damage to equipment;
  • Defective materials or quality; or
  • Ordinary wear and tear;
  • Animals;
  • Cars and accessories, motorcycles and motors, aircraft, boats, and other vehicles;
  • Bicycles, skis, and snowboards (unless they’re checked with a common carrier);
  • Eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses;
  • Hearing aids, artificial teeth, and limbs;
  • Wheelchairs and other mobility devices;
  • Consumables, medicines, perfumes, cosmetics, and perishables;
  • Tickets, passports, deeds, and other documents;
  • Money, credit cards, securities, bullion, stamps, and keys;
  • Rugs and carpets;
  • Property for business or trade; and
  • Baggage when it is:
  • Shipped as freight;
  • Sent before your scheduled departure date;
  • Left in or on a car trailer; or
  • Left in an unlocked car.

Conclusion

9 types of travel insurance serve different purposes.

Travel insurance is the most basic form of all the policies and covers only the trip itself (not you).  Purchase this insurance on domestic trips.

Travel medical insurance is a short-term hybrid of travel insurance and health insurance.  Purchase travel medical insurance on all short-term international trips as your domestic health insurance will not cover any medical expenses abroad.

International health insurance is a long-term health insurance plan.  Purchase international health insurance if relocating to another country and not switching citizenship.  Once again, domestic health insurance will not offer medical expense coverage internationally.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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