If you’re not properly prepared, unexpected events can completely ruin your vacation. Protect yourself with international travel insurance to minimize dealing with expenses relating to cancellation, medical bills, personal liability and a whole lot more.
Compare international travel insurance plans
What's in this guide?
- Compare international travel insurance plans
- Do I need travel insurance for international trips?
- How am I covered for medical expenses on overseas trips?
- Can I get international coverage if I'm pregnant?
- Can seniors get international travel insurance?
- What's not covered?
- Does travel insurance cover international work?
- What countries are covered?
- How much does international travel insurance cost?
- How do I get cheap international travel insurance?
- Should I use my credit card travel insurance for international trips?
- Travel tips
- What am I covered for overseas?
- Frequently asked questions
Do I need travel insurance for international trips?
Everyone’s travel needs are unique. Before buying an international travel insurance policy you may want to consider:
- Do I need increased coverage for expensive items? Many policies only pay a limited amount for items of luggage or personal items that are lost or stolen. If you’re willing to pay an extra premium, you can increase the amount of coverage provided for high-value items, for example expensive digital cameras or laptop computers. It’s important to note that insurers will apply a limit to what will be paid per item and a maximum limit for all items claims.
- Should I eliminate my deductible? Some policies let you adjust or even remove the deductible. Of course, the smaller the deductible, the larger the premiums. The charge to remove the deductible is usually about $15.
- Does my policy cover pre-existing conditions? Different providers treat pre-existing medical conditions differently, but it may be possible to include additional coverage for some pre-existing medical conditions, for example anxiety or dementia. A medical assessment may be required to apply for such coverage.
- Can I increase my rental car coverage option? You may wish to increase your policy’s car rental deductible.
- Am I covered if I ride a motorcycle? If you’re planning on traveling overseas via motorcycle or moped, you can arrange for your policy to include coverage. Prices will vary depending on the power of the bike, and you’ll likely be required to wear a helmet.
- Are winter sports covered? Some policies will offer extra coverage for an additional cost for winter sports and other activities that are seen to carry an increased risk. If you’re an adventure junkie or simply like to be active, this may be a necessary extra for you.
How am I covered for medical expenses on overseas trips?
One of the most important areas of coverage for overseas travel insurance is coverage for emergency medical expenses and emergency evacuation. Most insurers will provide coverage for:
- Emergency overseas medical assistance. This will usually include 24 hour emergency medical assistance, ambulance charges, medical evacuations and messages to relatives.
- Emergency hospital expenses. Provides coverage for overseas medical treatment if you’re injured or become sick overseas. This could include medical, hospital, surgical and nursing costs.
- Overseas dental coverage. Provides coverage for emergency dental treatment to relieve sudden and acute pain.
- Hospital cash allowance. Provides coverage for up to a maximum amount if you are hospitalized for longer than 48 hours.
What do I do if I suffer a medical emergency overseas?
- Get the necessary treatment. Your first priority is to find a suitable medical facility to be properly cared for.
- Contact your insurer and find out what will be required for your claim to be processed i.e. documents from medical staff, receipts for medication, ambulance drivers etc.
- Most insurers will have a 24 hours claims line that can be used in the event you need to make a claim.
- Keep necessary documentation that you’ll needed in the event of a claim.
- If you need to return home to seek treatment, your insurer is able to organize flights home if you are unable to do so.
Can I get international coverage with a pre-existing condition?
It’s possible to take out international travel insurance if you have pre-existing medical conditions, but not all pre-existing medical conditions will be covered under your policy. The definition of pre-existing medical conditions includes a range of medical and dental conditions of which you are aware, which have been investigated and/or treated by a health professional, or any condition for which you have had surgery or for which you take prescribed medicine.
The list of conditions excluded from many policies includes things like cancer, chronic or recurring pain, HIV infection and cardiovascular disease. If you end up in a medical emergency as a result of your uncovered pre-existing medical condition, you will have to cover your overseas medical expenses —which can be very expensive in some countries.
