Comparing Single-Trip vs. Annual Travel Insurance Plans: Which is Right for You?


Ru Chen

- Updated July 10, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Single-trip travel insurance only covers 1 trip away from home
  • Annual travel insurance covers unlimited trips in a year
  • Choosing the right insurance can save you money and hassle
Comparing Single-Trip vs. Annual Travel Insurance Plans: Which is Right for You?

Travel insurance is an essential item when traveling. It protects you from unexpected expenses such as medical bills, trip cancellations, and lost baggage. If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll want to compare single-trip and annual travel insurance plans.

Each travel insurance option has its own pros and cons. Let’s dive into the differences between single-trip and multi-trip insurance, and how to decide which one is better for you.


Understanding Single-Trip Travel Insurance

Definition and Coverage

The standard travel insurance policy that travelers buy is for a single trip. This doesn’t necessarily mean you only go to one place – as long as you leave home and return only once, this is considered a single trip.

Single-trip travel insurance typically covers:

  • Travel health insurance: Covers unexpected medical expenses.
  • Lost baggage: Covers damaged or lost baggage and personal belongings. Useful if you’re bringing valuables onto a common carrier.
  • Trip cancellation: If your trip gets canceled for a covered reason, you can get your prepaid, nonrefundable trip expenses reimbursed.
  • Trip interruption: If your trip gets interrupted by a covered peril, insurance can cover extra trip expenses.

If you return home at any time during your trip, even if it is only briefly, this will mark the end of your coverage. In addition, the single-trip travel insurance will only cover a designated period of time (e.g. 60 days).

Advantages of Single-Trip Travel Insurance

It’s easier to tailor your travel insurance to your needs if you opt for single-trip travel insurance. The insurance policy can be customized based on your trip’s risk factors, duration, destination, and more.

Single-trip insurance is also more affordable and cost-effective for those who don’t travel often. If you expect to go on only one or two trips this year, a single-trip insurance policy for each trip should be enough. It can cost between 4% to 16% of your total trip expenses, which may go up to $800 for expensive trips.

Key benefits of a single-trip travel insurance policy include:

  • Better insurance customizability
  • Usually less expensive for infrequent travelers
  • Able to tailor each policy to your specific trip

Disadvantages of Single-Trip Travel Insurance

Single-trip travel insurance policies only provide coverage for the single time you are traveling after purchasing the policy. You will lose coverage once you return home.

Single-trip insurance policies also tend to be more costly for frequent travelers. If you make multiple trips within a year, buying multiple single-trip insurance policies can take longer and cost more money.

The key disadvantages of single-trip travel insurance include:

  • No coverage for multiple trips within the year
  • May be more costly for frequent travelers
  • The repetitive process of buying insurance is inconvenient

Understanding Annual Travel Insurance

Definition and Coverage

Annual travel insurance is also known as multi-trip travel insurance. You can go on as many trips as you want within the year. Multi-trip insurance will be active as long as you have not already met the coverage limit. Usually, the policyholder would be covered for one calendar year (365 days) starting on the effective date of coverage.

Most annual travel insurance policies focus on medical health insurance. Add-ons and additional coverage options are limited.

The standard multi-trip travel insurance usually offers coverage for:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Trip interruption (optional)
  • Trip delay (optional)
  • Multiple trips

Advantages of Annual Travel Insurance

The main benefit of annual travel insurance is its cost-effectiveness for frequent travelers. People who need to travel multiple times a year can save money and stay protected on all of their trips over the course of the year.

By buying multi-trip, annual travel insurance, you wouldn’t need to continuously search for and buy travel insurance. Instead, you could stay insured between your trips, allowing you to come home and head to a new location without losing insurance coverage.

The one-time purchase of travel insurance for multiple trips helps you save time. Travelers may also find discounts for obtaining annual travel insurance for an entire year.

The key benefits of annual travel insurance include:

  • Cost-effective for frequent travelers
  • Convenient, you only need to buy once a year
  • Coverage is active even if you need to make multiple trips
  • Helpful travel medical coverage

Disadvantages of Annual Travel Insurance

A notable downside to annual travel insurance is it is harder to customize insurance based on your needs. You likely will not find specific add-ons for baggage insurance, rental car protection, or other options.

Annual travel insurance is typically more expensive upfront than single-trip insurance. Travelers who are traveling on a strict budget may not want to spend a great amount of money on insurance in one go.

Annual travel insurance providers may impose coverage and duration limits. Be sure to review your multi-trip policy so you know any limits that may apply to your insurance coverage.

If travel plans change, you might end up underusing your travel insurance policy within the calendar year of coverage.

Here are the main disadvantages of annual travel insurance.

  • More expensive than single-trip travel insurance
  • Limited coverage and add-on options
  • Not suitable for infrequent travelers

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Single-Trip and Annual Travel Insurance

Travel Frequency

How often you travel in a year is the main determinant of whether a single-trip or multi-trip travel insurance policy is better for you. If you plan on insuring this upcoming year for special circumstances or you travel often every year, multi-trip insurance might be preferable.

