This guide shows you the best economical travel insurance plans, what they cover, and everything else you need to know14 February 2022
Many travelers ask “what’s the best cheap travel insurance plan”, but they also worry they will need to sacrifice the important coverages or use an untrustworthy company. But with the right strategy, there are many plans with great coverage that will protect your money and keep you safe.
These are the most common reasons for buying travel insurance, and there are several budget-minded plans that cover these:
But, to keep the costs lower for budget-minded travelers, the insurance companies need to reduce their risk by reducing coverage. They do this by removing some specific coverages, or they reduce the amount of coverage.
Here are some examples of how the insurance companies keep the cost lower:
This is the best plan if you only want coverage for canceled trips. There is no coverage for medical emergencies, evacuation, baggage, or delays. All recommended plans are from A.M.Best Rated reputable companies that specialize in travel insurance.
Example quote $130 (includes all travelers): For the above plan, the example trip includes 2 travelers (45, 45) on a two-week trip, with a total trip cost of $5,000).
Comprehensive travel insurance covers cancellation, interruption, emergency medical, evacuation, baggage, and delays. These plans offer the well-rounded coverage of travel insurance, but with lower coverage limits and fewer features for budget-minded travelers.
Example quote $168 (includes all travelers): For the above plan, the example trip includes 2 travelers (45, 45) on a two-week trip, with a total trip cost of $5,000).
Example quote $172 (includes all travelers): For the above plan, the example trip includes 2 travelers (45, 45) on a two-week trip, with a total trip cost of $5,000).
In general, travel insurance costs between 4-10% of your insured trip cost, with the average being around 5%.
The plans above are closer to 3%, which makes an economical choice like this a very reasonable investment. For less than the sales tax in most states, you can protect your trip cost against cancellations, medical emergencies, baggage, and travel delays.
The cost of travel insurance is mostly based on:
The main driving force in policy cost is trip cost, which is why the estimates for travel insurance are based on a percentage of trip cost.
Most travelers purchase comprehensive travel insurance that packages together a number of valuable benefits. Two of the three best cheap travel insurance plans above have full comprehensive coverage, with lower limits and fewer coverage options. Here is a brief overview of the coverage:
Trip Cancellation Insurance
This protects your trip cost if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason. The most common reason is someone getting sick right before the trip, but it also covers death in the family, hurricane & weather, house fire, quarantine, jury duty, terrorism, and more. The medical issues also apply to family members, so a parent getting sick and needing your care would be covered.
Covid-19 coverage for cancellations and medical treatment
The pandemic remains a concern for all travers, especially those traveling with children or elderly parents. The plans above cover cancellations if you get Covid-19 and a doctor verifies that you cannot take your trip. In this case, Covid is treated like any other sickness for trip cancellation coverage. The comprehensive plans with medical coverage also cover you if you get Covid while traveling and need emergency medical care.
Emergency Medical Coverage
This covers expenses for emergency medical treatment while on your trip. Your insurance from home may not cover you when you leave your home country, and expenses abroad can escalate quickly.
Emergency Evacuation Coverage
This coverage pays for medical transportation if needed, including ambulances to the hospital, and airlift from a remote location, or a medical flight back home.
This provides coverage for extra expenses caused by travel delays, such as extra nights in a hotel, meals, or personal items.
Baggage Loss, Theft, or Damage
This covers your baggage not only on your flight, but on your entire trip. It will reimburse you for personal items and luggage if your bags are lost, stolen, or damaged during your trip.
If your baggage is delayed in reaching your destination, you might need extra cloths or personal items. This coverage reimburses you for these expenses.
With a lower budget for travel insurance, there are tradeoffs in both coverage limits and the coverage itself. While the most expensive plans will have high limits and optional coverages included automatically, a lower-cost plan will have lower coverage limits and fewer options.
This does not mean a lower-cost plan is not worth it, just be aware of what coverage you are getting. Here are the main ways the lower-cost plans are different from more expensive plans:
Secondary vs. Primary medical coverage
These term refer to who pays first in the event of a claim. With Primary medical coverage, the travel insurance policy pays emergency medical claims first no matter what other insurance you have that would pay. With Secondary coverage, you would first need to exhaust any other coverage you might have with another insurance policy (insurance from home, etc.) before the travel insurance kicks in.
In the end both versions will cover you, but Primary is easier in the event of a claim
Travel insurance can be quoted and purchased immediately online using our comparison search engine. If you use the links for the plans above, the search results will show plans from that company first so they’re easy to find.
To get a quote and purchase, you will need:
Use the Best Plans links above to see that company’s plans highlighted.
No, not all trips require travel insurance. For example, a domestic trip where all the expenses are fully refundable would not require travel insurance. But for trips where you are pre-paying money that you could lose if you needed to cancel, you should consider insurance. Plus, for trips abroad you should always have emergency medical coverage because your insurance from home may not cover you.
Most travel insurance companies have 2-3 plans at different premium levels, following the “good, better, best” pricing strategy. I tend to recommend plans in the middle level because they have great value– the right mix of coverage and pricing. Cheaper travel insurance plans will have lower coverage limits for medical, evacuation, baggage, and delays. They might also be missing some less popular coverages.
Travel insurance covers sudden and unforeseen events such getting sick, a death in the family, a hurricane, theft, a house fire, and more. Therefore, if you already know you will need to file a claim you cannot purchase travel insurance to cover it. The list of exclusions also includes losses as a result of war, professional sports, some hazardous activities, drug/alcohol abuse, etc.
Yes, all companies listed on our search engine are regulated, licensed insurance companies underwritten by large, financially secure companies.
All companies also comply with the Zero Complaint Policy. This means if a complaint with a company regarding a claim cannot be resolved to Squaremouth’s satisfaction the company will be removed from the search engine.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.