But some pre-existing conditions are automatically covered by many international travel insurance policies. These include acne, some allergies, asthma in people under 60 years of age, diabetes (terms and conditions apply), epilepsy and migraines.
If your condition is not automatically covered by the insurer, you have to provide further evidence around the nature of your condition and any current treatment you are undertaking. In some cases the insurer will exclude the condition from coverage or apply a premium loading. It’s always worth contacting your insurer to discuss your condition prior to purchasing coverage.
Depending on your provider, it may also be possible to purchase coverage for other pre-existing medical conditions, so read the fine print and speak to an insurance advisor to determine how each policy applies to you.
Can I get international coverage if I’m pregnant?
One common question people have when looking for international travel insurance is whether or not they can get coverage for pregnancy. You can. Depending on the provider, you can get coverage for up to 26 weeks pregnant.
What is normally covered?
- Unexpected complications
- Traveling before 26 weeks pregnant.
- Pregnant with one baby.
What isn’t generally covered?
- Travel past 26 weeks pregnant.
- Travel for a fertility treatment.
- If you experienced any complications prior to the trip.
- Traveling against the advice of a doctor.
Can seniors get international travel insurance?
It’s possible for seniors to get international travel insurance but there’s likely to be a premium loading for travelers over the age of 60. While conditions may vary between providers, most insurers will apply the following terms for older travelers looking to apply:
|Age||Able to take out a travel policy?|
|Under 60||Able to purchase any policy pending pre-existing medical conditions|
|Older than 60 years old||Able to purchase any policy though will usually have to pay an additional premium|
|Younger than 75 years old||Able to purchase policy with reduced coverage and benefits|
|Younger than 80 years old||Able to purchase policy with reduced coverage and benefits|
|Older than 80 years old||Will usually be required to submit evidence of their medical history before coverage is granted|
What’s not covered?
The following events are generally not covered on international travel insurance policies:
- Drugs/alcohol related claims. People tend to have more accidents when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but don’t expect to be covered if your claim is based on an event caused by your intoxication.
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles have a well-earned reputation as dangerous vehicles, and when you throw in the conditions many travelers end up riding in while overseas — such as without helmets, wearing inappropriate clothing and through heavy traffic congestion — it’s no great surprise most policies won’t cover you in the event of a motorcycle accident.
- Loss of luggage or personal belongings due to negligence. While theft of your personal items is covered, you won’t receive a benefit if your luggage or personal belongings are lost or stolen due to your negligence. For example, if you leave your bag sitting under a chair while you run to the bathroom, only to discover someone has stolen it while you were gone.
- Adventure activities not listed on policy. Adventure junkies beware: many activities like skydiving and parasailing will not be included on overseas travel insurance policies. Some policies will let you add coverage for certain activities, but be aware that if an activity is not specifically listed and you partake, you won’t be covered.
- Pregnancy after certain times. These policies will not cover you for childbirth overseas, nor will pregnant women be covered if they travel after 26 weeks.
- Losses in dangerous countries. The US government issues advice about regions that are not safe to visit. If you ignore this advice and travel to one of these dangerous countries, you won’t be covered if anything happens to you.
- Sexually-transmitted diseases. Overseas travel insurance policies will not cover you if you contract a sexually-transmitted disease while overseas.
Does travel insurance cover international work?
Generally, coverage for losses experienced while working overseas is generally excluded. That said, there are a number of policies designed for backpacker travelers that will provide some coverage in the event that you suffer an injury while working casually overseas.
Some tips for those looking to live and work overseas:
- Read the fine print to find out exactly what your travel insurance will cover.
- If planning to work overseas, check with your employer to see if you’ll be covered for losses experienced at work.
- It could be worth taking out coverage with a local insurance company in the country you are planning on working.
