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The Complete Guide to Travel Insurance: Cost, Benefits, and Coverage Options

Planning travel, whether it be for business or pleasure, takes time and energy, not to mention money. The last thing anyone wants is to miss out on a well-deserved vacation because of circumstances outside of their control, such as weather, illness, or baggage loss.

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Travel insurance policies remove the burden of worrying about the costs associated with your trip as well as unexpected emergency medical costs. Keep reading below to learn how to protect yourself and your financial investment in your trip.

What is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance, sometimes called trip insurance, is a type of insurance that covers a pre-planned trip and will reimburse the policyholder if certain unforeseen circumstances occur. You can think of travel insurance as a way to protect your investment in a trip before and during travel.

What is Covered by Travel Insurance?

While coverage varies by plan and provider, most policies cover similar circumstances. The table below displays the main types of trip insurance policies and what they may or may not cover. Keep in mind that many companies will bundle together several of the features below into a single policy.

Type of PolicyWhat it May CoverWhat it May Not Cover
Trip Cancellation / InterruptionReimbursement for non-refundable or pre-paid travel expenses if you’re unable to take part in some or all of the trip for covered reasons such as illness or injury documented by a doctor, flight delays, jury duty, etc.– Pandemics
– Natural disasters (If the event begins before you purchase coverage)
-Pre-existing conditions
– Risky activities and sports
Travel MedicalProtects you and assists with seeking care and covering costs in the event of unexpected injury or illness during your trip.– Pre-existing conditions
– Wellness exams
– Mental health disorders
– Injury due to drug use
Medical EvacuationAssists with moving you to a location to get treatment or transferring you to a safe space to seek care via medical airlift or other transportation.– Transport from specific geographic locations
– Pre-existing conditions
– Injury resulting from risky activities or sports
Baggage Delay / LossReimbursement for loss associated with baggage and other personal items and money to purchase essential items in the event of a baggage delay.– Cellphones
– Eyeglasses
– Money
Accidental Death & DismembermentCoverage for accidental death during flight, on public transport, or for the entire trip (only a limited number of companies offer this comprehensive coverage).– Self-inflicted injury
– Pre-existing conditions
* Remember to always check the fine print on the specific policy you’re looking to purchase to understand exclusions fully.


While these are the main buckets of travel insurance, other, less well-known events may be covered through add-on policies.  These add-on policies can protect travelers from everything from kidnapping ransom to foreign burial expenses. Make sure to check your policy for anything you specifically want to have coverage for before purchase.

How Much Does a Travel Insurance Policy Cost?

The cost of a travel insurance policy depends on many variables. Some companies provide a blanket range of between 4 and 12 percent of the cost of the trip. Yet to truly gauge the pricing, it’s best to compare plans with your specific details in mind.  Some things that may influence the price of your policy are:

  • The destination: Is your trip domestic or international?
  • The length of the trip: Shorter trips are often less expensive to cover.
  • The overall cost of the trip:  More expensive trips mean more expensive coverage. It also means a greater recoup of investment in the event something happens.
  • The number of travelers to be covered by the policy: More travelers often results in a higher priced policy.
  • Add-on policies: Supplemental coverage like rental car insurance or Cancel For Any Reason can cost extra with some plans.

By doing comparison shopping on different providers and policies, you can increase the likelihood of finding the best plan at the right price.

Is Travel Insurance Worth it?

In many circumstances, absolutely. This is especially true for trips that are international, costly, or if travelers are elderly or are more prone to unexpected health issues that could result in cancellation or having to end their trip early. Travel insurance pays for itself through the peace of mind you will have from knowing that your trip is protected from a wide variety of unforeseen circumstances.

Most experts agree that trip insurance may not be necessary for inexpensive domestic travel where the potential for loss is low.

How Much Travel Insurance Do I need?

The amount of insurance you need will vary depending on the types of extenuating circumstances you wish to cover. If you’re only concerned about covering flights and hotels in the event of weather delays or cancellations, you could opt for a more basic policy. If you’re jet-setting internationally with travelers who are more prone to medical issues, you might want to consider a more comprehensive policy.

How Do I Choose the Right Travel Insurance?

Whether you’re a pro at purchasing travel insurance, or if it’s your first time, remember that it is essential to read the fine print and to weigh your options. It’s also important to work with a reputable company. You may have already picked up on the fact that there can be a significant variance in what is covered from one policy to the next. As such, you’ll want to put in the time to do adequate research or consider working with a professional who is intimately familiar with the policies. When in doubt, compare travel insurance plans online and make sure you fully understand the coverage before purchasing.

When Should I Look for Trip Insurance?

It’s advisable to begin looking for travel insurance policies before you book your trip. Once you book the trip and have the total amount paid, it’s a great time to move forward with committing to a policy. You wouldn’t wait to buy life insurance until you need to use it; the same goes for your travel policy.

Certain events are not eligible to be paid out if a policy isn’t already in place. For example, with hurricanes, once the storm is named, the event is no longer unknown. If a policy is not already in place prior to the storm being named, a cancellation resulting from the storm will not be covered. This is another reason why it’s beneficial to purchase your policy as close to booking as possible.

What Information Do I Need to Purchase Travel Insurance?

To compare policies, you’ll need to have complete information about your trip, including total cost, departure and return dates, and destinations. You should also have information for any travelers you’ll want to cover, including age and birth date. When you’re ready to make the purchase, most companies accept payment online using a major credit card.

How Do I Submit a Claim?

To be reimbursed by a travel insurance policy, you will likely need to prove the value of items or events for which you’ve suffered a loss. It is a good idea to keep all receipts for items purchased that you are taking on your trip as well as items purchased during the trip. You’ll also want to keep documentation from airlines, tours, or doctors if applicable. It’s best to check with the insurance company to understand what will be needed to ensure you will be reimbursed for any losses.

How Do I Buy Travel Insurance?

Are you feeling sufficiently knowledgeable and ready to consider travel insurance for your next trip? Compare options and select your perfect travel insurance policy on

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The Basics of Travel Insurance

Coverage Types

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