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Is Travel Insurance Worth It? Yes, in These 3 Scenarios

The key to knowing if you need travel insurance is figuring out your specific risks for any given vacation, then deciding if you can buy coverage that adequately protects you from any financial losses and pitfalls that might occur.

While insurance can be invaluable no matter the traveler and trip, these are the scenarios where it’s especially useful:

  • You’re concerned about flight disruptions: Flight cancellations and delays are commonplace, especially during the holiday and summer travel seasons. Most trip insurance will reimburse you for incidental expenses that occur while you wait for your flight to depart or for your checked luggage to arrive. Examples include meals and hotel stays if your flight is delayed overnight, or clothing and toiletries you have to buy while you wait for your bags to show up at your destination. Limits apply to this coverage, but it can still pay off if you have to use it.

  • You need the option to cancel your trip: Do you have a medical condition that might suddenly prevent you from traveling? What about young children who are prone to illness, or the possibility of your beach vacation getting rained out during hurricane season? These are just some of the instances when cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage can help. Offered as an add-on to many insurance policies, this coverage lets you cancel your trip for a reason not covered within a typical trip cancellation benefit. If you need to use this coverage, you’ll typically get 50% to 80% of your prepaid travel expenses refunded.

  • You’re traveling internationally: U.S. health insurance policies typically don’t cover medical care or emergencies overseas, which is why so many people seek out travel medical insurance. According to Allianz Travel Insurance, the average costs of international medical evacuation can range from $15,000 in Mexico all the way up to $220,000 in Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Fortunately, many travel insurance policies offer up to $500,000 in medical evacuation coverage or potentially more.

The best travel insurance options

If one of the above applies and/or you’re still curious about travel insurance, you can find the top-rated policies in a variety of categories below.

Travelex Insurance Services

Best Overall

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$50,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$50,000

Cancel for any reason

Allianz Travel Insurance

Best for CFAR

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$75,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$200,000

Cancel for any reason

Seven Corners

Best for 24/7 Support

Plan name

Trip Protection Choice

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$500,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Cancel for any reason

World Nomads Travel Insurance

Best for Adventure Travelers

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$10,000

Cancel for any reason

AXA Assistance USA

Best for Luggage and Personal Items

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$250,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$10,000

Cancel for any reason

Travelex Insurance Services

Best Overall

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$50,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$50,000

Cancel for any reason

Allianz Travel Insurance

Best for CFAR

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$75,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$200,000

Cancel for any reason

Seven Corners

Best for 24/7 Support

Plan name

Trip Protection Choice

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$500,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Cancel for any reason

World Nomads Travel Insurance

Best for Adventure Travelers

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$10,000

Cancel for any reason

AXA Assistance USA

Best for Luggage and Personal Items

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$250,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$10,000

Cancel for any reason

AIG Travel Guard

Best for Cruise Insurance

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$150,000

Cancel for any reason

Generali Global Assistance

Best for Emergency Situations

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$250,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

N/A

Cancel for any reason

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection

Best for Flight Insurance

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$50,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Cancel for any reason

HTH Travel Insurance

Best for Groups

Plan name

Trip Protector Preferred

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$500,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$50,000

Cancel for any reason

Trawick International

Best for Vacation Rental Insurance

Plan name

Safe Travels Voyager

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$250,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Cancel for any reason

Tin Leg

Best for Budget-Friendly Plans

Plan name

Tin Leg Luxury Plan

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$100,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$200,000

Cancel for any reason

Nationwide Insurance

Best for Last-Minute Travel

Plan name

Single Trip Prime Plan

Medical coverage (Maximum)

$150,000

Trip cancellation coverage (Maximum)

$30,000

Cancel for any reason

Any rates listed are for illustrative purposes only. You should contact the insurance company directly for applicable quotes.

What does travel insurance cover?

You’ll quickly notice that each travel insurance policy is different from the next. Most plans offer coverage for trip cancellations and interruptions, lost or delayed baggage, medical emergencies, and other common perils; some let you add optional coverage for a rental car, sporting equipment and more.

To give you an overview of the way different travel insurance policies work, the chart below shows the included benefits in several plans from a travel insurance company called Travelex:

Travel Basic Travel Select Travel America
Trip cancellation  100% of insured trip cost 100% of trip cost 100% of trip cost up to $750
Trip interruption 100% of trip cost 150% of trip cost 150% of trip cost up to $1,125
Trip delays $500 ($250 per day) $2,000 ($250 per day) $2,000
Missed connections $500 $750 $2,000
Emergency medical and dental expenses $15,000 $50,000 $50,000
Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation $100,000 $500,000 $100,000
Baggage and personal effects $500 $1,000 $250,000
Baggage delays $100 $200 $1,000
Sporting equipment delays Not included $200 $2,000
Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) $10,000 $25,000 $25,000
Kids included in pricing Not included Included All coverages and limits shared with up to seven travelers
Travel assistance Included Included Included

What does travel insurance not cover?

It’s important to note that travel insurance policies cannot possibly cover every unexpected bill you encounter before, during or after a trip. That’s because travel insurance is not meant to be used like other types of insurance, including traditional medical coverage you have for routine health care expenses.

According to Allianz Travel Insurance, travel insurance “does not cover losses that arise from expected or reasonably foreseeable events or problems.” Here are some of the most common exclusions found in travel insurance policies:

  • War
  • Civil unrest
  • Epidemics (except COVID-19)
  • Extreme, high-risk sports
  • Government-issued travel bulletins or warnings
  • Natural disasters
  • Nuclear reaction, radiation or radioactive contamination
  • Preexisting conditions (unless specifically covered by your plan)
  • Pregnancy-related medical expenses that aren’t an emergency (including regular labor and delivery)
  • Terrorist events
  • Travel to participate or train for a sporting event

When should you skip travel insurance?

While the cost of a travel insurance policy can be worth it in the end, there are plenty of travel scenarios where you may not need to purchase a plan. Consider the following situations where buying insurance may not be worth the trouble:

  • You’re planning a short road trip within the U.S.: If you’re planning a short trip within the U.S. where your own health insurance coverage will apply, you may not need trip insurance for medical expenses. The fact that you’re not flying also means you don’t have to worry about flight cancellations, and that your luggage will likely remain in your possession the entire trip.
  • You plan to use credit card travel insurance: There may be instances where credit card travel insurance coverage is sufficient for your plans, although only you can make this decision. For example, the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with trip cancellation and interruption coverage worth up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip; primary rental car coverage for damage or theft worth up to $75,000; lost luggage reimbursement worth up to $3,000 per passenger; emergency evacuation and transportation coverage worth up to $100,000; and more.
  • You bought insurance from your travel provider: There may be instances where the travel insurance coverage from your airline or cruise line is good enough. If you’re flying within the U.S. to see a family member and staying in their home for free, for example, you’ll likely just need protection against flight cancellations, eligible trip delays, and lost or delayed baggage.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Holly Johnson is an award-winning writer who has extensive experience when it comes to researching and buying travel insurance for her own trips to more than 50 countries around the world. Johnson has interviewed top executives from many of the best travel insurance companies and has successfully filed several travel insurance claims for trip delays and trip cancellations over the years. Johnson also works alongside her husband, Greg, who has been licensed to sell travel insurance in 50 states, in their family media business.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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