Best Travel Insurance Companies 2023
When it comes to travel, many things can go wrong that are outside your control. From missed flight connections—which airlines aren’t required to compensate passengers for—to injuries, these mishaps can derail your plans and cost you a lot of money.
Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind, often for a nominal cost. Americans who travel internationally spend an average of $3,580 per person per trip, and we found that coverage averages $155 for the four most common destinations: Canada, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom.
To help you find the right coverage for your upcoming trip, we researched 21 leading travel insurance companies and identified five standouts based on cost and coverage options.
Why we chose it: Purchasing travel insurance can be an overwhelming experience. Many travel insurance companies have complex sites with lots of fine print, making it difficult to choose the right policy.
Allianz works differently. It has a simple site that clearly specifies which of its plans best suits each type of traveler, making it easy to choose coverage that meets your needs and budget. For example, those looking for very basic, affordable coverage can choose Allianz’s OneTrip Cancellation Plus Policy, which provides trip cancellation and interruption protection. This form of coverage is suitable for those going on shorter trips or who have other medical coverage and only want insurance for the trip’s cost.
Those who want more robust coverage may prefer OneTrip Premier. This plan includes trip interruption and cancellation insurance along with emergency medical care and evacuation coverage. Under this plan, children 17 and under are covered at no charge when traveling with a parent or grandparent, a helpful benefit if you’re planning a family vacation. This is a comprehensive plan that is a good fit for both individuals and families that want the peace of mind that comes with both trip and medical coverage.
For frequent travelers, Allianz has annual and multitrip policies that allow you to purchase coverage that lasts an entire year. These options include added benefits such as a trip concierge and 24-hour hotline assistance.
If you have an existing health condition, typical travel insurance policies won’t cover medical treatments related to it. But Allianz provides coverage for pre-existing conditions if you add an optional rider to your policy for an additional fee. (All five of our winners offer pre-existing medical coverage, but only eight of the 21 companies we looked at do.)
With most policies, your trip is only covered if it is canceled for specific reasons, such as the death of an immediate family member or a natural disaster affecting your destination. If you cancel for other reasons, you don’t qualify for reimbursement. However, Allianz offers “cancel for any reason” coverage. Allianz will reimburse you 80% of your lost nonrefundable trip costs—a higher reimbursement percentage than other companies offer—if you cancel for other issues, such as a job loss or breakup.
The average cost for travel insurance for a single traveler taking a $3,500 trip was $169 with Allianz. That’s slightly higher in price than the $155 average cost across insurers we looked at, but we feel the strength of Allianz’s offerings made it worth the extra couple bucks.
Caveats: Allianz may not be the best choice for adventurous travelers. It excludes high-risk activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing and scuba diving. That’s not uncommon for basic travel insurance plans, but many companies, such as Faye and Berkshire Hathaway, have optional coverage for those activities that you can purchase for an additional fee; Allianz does not.
Allianz also has a surprisingly low maximum for emergency medical care. The maximum coverage limit on OneTrip Premier—the highest tier of coverage—is just $75,000. Other companies have coverage limits of $100,000 or more. While $75,000 is enough to cover most issues, it may be insufficient if you have a major health crisis and need surgery or other intensive care while traveling.
Best medical coverage
Generali Global Assistance
Why we chose it: With typical travel insurance policies, treatments for medical care related to pre-existing conditions are not covered. Some policies allow you to add optional waivers for pre-existing conditions, but the requirements are strict.
With Generali Global Assistance’s Premium plan, coverage for pre-existing conditions is included. The company also provides up to $250,000 in medical and dental coverage and $1 million in emergency assistance and transportation—higher limits than other companies offer.
Generali’s policies include coverage for telemedicine and give you access to a network of physicians who can provide medical consultations over the phone or via email. If you come down with the flu or forget a prescription and need a refill right away, having access to a telehealth provider in your destination country can be helpful.
Its coverage will also pay for your out-of-pocket medical costs. If you become ill or are injured during your trip, call the insurer’s emergency hotline. It will connect you with providers in its network, and it will guarantee payment to the physician up to a maximum of $1,000. This perk eliminates the need for you to have to pay the physician upfront at the time of your visit; the insurance company handles it for you.
