Traveling is always risky.

You can run into any number of problems, from losing your toothbrush (or your passport!) to having to cancel the whole trip at the last minute due to an unexpected crisis.

Travel insurance can help you cover the costs for such disasters, but whether it’s a good investment will depend on your circumstances, your overall trip cost, and the type of coverage you get.

And while we’re on the subject of insurance, don’t forget that Insurify can help you compare quotes to get you the best deal on coverage for auto insurance, home insurance, and life insurance. Plus, check out our official insurance blog to help you make wise decisions about choosing, using, and canceling your insurance.

Types of Travel Insurance Plans

Travel insurance may include one or several different types of coverage. Before you buy a travel insurance policy, decide which types of coverage are most important to you, and confirm that your policy includes them all. In some cases, you may need to get multiple policies to acquire all the different types of travel protection you need.

Here are the most common types of travel insurance coverage.

Trip cancellation and interruption

This type of coverage is what most people think of when they think of travel insurance. 

Trip cancellation coverage reimburses you for nonrefundable expenses related to trip delay, cancellation, or having to cut the trip short. However, this coverage won’t protect you in all situations; usually, the policy will list the acceptable circumstances that will permit reimbursement. For example, few if any travel insurance policies will reimburse you if you simply decide on a whim not to take that trip after all.

Acceptable cancellation and delay reasons generally include things like your illness or the illness of a close family member, bad weather, cancellation by a tour operator, natural disasters, and the like. Note that travel insurance generally won’t provide reimbursement if you cancel a trip due to a pre-existing condition that began before you purchased the travel insurance policy.

If you have to cancel the remainder of a planned trip because of a crisis that occurs while traveling, trip interruption insurance reimburses you for nonrefundable expenses from the part of the trip you missed (but not the part that you actually experienced).

Before purchasing a trip cancellation and interruption travel insurance policy, check to make sure that the policy covers all three situations (cancellation, delay, and interruption) and peruse the list of acceptable cancellation reasons to make sure they meet your needs.

Medical insurance

If you’re traveling abroad, your regular health insurance plan may not cover certain medical expenses during your trip. In that case, it can make sense to purchase a special medical insurance policy to cover you while you travel. Medical travel insurance may also make sense if your health insurance plan provides some coverage outside your typical network area, but charges painfully high deductibles or otherwise limits services. You can purchase a supplemental medical insurance policy for travel that will cover costs that your primary health insurance plan doesn’t.

Medical evacuation coverage is a subset of travel medical insurance; it will cover the costs of getting you to the nearest hospital during a medical emergency, and may also pay to fly you back home (an emergency evacuation). These policies don’t always cover adventure trips that include particularly risky sporting or recreational activities.

Before purchasing travel medical insurance, confirm that the policy will extend coverage everywhere you plan to travel. Insurance companies may refuse to cover you under a travel medical insurance policy should you visit a high-risk area; in that case, you’ll need a specialty policy. You’ll also want to review the deductibles, coverage limits, and exclusions for the medical insurance policy before you sign on the dotted line.

Rental car coverage

This coverage will protect you if your rental car is damaged or destroyed during your trip. Rental car policies generally include collision and comprehensive plans (for damage to the vehicle itself) but not liability coverage (for damage to other objects caused by the vehicle, or injuries to other people). You may be able to purchase rental car liability coverage as a separate policy.

Before purchasing rental car coverage, check to see if you already have coverage through your standard auto insurance policy. Note that many U.S.-based auto insurance companies won’t cover rental cars outside the U.S., so if you are traveling overseas, make sure to check this point with your insurance provider.

Baggage coverage

Baggage and personal belongings coverage, not surprisingly, reimburses you for losses related to the belongings that you bring with you while traveling. This coverage may kick in when your baggage is lost, damaged, or destroyed. Baggage coverage rarely appears as a policy by itself; usually, it will be part of a comprehensive travel insurance policy.

