The best cheap travel insurance
The best cheap travel insurance isn’t just cheap. It also has to have strong financial backing, responsive customer service, and well-rounded coverage that will truly protect you while you’re abroad. We found the four companies that meet all of these benchmarks — and offer competitive prices to boot.
How we chose the best cheap travel insurance
Quality before cost
First things first: you should never pick a travel insurance company based on price alone. The bargain policies often cut cost by skimping on coverage — and it makes no sense to pay less for a policy that won’t cover you if your bags get stolen, a hurricane cancels your tour, or you’re injured on a hike.
Before looking at prices, we evaluated travel insurance companies on their quality of coverage and service. We’re confident that all of our top picks will be affordable and have your back, no matter what.
We started with 22 of the nation’s top, third-party travel insurance providers, then narrowed in on the most reputable companies that are guaranteed to be there for you in a pinch. First, we made sure that each company on our list earned top financial strength scores from A.M. Best, an independent rating agency that focuses on the insurance industry.
A rating of “A-” or higher means that your insurer can pay out on any claim you might make, no matter how large. We also looked for outstanding customer service, calling each company to test the knowledge and helpfulness of their reps. Great support is essential, as these reps will be your first point of contact in an emergency.
Essential coverage options
Along with strong financial backing and excellent customer service, we made sure our top picks offer well-rounded coverage. It’s up to you to choose the type and amount of coverage that’s right for your trip — but your insurer needs to make the most important options available. Here’s what we looked for:
Medical evacuation and repatriation
Trip cancellation or interruption
Baggage or personal item loss/delay
24/7 worldwide assistance
After parsing through policy options and coverage limits, we settled on four travel insurance companies with the best offerings: Travelex, John Hancock, IMG, and Allianz. But which one is the cheapest? To find out, we requested quotes for four scenarios that reflect a variety of trip styles and travelers.
On average, Travelex and John Hancock came back with the cheapest policies. But remember, it’s not about cost alone. Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for better coverage.
For instance, IMG’s iTravelInsured LX plan is more expensive than Travelex’s Travel Select, but it’s a better choice for an adventure trip, as it includes robust coverage for hazardous sports. You can read more about what makes each company unique below.
|Travelex (Travel Select Plan)|
|John Hancock (Bronze Plan)|
|IMG (iTravelInsured LX Plan)|
|Allianz (One Trip Premier Plan)|
How we got our sample quotes
Remember that the prices shown here are only a sample set. Your insurance price will depend on your age, total trip cost, and how much coverage you choose. To find the cheapest plan for you, you’ll have to get personalized quotes from a few different companies and compare.
Our picks for the best cheap travel insurance
Ample protection, excellent customer support, and reliably affordable prices
Why we chose it
John Hancock matched Travelex for affordable pricing, with the cheapest average quotes for two out of four travel scenarios. Its low quotes are in part thanks to generous coverage; the company’s most basic plans meet or exceed the protections offered by our other top picks’ highest-tier options.
John Hancock’s mid-range policy, Silver, even covered the higher medical and evacuation limits recommended by experts. We’d suggest that anyone shopping around for travel insurance get a quote from this company. It’s likely to be competitive and sure to provide excellent coverage.
Selection of good policies
Unlike our other top picks, which each had one plan that fit our criteria, John Hancock offers three. Its Bronze, Silver, and Gold all met the benchmarks we set for great coverage. In fact, John Hancock’s Bronze policy (its cheapest option) starts with $50,000 of emergency medical coverage — the same as Allianz and Travelex’s highest level plans. It has high limits for emergency evacuation too; limits range from $250,000 to $1 million depending on your policy.
All three plans also cover trip cancellation or interruption, baggage loss, and 24/7 worldwide support, as well as extras like rental car coverage and pre-existing condition waivers. We appreciate that John Hancock guarantees solid coverage, no matter which one of its policies fits your budget.
Excellent customer service
John Hancock is the only company we reached out to that beat Travelex for customer service. The representatives we spoke to were warm, helpful, and well-informed; we could tell they knew the policies inside and out. What’s more, they picked up the phone in less than a minute. If we were stuck at the airport or injured in an accident abroad, that’s exactly the kind of responsiveness we’d hope for from our travel insurance company.
Points to consider
Kids not included
Unlike Travelex and Allianz, John Hancock does not include minors on their parents’ travel insurance policies. That means your price will go up for each child covered. The price hike isn’t extreme — generally around $50 per child in our experience — but the larger your group is, the larger your premium will be. This is why we recommend John Hancock first and foremost for solo travelers or groups of adults.
No adventure sports coverage
John Hancock does not offer a waiver for adventure sports. In fact, its policies explicitly state that trip cancellation, interruption, airline changes, delays, and missed connection coverage will be voided if you’re injured while participating in a hazardous activity.
What counts as a hazardous activity?
If you plan on participating in any high-risk activities while abroad, we recommend Travelex or IMG, both of which offer waivers to cover them.
Robust coverage for mountaineers, divers, jumpers, and more
Why we chose it
Our favorite travel insurance plan from IMG is the iTravelInsured LX, which comes with ample built-in coverage. Besides our five coverage essentials, the LX policy includes things like “hospital of choice” (allowing you to select a medical provider you’re comfortable with) and rental car damage (which costs extra with many other providers); it even covers $15 for an “overnight stay movie rental.”
This plan also has robust emergency coverage: $500,000 for medical care, up to $1 million for medical evacuation, and $50,000 for a “non-medical” emergency evacuation. These limits are more generous than we saw with either Travelex or Allianz, although they are matched by John Hancock’s Silver and Gold plans.
