Best Cheap Travel Insurance Companies: Nationwide and IMG Patriot Travel
We decided two travel insurance companies should share the title of having the best cheap rates: Nationwide and IMG. They each represent one of two categories most important to travelers: comprehensive policies that offers a variety of coverages and travel medical insurance. Depending on the needs of an individual traveler, someone might find they only need one of these policies instead of the other.
You'll notice there were two comprehensive travel insurance policies – plans that offer both traditional and medical coverages – with more affordable rates than the Nationwide Single-Trip Essential Plan. We recommend the Nationwide plan over the Travelex Flight Insure Plus and RoamRight Essential policy because the coverage offered is substantially better for a minimal increase in cost. For example, the Nationwide plan includes accident and sickness medical expense coverage of up to $75,000 while the other two have limits of only $5,000 and $15,000, respectively.
Best for Comprehensive Coverage
Nationwide Essential Plan: At a cost of only $62 for our sample vacationer and trip, Nationwide’s Essential Plan is the best cheap travel insurance policy that offers comprehensive coverage. In addition to the standard coverages associated with travel insurance, the Essential Plan includes health, medical, death and dismemberment, as well as other benefits.
Benefits of the policy also include coverage for events before and during a trip such as trip cancellation, trip interruption and travel delays. Policyholders have access to the company’s Travel Assistance service, too.
Nationwide Single-Trip Essential Plan Benefits
|Trip Cancellation||Maximum of $10,000 (prepaid, non-refundable trip costs)|
|Trip Interruption||Maximum of 125% of insured trip costs; Max: $12,500|
|Trip Delay||$150 per day, up to $600. (Travel must be delayed by 6 or more hours.)|
|Baggage and Personal Effects||$600 ($250 per article limit, $500 combined limit for valuable items; coverage is secondary.)|
|Accident & Sickness Medical Expense Coverage (Emergency only)||$75,000 (Coverage is secondary to all other collectible insurance that has been paid or had its limits exhausted.)|
|Emergency Medical Evacuation / Repatriation of Remains||$250,000|
Best for Travel Medical Coverage
IMG Patriot Travel Medical Insurance: A great, affordable travel health insurance plan that can provide a week of health and medical expense coverage for as little as $8-$22, depending on the deductible and maximum dollar amount the policy will cover.
Everyone traveling abroad, especially for extended periods, should research if their health insurance in the U.S. will cover them, and if not, whether they need travel health insurance. For someone who is facing small non-refundable costs while traveling internationally, but still have a need for health insurance, the IMG Patriot Travel Medical Insurance is the best cheap travel insurance plan.
The policy covers intensive care, surgery, physician visits, diagnostic procedures, prescription medication, local ambulance expenses, emergency room visits and other costs. It also includes emergency medical evacuation, in the event a policyholder needs to quickly get to a hospital or back to their home country for unexpected medical treatment.
IMG Patriot International Travel Medical Insurance
|Maximum Limit Options||$50,000, $100,000, $500,000, $1 million, $2 million (U.S. citizens only)|
|Individual Deductible Options||$0, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $2,500|
|Intensive Care, Surgery, Physician Visits, Diagnostic Procedures, Prescription Medication||Up to the maximum limit|
|Emergency Room||Up to the maximum limit. Additional $250 deductible if not admitted as an inpatient.|
|Dental Emergency||Up to maximum limit for treatment due to an accident. $100 maximum limit for treatment of unexpected pain to sound, natural teeth.|
|Emergency Medical Evacuation||Up to $500,000 lifetime maximum (independent of the Maximum limit). Not subject to deductible.|
Best Travel Insurance Company for Domestic Trips: Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection
When it comes to domestic travel in the U.S., Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection is the best company. It offers two products that are useful individually but also compliment each other. Most travel insurance companies offer some form of coverage for flights, but Berkshire Hathaway's AirCare is unique. The company actively tracks flight activity and automatically transfers payouts for some circumstances without the need of a policyholder filing a claim. It also transfers money to policyholders for unique situations, such as a tarmac delay. In addition to AirCare, the carrier's ExactCare offers more of the traditional travel insurance coverages. Whether they are making a perennial visit to see family, on a business trip, or taking a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Florida, these are coverages to strongly consider.
AirCare: A modern travel insurance product that insures domestic (or international) flights. Premiums for trips within the U.S. start as low as $34 and the policies pay claims automatically when a qualifying event occurs. For example, if a regularly scheduled flight is cancelled, the AirCare service deposits $150 into an account chosen by the policyholder. Other qualifying events include payouts for checked baggage that is delayed or lost and a $1,000 bonus paid to policyholders who sit on the tarmac in their plane for more than two hours.