Some travel insurance policies include coverage specifically for b, which may or may not be included in baggage coverage. You may want to purchase theft coverage if you’ll be bringing along high-value items like jewelry or a laptop since baggage coverage tends to have a reasonably low reimbursement for such things.

Before purchasing baggage coverage, check to see whether you already have sufficient coverage from other sources. For example, the baggage you check during a flight is covered by the airline should it be lost or routed incorrectly during transit. And homeowners and renters insurance policies generally cover your personal property even when you take it along with you on a trip.

Who offers travel insurance?

You can get travel insurance of various types from several different sources.

Credit cards

Many credit card companies provide some amount of free travel insurance—but only if you use that card to pay your travel expenses, such as airfare and hotel fees. Credit card travel insurance generally includes some amount of trip interruption and baggage coverage, but will not include medical insurance. Also, coverage limits may not meet your needs. Call your credit card company to find out just what its limits are on its free travel insurance coverage, and then decide if that’s sufficient or if you need to pick up more coverage elsewhere.

Airlines

When you buy plane tickets directly from an airline, you’ll usually be offered travel insurance at the time of purchase. You may get similar offers from cruise lines and tour operators as well when you book with them. These policies are easy to buy but may be more limited than policies offered by dedicated travel insurance companies and other sources. What’s more, you generally don’t get to view all the policy details before you buy. So you may get unpleasant surprises should you have to actually use the travel insurance coverage.

Travel agents

Many people choose to book their plane tickets and hotel reservations through travel websites such as Expedia and Travelocity. The big travel websites—and many smaller travel agencies—offer various forms of travel insurance policies. As with airline travel insurance policies, you generally don’t get to read through all the policy details before you buy, so unless you’re sure the coverage includes everything you need, you may want to pass on these travel insurance policies.

Travel insurance companies

You can buy a travel insurance policy direct from an insurer, typically through their website. You’ll generally (but not always) get a fair amount of detail about policy coverage options and how they work before you buy. The drawback of purchasing a policy directly from the provider is that you won’t be able to easily compare the policy to those offered by other companies.

Travel insurance comparison websites

Much as Insurify offers quotes on auto, home, and life insurance policies, there are also travel insurance comparison sites that allow you to view several different quotes upfront. These sites offer the most excellent range of options for travel insurance policies, and most do a good job of letting you compare travel insurance quotes to get the best coverage at the best prices. Individual comparison websites generally don’t list every available travel insurance provider, though, so it can be wise to check two or three such sites to make sure you’re getting the full picture.

Travel Insurance FAQ

How much does travel insurance cost?

As a rule of thumb, travel insurance policies cost somewhere between 4 percent and 12 percent of your prepaid nonrefundable travel expenses. Certain types of travel insurance coverage may be set using different parameters. For example, travel insurance medical coverage is typically priced based on your age.

What does travel insurance cover?

Different travel insurance policies include different types of coverage, such as trip interruption, medical insurance, baggage coverage, and rental car coverage. First, decide which types of travel insurance coverage you need, and then you’ll be able to pick the right policy.

Is travel insurance worth the cost?

Travel insurance is definitely a specialty product and won’t be worth it for every traveler. Before you purchase travel insurance, ask yourself how likely you really are to use it. For example, if you think there’s a good chance your trip will be canceled due to illness, a trip interruption policy that permits cancellation due to illness may be a good investment.

How to save on insurance costs

When you’re considering purchasing any type of insurance, it’s essential to compare different policies from a range of providers to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. 

Remember that Insurify makes it fast and easy to compare cheap insurance quotes for auto, home, and life coverage! 

Get peace of mind by being your own insurance agent. Compare quotes and save with Insurify today.

Updated March 16, 2020

Wendy Connick is the founder and owner of Connick Financial Solutions, a provider of tax and bookkeeping services and a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor. A long-time freelance writer, she specializes in business and finance articles on subjects including taxes, investing, and retirement. Wendy is an Enrolled Agent (EA), the only federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and a certified volunteer for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), an IRS-sponsored program to provide free tax help for low-income individuals and families.