What's in this guide?
- What do comprehensive travel insurance policies cover?
- Compare comprehensive travel insurance insurance
- Optional coverage under a comprehensive travel insurance policy
- Who can buy comprehensive travel insurance?
- How is trip cancellation different from cancelling for any reason?
- What's not covered under comprehensive travel insurance?
- How do I compare comprehensive travel insurance policies?
- Bottom line
What do comprehensive travel insurance policies cover?
Comprehensive travel insurance policies pay out in the event of accidents and other travel emergencies, such as delayed travel, trip cancellation or interruption, medical assistance and lost baggage. Most policies automatically include the following features:
- Trip cancellation. You’ll be reimbursed for deposits and payments made for planned trips that are cancelled if you or your travel companion, business partner, or family member dies, becomes ill or suffers an injury.
- Trip interruption. You’ll be covered for 100% to 150% of non-refundable trip expenses if your travel plans are interrupted for reasons outside of your control. You’ll either be reimbursed up to a specified amount or just for the what you pay to return to your destination.
- Trip delay. If your trip is delayed your insurance company will determine what you’ll be compensated based on estimates of food and shelter.
- Baggage and personal items. This benefit covers lost, stolen or damaged baggage while on your trip.
- Accident, sickness or medical expenses. If you’re injured or fall ill while traveling, you’ll be covered for medical expenses.
- Emergency evacuation and repatriation. Coverage for transportation to the nearest medical facility or reparations in the case of your death.
- Accidental death and dismemberment. Coverage in the case of accidental death or loss of a limb while traveling or after you return home.
- Baggage delay. This benefit reimburses you for any personal items you purchase while your bag is delayed for 12 hours or more.
- Missed connection. This benefit provides coverage for missed connections due to common carrier causes or bad weather.
Compare comprehensive travel insurance insurance
Optional coverage under a comprehensive travel insurance policy
Along with the built-in benefits, most insurance companies allow you to tailor your plans with extras, such as:
- Cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage. This optional benefit makes it possible for you to cancel your trip, no matter the reason. Most comprehensive plans refund up to 50% of non-refundable expenses if the trip is cancelled up to 48 hours before departure.
- Car rental collision. This benefit covers physical damage to a rental car that you are liable for.
- Pre-existing medical condition waiver. If you file a claim due to a specific illness, the insurance company will conduct a thorough investigation into your medical history to determine if you were aware of your condition 60 to 180 days prior to the purchase of your policy. If your policy has a pre-existing condition waiver, your claim won’t be denied in the event you suffer a serious illness while traveling.
Who can buy comprehensive travel insurance?
Most insurers will offer comprehensive coverage to individuals younger than 80 years old, and the extent of coverage varies between plans and companies.
However, most travel insurance companies will cover the full cost of policyholders’ trips in the event of trip interruption and cancellation.
How is trip cancellation different from cancelling for any reason?
A comprehensive travel insurance plan has benefits that make it easy for you to cancel your trip if there’s an emergency. While the trip cancellation benefit has limits to the reasons for reimbursement, the cancel for any reason benefit makes it possible to cancel your trip for absolutely any reason.
This is included in all comprehensive coverage, but it only covers unforeseen events like:
- Death or hospitalization of a family member.
- Unexpected injury or illness that makes traveling impossible for you or a traveling companion.
- Common carrier-related issues or inclement weather.
- Jury duty or other legal obligations that prevent you from leaving the country.
- Unforeseen natural disaster at your travel destination or at home.
Cancel for any reason
CFAR coverage is an optional benefit that allows you to cancel your trip without giving a reason. However, you need to purchase this rider within the first 21 days of your initial trip deposit, and you must cancel your trip within 48 hours of your travel date.
Typically, your insurer will reimburse 50% to 90% of your prepaid trip costs, and it might be a mix of cash and travel credits.
What’s not covered under comprehensive travel insurance?
The following exclusions generally apply to comprehensive travel insurance plans:
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Unless you opt into a preexisting waiver, your policy won’t kick in if your pre-existing condition affects you travel.
- Medical tourism. Expenses related to elective medical surgery.
- Extreme or high-risk sporting events. While most comprehensive plans don’t cover high-risk sports, such as bungee jumping and skydiving, you may opt to purchase additional cover for these activities.
- Venereal disease or loss. Expenses for medical attention for AIDS, abortion or pregnancy, unless it’s a pregnancy complication.
- Losses caused by war. Whether war is declared or not, your insurance policy will not provide coverage for civil disorder, military actions or riots.
- Unlawful act. Loss due to your participation in an unlawful act or while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Suicide or bodily harm. Loss of life or injury intentionally caused by you.
- Frequent flyer tickets. Loss of frequent flyer tickets, free trips, award travel or credit card miles.
- Nervous, psychological or mental disorders. Loss caused by nervous, psychological or mental disorders.
- Unfavorable weather. This is different from inclement weather. If you cancel your trip because of a rain weather forecast, you don’t have a claim, unless you purchase the optional cancel for any reason benefit.
How do I compare comprehensive travel insurance policies?
To narrow down your options, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the policy provide coverage for overseas injury or illness?
- What countries are excluded from coverage?
- Does the policy cover emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains? This is important to consider if you are traveling to a remote area.
- Is emergency medical assistance provided 24/7?
- Does the policy cover lost, stolen or damaged luggage? What’s the maximum pay out in the event of a claim?
- Does the policy cover trip cancellation for non-refundable bookings or flight reservations in the event of sudden death, illness or other emergencies as it relates to a family member or other non-traveling companions?
- Will you be covered for personal accidents?
- Does the cost of the coverage match the level of benefits provided?
- What is the policy deductible?
- Is the insurance provider reputable?
- Can you make adjustments to your policy if necessary such as extend the period of coverage or add additional benefits in the future?
- Does the policy offer a pre-existing medical waiver?
- Does the company offer a dedicated customer service team to assist with policy application and making a claim?
Comprehensive travel insurance is just that: comprehensive. It covers you a full spectrum of events, from accidents to trip delays and lost luggage — and you can customize your policy even more with riders and waivers.
Most plans can be tailored to suit your specific travel needs, so it’s a good idea to compare travel insurance companies to get the best possible policy and rate.
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