- If you’re planning on working overseas as an expatriate, you should consider taking out expatriate health insurance so you and your family have adequate coverage in place. In most cases, you’ll need to suspend your existing health insurance.
What countries are covered?
Though coverage can vary between providers, most insurance companies will provide coverage for the following countries and regions:
- Worldwide: North, Central and South America (including Hawaii and the Caribbean), Canada, Africa, Middle East, Japan, Greenland, Iceland, Arctic Circle, Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic Islands.
- Europe: Including Russia and the United Kingdom
- Asia: Including Japan and Bali
- Pacific: American Samoa, Ashmore & Cartier Islands, Bali, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Heard Island & McDonald Island, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis & Futuna Islands
- Australia: Mainland Australia and the Norfolk island.
However, it’s important to remember that some policies will not cover you if you visit a destination the US government has issued a warning against traveling. Make sure to be aware of government alerts. The State Department page under U.S. Passports & International Travel is the best resource for checking what countries have warnings.
How much does international travel insurance cost?
The amount you pay for international travel insurance will depend on a number of factors including:
- Where you’re traveling to. Countries that have an increased likelihood of claims will be more expensive to cover.
- Duration of your trip. The longer you plan to travel, the more you’ll pay.
- The policy you choose. A comprehensive policy with greater range of coverage will cost more than a basic policy.
- Additional coverage options. The inclusion of additional coverage for winter sports, laptop or other valuables will result in an increase in premium price.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Some pre-existing conditions will result in a premium loading.
- Your age. Premiums generally increase with age.
How do I get cheap international travel insurance?
- Shop around. The first thing to remember is not to go straight to a travel agent or airline for your international travel insurance. They tend to add huge commissions on top of the cost of your policy, charging you more than you need to pay.
- Compare what’s available. Don’t just buy the first policy you come across. Compare multiple policies from a range of providers before signing on the dotted line. Compare the price and coverage can save you a lot of trouble when disaster strikes.
- Determine an adequate level of coverage. Will a basic level of coverage be enough for the trip you’re planning? Or are you planning a complex journey to multiple destinations, requiring more detailed and expensive insurance coverage?
- Single-trip or multi-trip policy. Take a second to consider the number of trips you take each year. If you’re a frequent traveler, you might be better off investing in an annual multi-trip policy to provide insurance coverage for several trips for year. However, if the holiday you’re planning is more of a one-off thing, look at a policy to cover just this one journey.
- Consider joint policies. If you’re traveling with a spouse, family member or other companion, you can save a significant amount of money by purchasing a joint policy as opposed to buying separate coverage.
- Look for discounts. If you find a great discount, take advantage of it. Some insurers offer discounts to regular customers, while certain employers also have group deals with insurance companies.
- Get coverage right away. Take out insurance coverage as soon as you make a booking so cancellation coverage can apply. If an unexpected event forces you to cancel your trip, insurance can help you recoup your non-refundable expenses.
Should I use my credit card travel insurance for international trips?
If you have a credit card or high end debit card, you may already have travel insurance for international trips. However, make sure you understand the coverage provided and how it works prior to your departure. To work out if you’re getting the best international travel insurance from your credit card you may want to ask yourself:
- Does my card cover unlimited overseas medical? Some credit card travel insurance policies limit coverage for overseas medical to $500,000.
- Do I need comprehensive coverage? Travel insurance provided by credit cards is generally pretty basic.
- Do I need to pay for my flights to activate my cards coverage? Activating your credit card travel insurance sometimes requires you to pay for all or part of your trip using the card.
- How long am I traveling for? Most credit card travel insurance policies won’t cover long-term trip. It could be worth considering a backpacker policy if you’re planning on traveling for more than 12 months.
- Is my pre-existing condition covered? One of the gaps in most credit card travel insurance policies is the pre-existing condition coverage. If you have a medical condition, a stand alone international travel insurance policy is probably a better option.