Make sure to estimate the insurance savings based on your travel frequency. Generally, single-trip insurance policies cost 4% to 16% of the total travel expenses. If you purchase a multi-trip insurance policy but only travel once or twice, you are likely to be overpaying for travel insurance. However, frequent flyers could save a significant amount by opting for annual insurance policies.

Trip Duration and Destinations

How long you plan to travel may affect which type of insurance is better suited. Consider the average length of trips, as well as the number of destinations.

If you’re going to different destinations for wildly different reasons, you may want to obtain single-trip insurance instead. This is because single-trip insurance is easier to tailor for destination-specific needs, which could help you save money in the long run.

Here are some types of travel that benefit from travel insurance.

Business: Travelers who go on business trips abroad or to different states often have the same coverage needs across their different trips. They tend to bring along high-value baggage and personal belongings, such as electronic devices and documents.

Leisure: Travelers who are going on vacations benefit from travel medical insurance to cover any unexpected healthcare expenses. Adventure sports coverage is also a good insurance add-on to consider since it covers high-risk activities that entertain travelers during leisurely trips (e.g. scuba diving and bungee jumping).

Adventure: Aventure sports are extreme sports and other high-risk activities. If you’re traveling to scale a mountain peak or go scuba diving, this would not be covered by the standard travel insurance policy. You would need adventure sports insurance that covers the specific activity. You would likely benefit from tailored single-trip insurance policies in this case.

Study: Students studying abroad can benefit from single-trip travel insurance if they only plan on returning once they have finished their semester or school year. If they plan to visit home a few times throughout the academic year, an annual travel insurance plan might be better for the convenient travel health coverage it offers.

Budget and Cost Considerations

Annual travel insurance is typically more expensive than a single-trip insurance plan. When choosing travel insurance, it’s a good idea to compare the overall cost of numerous single-trip plans versus buying one annual plan.

In general, travel insurance costs around ~10% of your total trip expenses. This percentage can vary greatly depending on your insurance needs and your overall trip cost.

Assess your personal budget constraints when deciding between single-trip and annual travel insurance plans. See if it is cheaper to purchase multiple single-trip plans in the upcoming year, or if it is more cost-effective to buy a multi-trip insurance plan.

Good financial planning can help you save money in the long run. Also keep an eye out for discounts that can help reduce your cost of travel insurance.

Coverage Needs and Preferences

Travelers should note down what specific coverage requirements they have before purchasing travel insurance.

The most common travel insurance coverage types are found in single-trip insurance policies. Example coverage options include:

  • Travel health insurance
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) insurance

If you choose a multi-trip policy, it may only cover unforeseen travel health expenses. Whether other coverage options are possible will depend on your chosen insurance provider.

You can also customize each travel plan to obtain the best insurance coverage for your trip. Common add-ons include:

  • Adventure sports coverage
  • Rental car protection
  • Higher coverage limits

Convenience and Peace of Mind

An annual travel insurance plan offers convenience and peace of mind for frequent travelers. If you are likely to travel on short notice, you might not have enough time to buy single-trip insurance. Unexpected travel without travel insurance can be risky. If you prefer having continuous coverage and an easier time managing your insurance needs, a multi-trip insurance plan might be better.

Insurance Provider Reputation and Concierge Services

The customer service quality, financial stability, and overall quality of an insurance provider are key factors of consideration. Travel insurance providers may offer additional features and benefits.

If you plan on making multiple trips to destinations outside your country, it would be prudent to consider a travel insurance company that offers 24/7 global assistance hotlines and concierge services. For example, Generali Global Assistance offers a 24-hour emergency assistance line that is available from anywhere in the world.

On the other hand, if you’re only going on a single trip for business or vacation purposes, you might prefer a cost-effective single-trip policy.

Coverage Limits and Exclusions

Travel insurance plans come with exclusions, timely filing deadlines, and coverage durations. It is important to know what the limits and restrictions are for your travel insurance policy, regardless of whether the plan is for multiple trips or a single trip. Here are common travel insurance exclusions.

  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • Claims filed more than 90 days after the incident
  • Mental disorders
  • Alcohol and drug consumption
  • High-risk activities (e.g. bungee jumping, mountain climbing)
  • Expected weather events (e.g. a named hurricane)

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you will need a pre-existing condition waiver if you want insurance to cover it. This typically requires you to purchase insurance within 14 days of paying for your trip, and may not be available for annual travel insurance plans.



Single-trip insurance is designed for one journey, making it great for infrequent travelers who prefer customizable coverage. If you’re a frequent traveler, you should consider annual travel insurance that covers multiple trips in a year. Multi-trip plans are convenient and could save you money if you travel often, but have fewer customizable options.

Travelers should assess these factors when choosing a travel insurance plan:

  • Travel frequency for the next year
  • Length of trips
  • Destination or activity-specific coverage
  • Personal requirements and risk tolerance
  • Insurance provider ratings

By taking the time to evaluate your individual travel plans and needs, you can make an informed decision regarding your travel insurance. It’s also a good idea to

Check out our curated list of the best travel insurance companies for both single-trip and annual travel insurance. Protect your trip with the right travel insurance plan today!

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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