How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance for International Trips


Ru Chen

- Updated July 9, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Travelers should assess their risks when going on international trips
  • Coverage type and cost should align with your needs
  • Compare different policies and providers
  • Use specialized insurance products to tailor insurance
How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance for International Trips

Traveling internationally is exciting. You get to experience new cultures, cuisines, and adventures. However, they can also expose you to new risks. Imagine you’re enjoying the beach in the Bahamas and suddenly fall ill, requiring immediate medical attention. Medical evacuation and emergency treatment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Travel insurance can protect you from unexpected expenses. In this guide, we go over how to choose the best international travel insurance policies for your needs.


Understanding International Travel Insurance

International travel insurance protects travelers heading on trips around the world from unforeseen incidents. From baggage insurance to travel medical coverage, each policy can protect you differently. You can choose how comprehensive and expensive you want your insurance to be.

By assessing the risks of your trip, available insurance options, and your financial situation, you can choose the best travel insurance for an international trip.

Types of international travel insurance

Domestic and international insurance policies share plenty of similarities. Here are some types of insurance coverage and services that are specific to international travel.

  • Medical evacuation and repatriation coverage: Covers transportation back to your home country for medical treatment

  • 24/7 global assistance services: Many insurance companies offer hotlines for help with international travel-related issues, such as lost passports, language difficulties, and legal problems.

  • Political evacuation insurance: A non-medical evacuation coverage plan can help cover transportation fees due to civil or political unrest. This may be invaluable if you are headed to a relatively high-risk foreign country.

Assessing Your Coverage Needs

1. Trip Details

The first step when buying international travel insurance is to list out your trip details. Consider the destination, duration, and purpose of your trip. Are you flying for a business trip? Or is this a vacation cruise to a foreign country? Your trip destination and reason for travel can influence your insurance needs.

2. Personal Health

Your individual health conditions will greatly determine what travel health insurance you need. Generally, travel health insurance covers unforeseen urgent medical expenses that arise while you’re in foreign land.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions, such as heart disease, you might want to obtain a pre-existing condition insurance waiver. This typically involves:

  • Insuring your entire nonrefundable trip amount
  • Being medically safe to travel when buying the policy
  • Buying the policy within 14 days of booking your trip

What counts as a pre-existing condition varies depending on the insurer. In general, a pre-existing condition for travel insurance is classified as any injury, illness, or medical concern that has included exams or treatments within 60 to 180 days of buying the policy.

3. Planned activities

By knowing ahead of time what type of activities you will partake in, you can buy policies better suited to your upcoming trip. For example, if you’re bringing your laptop and valuable documents with you for a business event, it’s a good idea to consider a baggage insurance policy with high coverage limits.

If you’re planning on participating in high-risk activities, you might need specialized insurance. The standard international travel insurance plan excludes adventure sports (e.g. scuba diving, rafting, and mountain climbing).

4. Potential Risks

The risks can be affected by your destination, itinerary, and location-specific scenarios. Identify potential risks and scenarios you might encounter abroad so you can better pick out suitable insurance policies.

For example, if you are on the way to a region with sociopolitical risks, you might want to obtain political evacuation insurance for your upcoming international trip.

Key Features to Look for in International Travel Insurance

Trip Cancellation/Interruption Coverage

Trip cancellation insurance covers prepaid, non-refundable expenses in case your trip gets canceled for a covered reason. Trip cancellation policies are highly recommended for international travelers. Plane rides, ship tickets, and other transportation methods can cost thousands of dollars when traveling across country lines or oceans.

Trip delay insurance is also a good idea if you are worried about surprise layovers, bad weather, or other issues that may cause delays during your international trip.

Trip interruption insurance covers various additional expenses you might need to pay in case your trip gets interrupted.

Medical Coverage

Travel health insurance can cover unforeseen medical expenses while you’re traveling internationally. Comprehensive travel medical coverage typically includes:

Emergency medical expenses: If you unexpectedly fall sick or get injured, insurance can cover these medical bills.

Hospitalization: If you need to stay at an international hospital due to injuries or illness, your travel medical coverage can cover the hospital stay expenses.

Outpatient treatment: Patient care that does not require a hospital stay can also be covered by your insurance plan.

Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation

Getting medical evacuation while traveling abroad can be extremely expensive. An air ambulance could cost over a hundred thousand dollars.

Emergency evacuation insurance and repatriation helps cover medical evacuations. Repatriation insurance also covers the cost of returning to your home country.

Baggage and Personal Belongings

Baggage insurance is a great idea for any traveler who is bringing valuables with them on their international trip. Baggage insurance covers lost, stolen, and damaged baggage and personal belongings.

Additional Coverage Options

Other than standard insurance policies, insurance add-ons and endorsements could also benefit you as you travel abroad.

Adventure sports insurance: Covers medical expenses related to high-risk activities, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, and scuba diving. Great for those with an adventurous spirit who are traveling to an international tourist spot known for such activities.