Averaging just $127, Generali’s premiums were also consistently lower than the industry average.
Caveats: Generali Global Assistance has a shorter “free look” period than other companies. The free look period gives you time to review your policy and cancel it for a full refund. While most travel insurance companies have free look periods of 30 days from when you purchase your coverage, Generali’s is just 10 days. After that free look period ends, if you decide to cancel your coverage, you won’t be eligible for a refund of your premiums.
Best for cruise vacations
Why we chose it: Cruising requires unique insurance protection. For example, if you have a medical emergency at sea, the cost to access care can be in the six figures.
Travel Guard by AIG is Buy Side’s choice for the best insurer for cruise vacations, because it offers several benefits and tiers of coverage that are useful for cruisers, including:
Pack N’ Go plan: This plan is an excellent option for spontaneous travelers taking advantage of last-minute deals on cruises, a type of travel where discounts are common a few days before the ship’s departure date. It is more affordable than other plans because last-minute travelers don’t need trip cancellation coverage, but it provides full medical and interruption insurance.
Medical expenses: AIG’s plans have higher maximums for medical care than those of most other insurers. Its premium plan covers up to $1 million in evacuation costs, such as getting airlifted by helicopter to a hospital, and it will pay for up to $100,000 in medical expenses and $500 for dental work.
Baggage losses or delays: AIG offers a higher-than-usual coverage maximum for baggage losses or delays, making it a good option if you have to replace missing clothing or toiletries in a ship’s boutique, which will likely be quite expensive compared with your local shops.
Return transportation: If your trip is interrupted due to an illness, injury or the death of a family member, this benefit covers up to $1,000 in additional return transportation expenses. This benefit can help you cover the cost of last-minute flights from the ship’s port of call or car rentals so you can get home.
Caveats: While AIG is a useful choice for cruise vacations, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. On its basic plan, baggage delay coverage only kicks in after 24 hours; other insurers will reimburse you for delays as short as 12 hours. If your baggage is delayed after a flight and your ship is scheduled to leave port, that difference can be significant. And its basic plan has lower-than-usual limits for trip interruption or delay coverage.
Travel Guard by AIG features higher coverage limits than other policies, so expect to pay a higher premium. On average, TravelGuard by AIG costs $170.
Best for specialty protection
Why we chose it: Through Faye, you get not only a comprehensive travel insurance policy but also access to a range of optional add-ons to meet your unique needs.
To be clear, Faye’s standard policy is solid, including coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption, as well as for medical emergencies and evacuation. However, Faye’s standout features are its customizations, including:
Pet care: If your pet joins you on your trip and becomes ill or injured, this rider provides reimbursement for up to $2,500 in veterinary expenses. Or if your return is delayed and your pet has to stay in a kennel for a few extra days, you can get up to $250 in reimbursement for boarding fees.
Vacation rental protection: For short-term rentals booked through sites like Airbnb and VRBO, this rider will pay for up to $3,000 in damages that you or your traveling companions cause to vacation rental properties during your stay. Generally, travel insurance doesn’t cover vacation rentals, so this is an unusual perk.
Adventure and extreme sports: For people who want to skydive or bungee jump while traveling, this rider provides up to $250,000 of medical coverage for international trips and up to $50,000 of medical coverage for domestic trips.
Nonmedical emergency evacuation: If you’re in an area where a sudden disaster occurs, this rider covers up to $100,000 of emergency evacuation costs.
Caveats: Faye is also higher priced than some other companies, averaging $175 for a policy that includes trip cancellation and interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical care and medical evacuation coverage—but before any specialty extras.
Although Faye offers robust coverage options, it was founded just a few years ago and isn’t available everywhere yet. Residents of Washington state or Missouri aren’t eligible for its travel insurance. And Faye doesn’t sell its policies to residents of U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa.
Best for road trips
Why we chose it: Like other travel insurance companies, Berkshire Hathaway offers comprehensive coverage for medical care and trip cancellations or interruptions. Where Berkshire Hathaway stands out is in its policies specifically designed for particular types of travel, like its ExactCare Lite policy for road trips.