Tailored to adventure sports
We dubbed IMG “best for thrill-seekers” thanks to its specialized coverage for extreme sports, plus extensive medical care and emergency evacuation coverage.
These are both crucial if you’re injured while traveling in a remote location. In that same vein, the company’s LX plan includes $10,000 for search and rescue, so you’ll be fully covered even while you’re off the grid. We also like that IMG insures up to $2,000 (or $500 per day) for sports equipment rentals — it was the only company we saw that does so.
Cancel for any reason
The other special thing about IMG’s iTravelInsured LX policy is that it includes “cancel for any reason” coverage — an option that drove prices up by as much as 40 percent with other providers. If you’re adventuring in hard-to-reach places, chances are you’ll spend a good chunk of change to get there. In that case, it’s a good idea to protect your deposits with a more forgiving cancellation policy.
Points to consider
IMG’s policies come with pre-set levels of coverage, meaning there’s not a lot of room to tinker with your coverage. The only option we saw as an add-on was a “pre-existing conditions” waiver — everything else, from medical limits to baggage protection, came built into the policy. While this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself (the iTravelInsured LX plan comes with exceptional coverage), it also means you have a little less control over policy price.
Tends to be pricier
Our sample quotes from IMG rang in higher than those from Travelex, John Hancock, or Allianz. This is partly because iTravelInsured LX (admittedly a deluxe plan) was the only one that met our coverage criteria. Of course, by paying more with IMG you’ll get a lot more out of your policy than you might with another company — especially if you need insurance for an adventurous (and potentially hazardous) trip.
Ideal for year-round, multi-trip travelers
Why we chose it
Allianz is our only top pick that offers annual, multi-trip plans to cover all your travels under a single policy. This is ideal if you frequently travel for business or have multiple vacations planned in a year. Keep in mind that the only annual plan to meet our coverage requirements is AllTrips Executive, its top-tier option. Still, costs averaged around a few hundred dollars — which is much cheaper than buying a new policy for every trip.
Lengthy single-trip plans
In addition to annual plans, Allianz offers single-trip coverage up to one year in length. This is much more generous than companies like John Hancock and IMG, whose policies max out at 90 days.
If you’re planning any trip longer than three months (say, an extended backpacking excursion or studying abroad) Allianz may be a great match. We’d recommend getting quotes from both Allianz and Travelex — our only two picks with coverage longer than 90 days.
Kids’ coverage is included
With Allianz’s OneTrip Premier plan, kids under 18 are included on their parents’ policy for free. This is part of the reason Allianz returned some of the cheapest quotes in our group travel scenarios — coming in a close second to Travelex for the family of four.
It’s also worth noting that children are not included on any of Allianz’s lower-tier policies (Like OneTrip Basic or OneTrip Prime), so it actually ends up being cheaper for families to choose the plan with the best coverage.
Points to consider
Lower medical limits
Allianz travel insurance comes with low medical limits compared to other companies. Its most robust plan, OneTrip Premier, maxes out at $50,000 for emergency medical coverage — the same level offered by John Hancock’s most basic policy. While $50,000 will be adequate for many trips, it may not provide enough protection for people participating in adventurous or hazardous activities.
Limited coverage upgrades
Allianz lacks some of the coverage add-ons that we appreciated from other providers. Most notably, it doesn’t offer “cancel for any reason” coverage, a popular option that greatly expands the scope of what your insurance will reimburse. The company is also missing a waiver for extreme or adventure sports, so travelers participating in those activities are better off looking for a policy with Travelex or IMG.
How to make sure you don’t overpay for travel insurance
Insure prepaid, non-refundable costs
If you’re opting for cancellation coverage, make sure to only include prepaid, non-refundable deposits in your overall trip cost. The higher your trip’s value, the more your insurance will cost — so there’s so sense including charges that you’ll be able to recoup without insurance, like refundable rentals or hotel reservations with a lenient cancellation policy.
Don’t pay for double coverage
Before purchasing travel insurance, make sure the policy doesn’t duplicate something you’re already covered for. For example, many homeowners insurance policies insure your belongings even when you’re away from home, meaning they duplicate the lost/stolen baggage coverage in comprehensive travel insurance. Likewise, your auto insurance or credit card might cover you for rental car damage in another country (though you should definitely check first).
Choose a higher medical deductible
Just like health insurance, medical travel insurance includes a deductible that you must pay out of pocket before your provider will chip in. The higher your deductible, the less you’ll pay for coverage — so bumping that number up can help you save. Keep in mind, though, that the difference might only be a few bucks. In that case, paying a little extra on your policy is worth it for the added peace of mind.
Skip spendy upgrades
Two travel insurance options — “cancel for any reason “ and “cancel for work reasons” — greatly expand the scope of your insurance. Instead of restricting coverage to a handful of pre-approved scenarios (like illness or injury), they guarantee an insurance payout no matter what the circumstance was for cancellation.
However, these options mean a big price hike; “cancel for any reason” in particular can add up to 40 percent to your overall cost. If you’re looking to insure your trip on the cheap, it’s best to skip these catch-all clauses.
Cheap travel insurance FAQs
What is the cheapest travel insurance?
Is travel insurance worth it?
How much travel insurance do I need?
The best cheap travel insurance: Summed up
|A.M. Best financial strength rating|
|Max trip length|
|24/7 worldwide assistance|
|Free coverage for kids under 18|
|Adventure sports coverage|
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