Rental car protection: If you get into a car accident with your rental car, you might be liable for some expenses, such as vehicular damages. Rental car protection can mitigate the risks of driving a rental car around internationally.

Travel delay insurance: Covers additional expenses you might need to pay in case your trip gets delayed.

AD&D insurance: Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance could be worth considering. It essentially works like travel life insurance, granting beneficiaries a payout if the insured accidentally dies during the trip. Those with dependents might want to obtain AD&D insurance for extra financial protection when going on an international trip.

Comparing International Travel Insurance Plans

Research and Gather Information

Those looking for travel insurance should take the time to research different travel insurance providers. You can use online comparison tools and visit insurance provider websites to get a good idea of the benefits of each insurer.

Compare Policy Features

Review different travel insurance options, including specific coverage details and exclusions. Compare policy features so that the policy you choose aligns with your planned trip.

Evaluate Policy Limits

The policy limit of a travel insurance plan refers to the coverage limit. This is the maximum monetary amount you can receive from insurance.

Comprehensive travel insurance plans can have several policy limits. Assess the maximum coverage amounts of different coverage types within your policy to see whether they are adequate.

Check Exclusions and Conditions

Review what is not covered by each plan before you go on your trip abroad. Common exclusions are:

  • Unlawful acts
  • Drug use (unless prescribed by physician)
  • Intentional self-harm
  • Expenses covered by frequent flyer miles
  • Foreseen weather events (e.g. named hurricanes)

In addition to exclusions, you might need to meet certain terms and conditions before the travel insurance company will accept your claim. For example, you must notify the insurer of the trip cancellation at least 48 hours before the departure date. Otherwise, you won't receive a reimbursement even if you purchased Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance.

Understand the Claim Process

Travelers should look at how claims are filed and processed. Familiarizing yourself with the travel insurance claims process prior to your international trip can save you a headache later on in case of an incident.

The time frame for reimbursements is also crucial. After an incident occurs during your trip, it is essential to file an insurance claim as soon as possible. If you miss the deadline (usually 90 days post-incident), your claim might be rejected.

Consider Cost Factors

Cost: The insurance cost of international travel policies can range between 3% and 16% of your total trip value. Consider what insurance cost falls within your trip budget.

Deductible: An insurance deductible is the monetary amount you need to pay out-of-pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. Lower deductible travel health plans are more expensive.

Discounts: You may be able to get discounts on your international travel insurance policies, especially if you’re a part of a travel rewards program. Look at your hotel rewards, flight rewards, credit card rewards, and travel clubs for discounts.

Read Customer Reviews and Ratings

By reading customer reviews and testimonials, you can get insight into the reliability and customer service quality of the insurance providers.

In addition, research your potential insurer’s financial stability. Since you’re going on an international trip, you want to make sure your insurer can afford to cover potential insurance claims.

Tips for Making the Final Decision

Assess Your Risk Tolerance

Your risk tolerance is how much risk you are comfortable taking while going on your international trip. If your trip is short and you don’t plan on participating in any risky activities, you might want minimal insurance coverage. This can help you save money on travel insurance.

On the other hand, if you expect to stay in a foreign country for a long time and may be exposed to various risks, you might want to mitigate your risks by obtaining extra travel insurance coverage.

Seek Professional Advice

Insurance brokers and insurance agents can provide you with useful, individualized advice. You can tell them your precise international travel plans and they can give you personalized guidance.

If you’re exposing yourself to numerous new risks for your upcoming international trip, it’s a good idea to consult with insurance brokers or travel agents. Buying insurance by yourself can be stressful and confusing. Experts can simplify the process for you, saving you time.

Buy Early

It’s recommended to buy travel insurance promptly after booking your trip. Many insurance providers offer incentives to encourage travelers to purchase insurance early, such as the ability to obtain pre-existing condition waivers so your health conditions are covered.

If you buy a travel insurance policy early, you can also obtain better trip cancellation coverage. You can only cancel the trip and receive a reimbursement if you already have activated coverage ahead of time.

Review and Double-Check

Finally, remember to review and double-check the policy details before purchasing the plan. The coverage should align with your travel needs, and you should be aware of all the policy details and exclusions prior to your trip.

If you have any questions about your policy, ask your insurance company for clarification.



Travel insurance can go a long way in protecting your finances when traveling internationally. When choosing the best international travel insurance, here are the key factors to consider.

  • What type of policies do you need?
  • Is the cost suitable?
  • Would you benefit from higher coverage limits?
  • Do you want insurance add-ons?
  • What is your destination?

International travelers should assess their unique needs and prioritize comprehensive coverage. The better protected you are, the more peace of mind you can have while traveling abroad.

Here are some of the best travel insurance providers.

Faye: International insurance starts at only $5.16/day for 14 days. Great coverage, great value.

TravelInsurance.com: Helps you find international insurance for countries all around the world. Makes comparing different policies easy.

Generali Global Assistance: Offers excellent insurance options, along with a 24-hour international emergency assistance hotline.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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