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Best Travel Insurance
How to Select Travel Insurance
We have been reviewing travel insurance since 2010, spending more than 240 hours reviewing online information, contacting providers with questions, and consulting with professionals in the industry. The best travel insurance we found was Generali Global Assistance. It offers plans that cost less than average, while offering caps above the mean. Further, it offers extra features like emergency cash and reimbursement on lost medication. This travel insurance is also a great value, with plans that consistently cost less than comparable plans from other companies, yet the coverage was at or above average in nearly all areas.
Best Overall: Generali
Generali (formerly CSA Travel Protection) is easily one of the best travel insurance companies, with plans that, as a whole, cost less than average and coverage that will give you peace of mind. If you’re hurt, the medical coverage is higher than that of most other companies, with payouts of up to $2 million in medical evacuation and repatriation costs. It also provides emergency cash advances.
The medical coverage is higher than most companies, and it has the highest compensation for emergency medical evacuation of the companies we looked at. If you are planning a potentially dangerous adventure, this is a good plan to investigate. If you need cash in an emergency, such as if your wallet is stolen, you can get up to a $500 advance from the company. Not all travel insurance companies do this.
Best Value: USI Affinity
USI Affinity is a solid company that provides all the basics at a lower-than-average price. To file a claim, you must contact an agent, but the coverage is very competitive. This insurance has a cancel-for-any-reason option that lets you cancel the insurance 14 days or more before your vacation. It has coverage you don’t always find at competitive pricing.
The emergency medical benefits of USI Affinity are comparable to those of most of the travel insurances we evaluated. The $100,000 cap on medical expenses is a standard that only a few insurances exceeded, as is the $1 million for emergency medical evacuation. The contract does not detail the paperwork you must file. We were told by an agent that all you need are receipts when filing a claim.
Best Cruise Coverage: InsuranceandGo
InsuranceandGo keeps pricing for its plans down by offering essential services, with a few extras like a 24/7 emergency line. Not all companies have plans specifically covering cruises, but this company has one of the best cruise plans available. Its cruise plans have extra coverage for missed departures and compensation for missed cruise days should illness confine you to your cabin. It doesn’t have as many options overall as some of the other services in our lineup, but its plans are generally competitively priced.
As with other travel insurance companies, you need to download the form, but the forms include a checklist of the required paperwork. If you have questions of an administrative nature, you need to call during business hours, but there is a 24/7 line to call if you have an emergency while on your trip.
Why Trust Us
We have been reviewing travel insurance companies since 2010 and in that time, we have spent more than 240 hours doing our research. We’ve done extensive online research, as noted above, and contacted professionals and industry insiders to get opinions about the best travel insurance agencies available. Posing as people looking to insure their travel, we contacted customer support representatives at each agency. The agencies had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available by reading our reviews online. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
How We Tested
To test travel insurance, we simulated the same type of vacation plans for each company and compared cost and coverage for each company. Since most people purchase trip insurance to recover costs, we looked at various travel scenarios with an upfront investment of $5,000 or more. We gathered quotes for two adults for a U.S.-based cruise, a French vacation and a high-adventure Antarctic vacation. Since age and state of residency affect quote rates, we varied the state and age, looking at three groups in each category.
Once we collected the quote information, we then calculated a score based on the coverage, the services available in the plan and the plan's cost. As you'll see in our reviews, rates and payouts vary. The payouts we listed are possible payouts and may not be the same numbers you see in your policy. We also looked at the process to file claims. When filing a claim, all trip insurance companies require a certain amount of paperwork. Some companies require more documentation than others. Some let you submit your claim online; others require it to be mailed or faxed.
What Protection Does Travel Insurance Provide?
Travel insurance provides financial compensation for canceled travel plans, emergency medical assistance, lost luggage and trip delay reimbursements. Other services include emergency medical evacuation, translation services, prescription medicine replacements and rental car insurance. If you experience significant delays on your trip, you may be able to recoup some food and hotel expenses resulting from delays beyond your control.
We compared several trip insurance plans that provide U.S. and international travel benefits. Some offer packages specifically created for cruises and high adventure vacations. Many travel insurance companies offer individual trip plans, as well as yearly, group, family and business plans. Most plans offer group and family plans, but some also cover children without adding to the cost of the premium. If you travel frequently for business, you may want to investigate business or yearly plans.
Our research revealed that the most common reason travelers purchase trip insurance is to protect themselves from losing money when a trip with a large, prepaid investment is canceled. Such trips often have an upfront cost of $5,000 or more, such as all-inclusive cruises, resort packages or package deals.
For an additional premium fee, many travel insurance companies can help recoup part of your upfront costs should you have to cancel your trip for any reason, even if those reasons are within your control. For the most part, the types of expenses that trip cancellation insurance companies cover are nonrefundable expenses. If your airline tickets, for example, are refundable, you will not be able to recoup the costs. But if you must cancel a costly cruise a week before leaving the dock because you suffered a major medical problem, one that is not pre-existing, chances are your upfront costs will be covered.
The second reason consumers purchase travel insurance is to help cover the costs of a medical emergency that might happen abroad that their stateside health insurance doesn't cover. Medical assistance often includes consultation with a U.S.-based doctor. Some plans offer pre-existing condition waivers, but most do not. Most offer medical evacuations if you need to be moved from a remote location to a city with a larger hospital. And some plans will pay to have a friend or family member flown to you if you are hospitalized.