AirCare Coverages and Payments (domestic flights)
|Covered Cancellation||$150||If your regularly scheduled flight is cancelled.|
|Route Repair||$150||If you miss a connection due to a flight delay. They also arrange same-day travel on any airline and pay flight-change costs, up to the policy limit.|
|Deluxe Delays||$50||If your departing or connecting flight is delayed two hours or more. Could be spent on food, Wi-Fi, access to exclusive airport lounges, etc.|
|Delayed Baggage||$500||Send a picture of your airline-issued baggage claim form to begin the claims process. AirCare transfers $500 to your specified account if the airline takes more than 12 hours to deliver them.|
|Lost Baggage||$500||Send a picture of your airline-issued baggage claim form to begin the claims process. AirCare will quickly transfer $500 into your account, so you can purchase replacement items and get back to your trip.|
|Tarmac Bonus||$1,000||If your plane sits on the tarmac — with you in it — for more than two hours, AirCare automatically transfer $1,000 into your account. Flights are tracked in real time, so you don’t have to submit a claim to receive a payment.|
ExactCare: The other product offered by Berkshire Hathaway Travel Insurance is a more traditional travel insurance policy. It can be purchased alongside AirCare and includes up to $25,000 in medical expense coverage, $2,500 for trip cancelled for a covered reason, up to $150 per day/$750 per trip for delays, and reimbursement for delayed or lost baggage.
ExactCare also includes a 150% reimbursement for costs associated with trip interruption up to $2,500 and reimbursed up to $1,000 for airfare to return home due to a trip interruption. The policy also includes $500,000 in emergency evacuation evacuation or to cover the repatriation of remains.
Best International Travel Insurance Company: Allianz
No matter where abroad someone is traveling, Allianz probably has the best international travel insurance. Simply assuming the most affordable international travel insurance policy the best is an inept way to determine which policy to purchase. All international travel insurance policies – their coverages and costs – are relatively similar but a single carrier might not offer the best rates for every traveler, especially depending on their age.
We think Allianz has the best international travel insurance because its pricing is competitive and it offers technology, support and services others don't. Allianz Global Assistance services, which every policyholder can use, are easily accessible by the carrier’s TravelSmart app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices.
The TravelSmart app enables policyholders to quickly access information about their travel insurance policy and emergency numbers overseas via their smartphone. They can also use to call the TravelSmart Hotline, an award-winning group of experts to help them whenever they are in need – be it a lost passport or a medical emergency.
Best Travel Insurance Company For Comprehensive Policies: AIG
AIG has been offering travel insurance for more than 25 years and caters to almost every traveler with a suite of different product options. In addition to standard policies that cover single-trips or exclusively flights, AIG's Travel Guard has ready-to-go plans specifically for international trips, business travel, for coverage needed throughout an entire year, cruises, golf and ski trips, families and more. It might not be the cheapest way to shop for a policy, but it is the fastest – AIG has already done the homework for you. Travelers just have to select the policy most appropriate for the trip they've planned.
AIG's Travel Guard also offers an optional “Adventure Sports Coverage” for those planning on doing activities that are not covered by the carrier's basic travel insurance plans. But even AIG's basic travel insurance policies cover more activities than other travel insurance companies. For example, some RoamRight travel insurance policies do not cover snow sports, such as alpine skiing or snowboarding.
We've listed activities that AIG's basic travel insurance policies will cover and ones that will require a traveler to pay a higher premium for coverage.
Activities Covered By AIG Travel Guard Insurance
|Activities Covered By A Basic Policy||Related Activities That Require Additional Coverage|
|Downhill skiing & snowboarding||Mono-skiing, heli-skiing, dry slope skiing|
|Backcountry or off-piste skiing or snowboarding (only when accompanied by an official guide)|
|Ski boarding, Biathlon, Sledging, Dog Sledging|
|Rambling or trekking up to 3,000m without climbing equipment||Hiking/glacier walking up to 5,000 meters up to grade II tracks, according to UIAA. Or grades requiring the use of ropes or climbing equipment, such as ice axes and belay devices.|
|Roller Skating||Ice Hockey, Field Hockey|
|Scuba diving (above a depth of 20 meters)||Scuba diving (below a depth of 20 meters)|
|Water Skiing/Windsurfing/ Surfing/Snorkeling||Jet Skiing (No racing – no Personal Liability or Accident cover)|
|Parascending (over water)||Paragliding or parasailing|
|Surfing or Windsurfing on the sea|
|Sailing within Territorial Waters (not as a member of the crew)||Canoeing, Rafting up to level 3|
|Deep Sea Fishing|
|Hot Air Ballooning (pre-booked with a tour operator)|
Best Travel Health Insurance Company: HTH Travel Insurance
Assuming a traveler is a U.S. resident and traveling abroad, HTH Travel Insurance offers the best travel health insurance plans. Almost everyone is eligible – you only need to be 74 years old or younger, expecting to be outside the U.S. longer than 24 hours and a U.S. resident – and the affordable plan has numerous other benefits.