Typical travel insurance policies are shaped—and priced—with the expectation that you’re flying or boarding a cruise ship. But Berkshire Hathaway’s policy covers issues that pop up while you’re driving within the United States. For example, if you get stuck in traffic and miss that concert you bought tickets for, the ExactCare Lite policy will cover up to $750 of your cost.
And while driving anywhere in the country, you may become sick or injured and need medical care. If that happens and the only available options are out of your primary health insurance provider’s network, this policy will cover your care. Depending on the tier you choose, the maximum amount of coverage will range between $10,000 and $25,000 for medical care.
Plus, Berkshire Hathaway’s road trip coverage is much lower-price than traditional travel insurance; policies that include trip interruption/cancellation insurance, medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation protection start at $33 for a two-week road trip.
Caveats: Berkshire Hathaway has policies designed for different profiles, such as budget-focused travelers or road-trippers. But its policies aren’t customizable, meaning you can’t add riders to your policy to adjust your coverage. Nor does Berkshire Hathaway offer “cancel for any reason” coverage on most of its policies. The only plan that allows you to cancel for any reason is its highest-price, luxury travel policy.
Other companies we considered World Nomads
World Nomads is a well-known travel insurance company, and its policies are usually relatively inexpensive. However, it doesn’t offer coverage for pre-existing health conditions. While most travel insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions in their base policies, coverage is often available as an optional add-on. Not having that option through World Nomads is a significant drawback.
Seven Corners’ coverage options include ones for people who will be in another country for several months and coverage for large groups. But its hurricane and inclement weather policy only provides coverage if your trip is delayed by 48 hours or more; other companies require a delay of just 12 hours.
Travel insurance 101
Whether you’re driving through the U.S. or taking an international cruise, travel insurance can provide critical protection when you’re on vacation. Understanding how travel insurance works can help you choose the right plan, so you get the appropriate coverage for your needs without overpaying.
What are the main types of travel insurance?
A comprehensive travel insurance policy includes the following coverages:
Trip cancellation and interruption: If your vacation is canceled or interrupted by illness or bad weather, the insurer will reimburse you for a percentage of your trip cost. The insurers on our list reimburse at least 100% of the trip cost in cases of cancellation, and 150% of the trip cost for interruptions.
Trip delay: If your trip is delayed for reasons outside your control, such as a flight cancellation that causes you to miss a night at a hotel, trip delay insurance will reimburse you for some of your expenses. The companies on our list cover at least $300 a day of expenses.
Baggage loss: If your bags are lost or stolen, the insurer will reimburse you up to a specific amount per bag, such as $150 per bag, up to a total of $2,000.
Emergency medical care: If you need medical care for a health emergency, this benefit provides for your treatment. Because your U.S.-based health insurance won’t cover treatments that you receive outside the country, look for coverage amounts of at least $50,000.
Medical evacuation: If you have a medical emergency and need to be transported to a hospital or other healthcare facility, this coverage will pay for the cost up to the plan maximum. Because of how expensive evacuations can be, look for a policy that provides at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage.
Depending on the vacation you’ve planned, you may need to add optional coverages to your policy. Common add-ons include:
“Cancel for any reason” coverage: Typical travel insurance policies only reimburse you if your trip is canceled for covered reasons, such as a death in the family. If you add “cancel for any reason” coverage to your policy, you can cancel and get reimbursed for a percentage of your trip no matter the reason. For example, if you switch jobs and want to change your travel dates, your insurer may reimburse you up to 80% of the total cost.
Baggage delay insurance: If your bags are delayed and you need to buy toiletries or clothing until they arrive, this add-on will reimburse you up to a specific amount, such as $300.
Car rental insurance: Car rental coverage provides insurance for damage, theft and injuries that occur while you’re driving a rental vehicle.
Do I need other coverage if my credit card provides travel insurance?
Some travel credit cards offer insurance as a perk for cardholders. But even if you have a credit card that provides travel insurance, you may need to purchase additional coverage for the following reasons:
Not everyone will be covered: Credit card travel insurance usually only covers the cardholder and their immediate family members, meaning spouse, children and parents. Significant others or friends are typically excluded.
