How to Choose Travel Insurance

Three Methods:Finding a PolicyReading the Fine PrintComparing Policies

You’re pretty sure everything you need for your trip is all ready. Everything’s secured, except you. If you’re traveling either domestically or internationally, travel insurance can help cover lost luggage, missed flights, medical expenses, and even cancellation fees. With so many policies to choose from, you’ll have to carefully consider which policy is best for you.

Method 1
Finding a Policy

  1. Image titled Choose Travel Insurance Step 1
    Determine what kind of policy you’ll need. Different types of insurance are available based on where you are going and how much coverage you want. In general, the policies can be divided into certain types.
    • Travel insurance will cover lost luggage, missed or cancelled flights, or even basic medical care.
    • Travel medical insurance will provide the cost of medical care in foreign countries.
    • Medical evacuation services will assist you if emergency evacuation or travel is needed. These services may pay for the cost of an ambulance or help escort you back home in case of illness or injury.[1]
    • Multi-trip policies will cover numerous journeys in a year, reducing the number of policies you have to buy.[2]
    • Accidental death policies will insure your life for death or dismemberment. There are three types: air flight (death or dismemberment on an airplane), common carrier (death or dismemberment on a taxi, bus, ferry, or other type of public transportation), and general accidental death (all situations of death or dismemberment).[3]
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    Assess your risk. Knowing what you are at risk for will help you determine what kind of coverage is worth paying for and what kinds you can skip. Research your destination, either by checking their local tourism agencies or your own governmental advisory boards. There are various types of coverage that may be included or added to your policy:
    • Baggage loss and delay
    • Missed, delayed, or cancelled flights
    • Terrorism
    • Life insurance
    • Rental car insurance
    • Hurricane and weather[4]
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    Double-check your current insurance policies. If you already have homeowners, auto, life, or health insurance, you may already be covered for travel-related expenses. Check your current policies or call your agent. They can help clarify what is and is not currently covered for you when traveling.[5]
    • When you call your insurance company, you can ask them if they provide travel insurance or if they would be willing to add a travel rider to your current insurance policy. This may be a cheaper option than finding a new company, and it will be with a company you already trust.
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    Consult an agent. A number of institutions sell travel insurance, including banks, tour operators, insurance companies, and specific travel insurance websites.[6] You can easily find a wide range of insurance companies by searching for “travel insurance,” but you may find the policies to be vague or too complicated to understand. The best way to know your needs for travel is to call the company itself to speak to an agent. An agent can walk through the company's various policies and help you assess which kind of policy you need.
    • Even if you consult an agent, be sure to read the policy thoroughly yourself before signing. If you have any further questions, you can ask the agent for clarification.
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    Check if the insurance company is reputable. There are a number of internationally recognized insurers who have a network of affiliates that could offer you assistance inside and outside the country you’re visiting. Buy from a licensed agent/website that is authorized to sell the policy. Check their license number or licensed ID if necessary.[7]

Method 2
Reading the Fine Print

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    Make sure that the policy includes the country you are planning to visit. Some countries require different types of policies than others, and not all policies cover all countries. Countries with medical or political travel advisories may be more difficult to find travel insurance for.
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    Ensure that the policy covers your medical condition. Pre-existing conditions may not be covered by the policy, or the company may require you to apply for a special waiver. If you have a medical condition that may interfere with your travel plans, double-check that the policy covers your condition.[8]
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    Read the refund policies. Make sure that you understand the policies for refunds and reimbursements. Research how long it typically takes the company to process a claim. Some policies will refund your money if you cancel months in advance. There are only a few insurance companies who will refund you if you cancel at the last minute. Some may refund you if your trip is canceled because of terrorism or weather. Most will not refund you if your conference was canceled or if you moved the date of your trip.[9]
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    Consider cancellation waivers. If there is a chance you might cancel your trip, it might be worth investing in cancellation insurance. Cruise and tour operators may offer cancellation waivers. This means for a fee, they will reimburse you a portion of your cost if you cancel for any reason up to 24 hours prior to departure. Furthermore, if you are traveling to a country with a high risk of terrorism, a “cancel for any reason” clause can help recuperate your loss if it is not safe for you to travel.[10]

Method 3
Comparing Policies

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    Shop around. When you book your trip, you may be offered travel insurance by your airline, travel agent, or tour operator. It is usually best to shop around for travel insurance. The insurance offered by your travel carrier or agent can be notoriously difficult to file claims on, especially if their company goes bankrupt. Furthermore, they may not actually offer the type of coverage you need.[11] By considering all of your options, you will find the right coverage for a better price.
  2. Image titled Choose Travel Insurance Step 11
    Make a spreadsheet. The best way to visualize different policies is to make a chart comparing them. In one column, write the name of each company. In the next columns, write down their cost, policy type, types of coverage, and whether or not they cover preexisting conditions. Decide which policy is the best value for your money while still providing the services you need.
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    Calculate the cost. Depending on what kind of coverage you want, the insurance should cost between 5-7% of your journey’s total cost.[12] Certain types of coverage, such as terrorism or emergency medical coverage, will increase the price to 7-10% of your journey’s cost.[13] Compare how much your insurance costs compared to the rest of your journey to understand if you are paying too much or not.
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    Use an online service. There are various insurance comparison websites that can simplify the process for you. Search for "compare travel insurance" to find a good service that works for you. Simply enter in your information, and the website will compile different policies for you.
    • Do not consult a website that is owned by a particular insurance company. Their data may be skewed to favor their own policy.
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    Read reviews. Some newspapers, websites, and consumer companies offer reviews of different travel insurance policies. Search for reviews of both the company and specific policy you are considering. You can understand other travelers' experiences with a company before you sign on, and the reviews may help you consider what kind of problems you may encounter on your journey.


  • Don’t forget to ask the insurance company for their helpline numbers inside and outside the country you’re visiting. Keep these numbers on you at all times in case of emergency.
  • Most visitor and travel insurance policies do not cover preexisting conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Inform your insurance company of your condition, and they will work with you to find a policy that covers your medical treatment while traveling.
  • Buy the travel insurance policy well in advance. Do not wait till the last moment. It may take a few days or weeks for the policy to process.


  • Read the fine print carefully. Make sure you understand what is covered and what is not. Do not rely completely on what the agent tells you.
  • The cheapest policy may not be the best. Consider carefully what you will be receiving for your money and evaluate your risk based on your destination and needs.
  • Be aware of scams. Tour operators and cruise lines might try to sell you a policy that they collect commission on. These may not be policies that benefit you You are under no obligation to buy these policies.

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Categories: Insurance | Travel