Some important traps to watch out for
- If the purpose of your trip is for business, you may not be covered by all international policies.
- The deductible can be much higher on credit card coverage with some cards applying up to $500.
- You have pay for all or at least a portion of your trip on your card for coverage to be activated.
- You have limited flexibility to tailor your travel insurance coverage with add-ons you may need.
- Level of coverage provided is usually reduced to what is offered on standalone policies.
- Maximum period of travel is usually limited to around 90 days.
- Some cards will have restrictions on age limits for older travelers.
When you’re going overseas, you may want to consider the following:
- Read the policy. Reading the fine print of the policy to get a full understanding will help you when need to use it.
- Medical coverage. Think about how much medical coverage you’ll need before you make choice.
- Consider your risk. If you plan on parasailing, mountain climbing or zip lining, consider taking out extra coverage.
- Know what your policy excludes. Pay particularly close attention to the exclusions section of each policy. Make sure you know what’s covered.
- Know the emergency coverage. Make sure your travel insurance provides access to an emergency assistance provider.
- Compare the deductibles. Consider the deductibles you’ll have to pay when making a claim on each competing policy.
- Compare premiums. Factor in the deductibles you’ll pay when there’s a claim when you’re comparing premiums.
- Do your homework. Weigh the pros and cons of different policies and read reviews from other insurance customers.
What am I covered for overseas?
Overseas travel insurance typically includes coverage for the following:
|Medical expenses||If you require medical assistance overseas, your international travel insurance policy covers costs for situations such as emergency dental treatment, ambulance transport and hospital stays. Repatriation to the US is sometimes covered|
|Additional accommodation and travel expenses||If a medical adviser certifies that you’re unfit to travel due to illness or injury, your international travel insurance may cover any additional accommodation and travel expenses|
|Hospital cash allowance||Some overseas travel insurance policies include a hospital cash allowance to help cover out-of-pocket expenses if you or your traveling partner is hospitalized|
|Family emergency||Coverage kicks in if your traveling companion or a relative dies unexpectedly, becomes disabled or falls seriously ill|
|Changing my trip||If an unexpected event such as illness or job loss forces you to cancel your trip while traveling or before you’ve left home, overseas travel insurance can reimburse you for the non-refundable trip expenses|
|Luggage and travel documents||Should your luggage or documents be lost, stolen or damaged during your travels, your policy covers the cost of repairing or replacing them|
|Delayed baggage||Airlines seem to misplace luggage on a regular basis, so if the arrival of your luggage is delayed you might be eligible for a cash allowance to help you purchase essential items like clothing and toiletries|
|Lost money and credit cards||If you lose your wallet or have money stolen, your policy will help replace your cash. Coverage is also available to help replace lost or stolen credit cards and to prevent you from becoming a victim of fraud|
|Coverage for car rental deductibles||Your policy will cover your deductibles if your rental vehicle is stolen, damaged or in an accident|
|Delayed travel||If pre-booked transportation on your journey is delayed due to circumstances outside your control, overseas travel insurance policies will pay a benefit to cover any additional accommodation expenses|
|Postponing a trip||In the event that you’re forced to go home due to sudden injury, sickness or death of a relative or business partner, your insurance plan will cover the airfare to transport you back overseas so you can resume your journey|
|Alternative transportation||If your travel is delayed, making you late to an event like a wedding, funeral or sporting event, your insurance will cover alternative transport arrangements to get you there on time|
|Out of work||If you suffer an injury while traveling that prevents you from returning to work, your policy can provide a monthly benefit payment to help cover your loss of income|
|Disability||If you suffer an injury on your trip and become permanently disabled, your insurance coverage will offer a benefit payout|
|Death||Should tragedy strike and result in your death, a benefit will be paid to your estate to help your family look after their finances while they deal with their loss|
|Personal liability||If you are legally liable to pay compensation for damage caused to someone else’s property or the injury or death of someone else, your insurance will cover the cost|
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