HTH Travel Insurance covers surgery, anesthesia, radiation therapy, in-hospital doctor visits, x-rays and lab tests. It will also pay 100% of the costs (after a policy's deductible is met) of ambulatory services and 50% of covered expenses for outpatient prescription drugs outside the U.S. Consistent with other travel medical plans, HTH travel insurance will also pay %100 of the cost for dental care needed after a related injury, up to $200. Mental health services are also covered up to the limit of this policy.
Additional Benefits of Single-Trip HTH Travel Insurance
|Benefits||Insurer Pays Without a Deductible Being Applicable|
|Accidental Death and Dismemberment||Maximum benefit is $25,000.|
|Repatriation Of Remains||Maximum benefit is $25,000.|
|Medical Evacuation||Maximum benefit per trip for all evacuations is $500,000.|
|Bedside Visit||Maximum Benefit per trip is up to $1,500 for the cost of one economy round trip airfare ticket to the place of the Hospital Confinement for one person.|
Unlike other travel medical plans, single-trip plans offered by HTH Travel Insurance give policyholders flexibility to choose the maximum benefit (or money the insurer will pay out) and their deductible.
Travel health insurance is relatively affordable (as little as $10 per day or less) but with the ability you manipulate the maximum benefit and deductible, a money-conscious traveler can save even more.
The only drawback to the single-trip HTH Travel Insurance plan is that in includes a 180-day pre-existing condition exclusion. That means, for example, if you were diagnosed to an illness and then required medical treatment while traveling related to that illness, your policy might not cover those expenses.
Best Rated Travel Insurance Companies
If something goes wrong with your trip, or you’re concerned about that possibility, it’s important to know that your travel insurance company has the financial means to pay out any claims. The following table lists the top travel insurance companies, along with their underwriters and financial strength ratings.
|Travel Insurer||Underwriter||Financial Strength Rating|
|AIG Travel Guard||National Union Fire Insurance||A (Excellent)|
|APRIL Travel Protection||Generali||A (Excellent)|
|Allianz Global Assistance||BCS Insurance/Jefferson Insurance||A- (Excellent)|
|AXA Assistance USA||Nationwide||A+ (Superior)|
|Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection||Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance||A++ (Superior)|
|CSA Travel Protection||Generali||A (Excellent)|
|Global Alert||American Modern Insurance||A+ (Superior)|
|HTH Travel Insurance||Allied/Nationwide||A+ (Superior)|
|John Hancock||Starr Indemnity & Liability||A (Excellent)|
|MH Ross/TripAssure||Arch Insurance||A+ (Superior)|
|RoamRight||Arch Insurance||A+ (Superior)|
|Seven Corners||United State Fire Insurance/Lloyd’s of London||A (Excellent)|
|Travel Insured||United State Fire Insurance||A (Excellent)|
|Travelex||Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance||A++ (Superior)|
|TravelSafe||United State Fire Insurance||A (Excellent)|
Choosing the Best Travel Insurance Company
In addition to cost, you should carefully evaluate the coverage offered by a travel insurance company in order to determine if they offer the best policy for your needs. You should make sure that the travel insurance you purchase covers:
- Your safety and property in all of the locations you're traveling to
- Injuries incurred during any activities that you've planned, such as skiing, scuba diving, or hot air ballooning
- Appropriate methods of evacuation from a given location, such as a helicopter if you're traveling to a mountainous region that's hard to access
- Sufficient trip interruption fees--the cost of a delay or cancellation can be particularly high depending on your itinerary and the available method of transportation
- Sufficient lost or damaged property costs if you're traveling with expensive equipment, such as high-end cameras
- Flexibility in refunds, particularly important if you have concerns about whether you'll be able to make your trip on the intended date or there's political unrest in a location you're traveling through
You should also want to consider the claims process and customer service of an insurer. Some companies offer a simple app through which you can file claims after a trigger event, such as a flight delay or cancellation, or have 24-hour service. If this isn't the case, you may have a significantly more difficult time in getting your claim processed or assistance in resolving issues.