Coverage only applies to certain expenses: Travel insurance through a credit card only applies to expenses that you paid for with your credit card. For example, if you book your flights with another card that doesn’t include travel insurance and your flight is canceled, you’re ineligible for coverage.
It may provide inadequate medical coverage: Many cards exclude medical emergency coverage, and even when cards do offer it, the maximum limit is often quite low. And some cards have travel assistance benefits and will help arrange for medical evacuation, but you’re responsible for the cost of the services provided.
Below is a snapshot of how Allianz, our pick as the best overall provider for travel insurance, measures up to some of Buy Side’s favorite travel credit cards’ insurance coverage.
Allianz OneTrip PremierAmerican Express PlatinumCapital One VentureOne RewardsChase Sapphire PreferredCost$169 per trip (on average)$695 annual fee$0 annual fee$95 annual feeTrip Cancellation/ InterruptionYes, up to $200,000 for cancellations Up to $300,000 for interruptionsYes, up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card within a 12-month periodNoYes, up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per tripEmergency MedicalYes, up to $75,000Yes, at no cost, but only if arranged through the Amex Global Assist HotlineNoNoMedical EvacuationYes, up to $1 millionYes, at no cost, but only if arranged through the Amex Global Assist HotlineNoNoTrip DelayYes, up to $1,600 per tripYes, up to $500 per tripNoYes, up to $500 per ticketAuto Rental Collision and Damage WaiverYesYesYesYesBaggage InsuranceYes, up to $2,000 for lost or stolen bags Up to $600 for baggage delaysYes, up to $2,000 for checked luggage and up to $3,000 for checked and carry-on luggage; up to $10,000 aggregate limitYes, up to $3,000 per tripNo What doesn’t travel insurance cover?
Policies differ by company, but travel insurance policies usually exclude the following:
Pre-existing conditions: Basic travel insurance policies don’t provide coverage for medical treatments or losses that occurred due to a pre-existing health condition. However, there are some companies, including all of our top picks, that cover pre-existing conditions under certain plans or if you purchase coverage for pre-existing conditions as an optional rider.
High-risk activities: Standard policies won’t cover high-risk or adventurous activities such as skydiving. However, some companies offer optional riders you can purchase to get coverage for those activities.
Civil or political unrest: The majority of travel insurers exclude coverage for travelers visiting countries experiencing civil or political unrest, riots or acts of war. If you were to incur any losses, you would not be eligible for coverage.
Pregnancy and childbirth: Travel insurance policies typically exclude coverage for complications of pregnancy, childbirth and neonatal intensive care.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Travel insurance for domestic and international travel generally costs between 4% to 8% of the total trip price for a policy that includes the following:
Trip cancellation/interruption coverage
Medical and emergency evacuation insurance
24-hour emergency assistance hotline
If your vacation costs $3,500, that means you should expect to pay between $140 and $280 for a travel insurance policy. Variables that affect your cost include the length of the trip, your selected destination and your age. Policies that include additional protections, such as car rental or baggage delay insurance, will be higher priced.
The rates listed throughout this story were for the policies that met the following minimums:
$100,000 emergency evacuation
100% trip cancellation
150% trip interruption
How does travel insurance work with Covid-19?
Coverage for issues related to the coronavirus, including medical treatments for coronavirus or trip interruptions or cancellations related to Covid-19, varies by insurer.
Many insurers have declared Covid-19 a “foreseeable event.” That distinction means you should know about the risks of contracting the virus when traveling, so it won’t cover any treatments or losses you may incur due to Covid-19.
However, some companies will provide coverage for medical care or trip interruptions or cancellations related to Covid-19 if you test positive during a covered trip.
Before purchasing a policy, contact prospective insurers or check their exclusions to find out if medical care or losses related to Covid-19 are covered.
How we picked
We chose Buy Side from WSJ’s Best Travel Insurance Companies based on available policies, coverage maximums, optional add-ons, financial stability ratings and cost. We also looked for companies that offered “cancel for any reason” coverage and insurance for pre-existing conditions.
We evaluated 21 leading insurers. Policies and coverage amounts were current as of March 7, 2023.
The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of the Buy Side from WSJ editorial team, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.