There is no one-size-fits-all best travel insurance policy since they are suited to your individual needs.
Despite this, your travel insurance policy should offer you reasonable coverage and should cover at least the basics, such as medical emergencies and trip interruption and cancellation.
How much coverage you decide to get on these and what else you want to include will depend on your situation: where you are going, how long you’re staying, what you will do there and even what you’re taking with you.
What Is Included in the Best Travel Insurance Policies?
A travel insurance policy should offer you enough coverage for your basic needs during a trip:
- Medical emergencies coverage
- Trip disruption (cancellation, delay) coverage
- Coverage for loss of personal belongings
- Coverage for emergency evacuation or repatriation
You can then add to the policy through what are known as “add-ons”. This means that on top of the “basics” package, you can choose to pay more so you have coverage for things not normally included in a regular travel insurance policy, such as winter sports, insurance of expensive gadgets, or liability insurance.
Travel Insurance Policy for Medical Emergencies
The best travel insurance policy for medical emergencies should include at least the following:
- Emergency services, such as the ambulance and ER
- Surgical procedures
- Doctor’s visit
- The cost of prescription drugs and medicine
On top of that, you can customize the plan according to your needs, such as adding coverage for dental emergencies or certain activities.
When purchasing medical insurance, read the activities included in your policy carefully. If you are going skiing, you will want to make sure you’ll be covered for any skiing related injuries. Same with cycling, surfing, or recreational sports.
If a certain activity is not included in a travel insurance plan, you can ask whether you can pay more in order to add it to the policy.
Keep in mind though, that most travel insurers will refuse to pay for your hospital bills if you’ve gotten into an accident due to “recklessness”, such as driving while drunk. They will also not cover you for activities listed on their “exclusions”, such as hunting, taking part in professional sports, running with bulls, or base jumping.
When you are travelling abroad, where there will be a new healthcare system, it is always important to have travel health insurance. This is especially true for countries with high costs of healthcare such as the US. If you get into an accident or suddenly fall ill during your trip, the treatment could end up costing you much more than your entire trip combined.
Travel Insurance Policy for Trip Disruption
A good travel insurance policy will offer you coverage for trip disruption – i.e. in case you have to cancel your trip for justifiable reasons, it is cut short or delayed. A good trip disruption travel insurance policy can include:
- Trip cancellation. It covers all or part of the travel and accommodation costs you lose if you have to cancel your trip. Insurance companies will only cover you for cancellation in certain circumstances, so make sure to read the conditions.
- Trip interruption. It covers all or part of the accommodation costs or other arrangements in case you have to cut your trip short. Only certain reasons are considered valid, based on the specific policy.
- Missed departure. It covers all or part of the travel arrangement costs if you miss your flight or another transportation method, but only if the reasons are out of your control, such as an accident.
- Trip delay. It will cover some of your expenses during the delay, such as accommodation and food. The coverage depends on the duration of the delay – usually up to 12 hours.
In case you have booked an expensive trip, and risk losing substantial amounts of money, then you can purchase a Cancel For Any Reason addition to your travel insurance policy.
Travel Insurance Policy for Loss or Theft of Personal Belongings
Another item that should be added to your travel insurance policy is coverage for loss, damage or theft of your personal belongings/baggage. The amount of coverage you get depends on the policy, but you can expect to have a limit either per luggage or per item.
You can choose to have coverage for the entire trip or only during the check-in or check-out at the airport/station.
Travel Insurance Policy for Evacuation or Repatriation
If you need to be emergently evacuated (repatriated) to your home country, including coverage for repatriation in your travel insurance policy will save you a lot of expenses. Travel insurance companies will usually cover repatriation for medical reasons only if it could not wait until you returned home.
Additional/Optional Travel Insurance Coverage
On top of a basic travel insurance plan, you can choose to include additional coverage. For example:
- For “adventurous” activities. Travel insurance policies will not normally cover potentially dangerous activities, such as skiing, scuba diving, climbing, white-water rafting, etc. unless you pay extra to have them included.
- Expensive items/technology. Even if you have baggage insurance, a lot of companies will exclude expensive items, such as laptops, cameras, jewellery or designer clothes from their regular policies. You will have to get additional coverage for them.
- Terrorism coverage. If there is an event of terrorism during your trip, any medical costs or other losses can be insured under terrorism coverage.
- Personal/legal liability. If your actions cause bodily injury to someone or damage someone’s property, then personal or legal liability insurance will cover for the costs.
How Much Should the Travel Insurance Policy Maximum Be?
There are health insurance policies with different amounts of coverage, ranging from $20,000 or less to millions of dollars. For certain countries, such as Europe’s Schengen Zone, you need at least €30,000 worth of travel health insurance, but you can choose to have more.
The policy maximum is the highest amount that the travel insurance policy will pay for any damages or accidents during your trip. Naturally, policies with a higher amount of coverage will cost more, and it is you who chooses how much you are willing to pay.
So, you should choose your travel insurance policy maximum after considering the following factors:
- Your destination. In countries such as the US or some EU States, where healthcare costs are very high, a $30,000 policy maximum may not be much help if you require extended medical care. You could spend the $30,000 entirely, and still be left with tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in additional medical bills.
- The duration of your trip. If you are only spending a few days abroad, you don’t really need a million-dollar/euro policy maximum, but it could be necessary for weeks- or month-long trips.
- What you will be doing on your trip. If you intend to do a lot of increased-risk activities, such as camping, skiing, scuba diving, surfing, etc, a higher policy maximum makes sense due to the increased probability of getting into an accident.
Travel Insurance Policy for Groups
If you are travelling as a family or part of a group, you may be able to get a shared travel insurance policy through one of the following options:
- Family holiday insurance. This travel insurance policy will work for two adults and up to four minor children who are travelling together.
- Single-parent family travel insurance.
- Couple travel insurance. This is usually only available to couples who are married or at least living together.
These types of insurance policies will usually cost less than if you were purchasing each policy individually. However, you must all be going on the same trip together. Group policies will usually not offer coverage to family members who are on different trips.
How Much Does a Travel Insurance Policy Cost?
The cost of your travel insurance plan is usually between 4% to 12% of the overall cost of your trip. It depends on:
- The overall cost of your trip. If you have a more expensive trip, then the insurance plan will be more expensive simply because if you do need to make a claim, it will cost the insurance company more to reimburse you.
- The coverage you need/choose. If your plan has just basic health coverage, it will cost less than if you were to include other factors as well, such as trip cancellation, baggage insurance, terrorism, or different sports activities.
- How long you will be away for. Travel insurance policies are usually priced by day, so a 30-day will cost more than if you were only travelling for one week or a few days.
- Your destination. Since some countries or activities involve a higher risk, then the price of travel insurance will change depending on your destination.
- Is it a single or group policy. If it is a group policy, how many people are included in your plan?
- Your age. The prices of travel insurance plans increase along with the age of the client. So, people over the age of 65 will have to pay more for the same plan (since they are more likely to make a claim), while very young children can sometimes be added to the parent’s plan with no extra costs.
When Is the Best Time to Buy Travel Insurance?
You should buy your travel insurance as soon as you book a trip, or at least two weeks prior to your trip. Naturally, the coverage will begin on the date you intend to travel, but in the meantime, you will have coverage in case your trip is cancelled, delayed, or you run into other problems.
Additionally, as the date of your departure nears, you will likely make more deposits so you can continue to include them on your coverage. But if you purchase your insurance at the last minute, you may not be able to get full coverage.