Do I Need Travel Insurance? (2024)

Travel insurance can offer financial protection if you cancel an expensive, nonrefundable vacation for an approved reason. Travel insurance can also cover your medical bills if you experience a medical emergency while traveling. However, sometimes you can get away with not purchasing it.

“Ultimately, the decision to purchase travel insurance should be based on your individual circ*mstances, including your destination, planned activities, health condition, and financial situation,” Rajeev Shrivastava, founder and CEO of insurance marketplace VisitorsCoverage, told Investopedia via email.

Key Takeaways

  • Travel insurance typically covers a variety of situations, such as trip cancellations, travel delays, lost luggage, medical care, and emergency evacuation.
  • A travel insurance policy generally costs 4% to 10% of the cost of a trip.
  • Seriously consider buying travel insurance if you’re taking a nonrefundable trip or traveling internationally.
  • Existing coverage from homeowners, health insurance, and credit cards might mean you don’t need to buy a separate travel insurance policy, but it's still smart to look at the best travel insurance companies before your trip.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance policies typically cover these five financial and health risks:

Trip Cancellations, Interruptions, and Delays

Illness, the death of a traveler’s family member, bad weather, job loss, or a natural disaster are a few circ*mstances that might trigger reimbursem*nt of prepaid travel costs, such as plane tickets or emergency expenses. However, only reasons outlined by the insurance policy are covered, so review exclusions.

Luggage and Rental Car Damage or Loss

A travel insurance policy might cover lost, stolen, or damaged luggage, personal items, or auto rentals. In some cases, the coverage might include reimbursem*nt of purchases (such as clothing) you needed to make because you didn’t have your luggage. An auto rental damage waiver covers a rental vehicle’s damage or theft.

Travel Health Insurance

Travel insurance kicks in for medical or dental emergencies when your regular U.S. health insurance doesn’t apply. Remember that even if a country has a low-cost or free nationalized health system, you’ll pay out of pocket if you are not a citizen.

Medical Evacuation

Medical evacuation coverage reimburses you if you must be evacuated from a remote area to a hospital. For example, if you become seriously ill while trekking in the Swiss Alps, travel insurance may pay for you to be airlifted to a big-city hospital for treatment. Medical evacuation from a remote location can cost as much as $250,000. This insurance may be part of travel health insurance or a stand-alone policy.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

This type of coverage pays benefits to your survivors if you get injured or die while on a trip. Injuries are typically limited to losing an eye, hand, foot, or limb.

What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?

A standard travel insurance policy won’t cover some cancellation reasons. For example, a standard travel insurance policy won’t provide coverage if you decide to back out of a trip because you need to cut back on spending. You would need to purchase “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage. Even CFAR has its own rules, such as canceling within a specific time frame.

Other losses that traditional travel insurance may or may not cover include:

  • Costs associated with preexisting health conditions, pregnancy complications, or mental health issues
  • Injury costs after participating in higher-risk activities such as rock climbing or skydiving
  • Trip interruption, cancellation, or other losses due to health and disease outbreaks or natural disasters
  • Cancellations due to terrorism, civil unrest, or any U.S. State Department warnings

Ask the insurer about exclusions to find out which exclusions apply, or review documentation. You may be able to find travel health insurance coverage that won’t exclude your mountain-climbing injuries, for example.

Which Countries Require Travel Insurance?

Many countries don’t require travel or health insurance now that the COVID-19 pandemic is in retreat. However, future disease outbreaks can influence requirements. Check the U.S. State Department’s website and destination government sites for the most current information on health requirements and recommendations.

For example, Thailand still requires visitors to carry $10,000 in travel medical insurance if they’re coming from a country with pre-departure COVID tests. However, the United States doesn’t require pre-departure COVID testing, making the insurance unnecessary for Americans.

Some nations have blanket requirements for coverage. Cuba requires U.S. airlines leaving from the U.S. to pay for each passenger’s health insurance. Every international traveler entering Saudi Arabia receives government-supplied travel medical insurance for emergencies.

Travelers entering Qatar must purchase emergency and accident services health insurance from a Qatar-registered insurer.

In some countries, you must apply for a visa to visit, even for a few days. In Nepal, U.S. visitors applying for the required six-month visa must demonstrate proof of a six-month international health insurance policy.

When Is Travel Insurance Not Necessary?

Suppose you’re taking a short trip in your own country and have adequate health insurance. In that case, you might not need travel insurance, according to Jason Eckhoff, founder and CEO of the travel website, as told to Investopedia via email.]

In addition, if you’re taking a trip with refundable costs—such as airfare—and can cancel it without being financially penalized, then travel insurance may not be necessary.

You may not need travel insurance if your credit card offers robust benefits. Travel credit cards and other credit cards may provide the following coverages:

  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursem*nt
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation
  • Accidental death and dismemberment
  • Lost or delayed luggage reimbursem*nt
  • Auto damage waivers
  • Roadside emergency assistance

However, Jiten Puri, founder and CEO of insurance marketplace, noted that this coverage might be limited, such as providing only basic medical care or not covering trip cancellation or interruption.

How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?

Generally, travel insurance costs 4% to 10% of the total prepaid, nonrefundable expenses for your trip. If you buy travel insurance for a cruise with a $6,000 price tag, you might pay anywhere from $240 to $600 for a policy.

The cost of travel insurance varies by insurer. A recent Investopedia review of six insurers’ travel insurance plans offering trip cancellation/interruption, emergency medical/evacuation, and baggage loss/damage found the following ranges:

AgeTrip CostLow PremiumHigh Premium

Factors that affect the cost of travel insurance include:

  • Age: This is the largest factor in rates charged for travel insurance. Older travelers and travelers with preexisting medical conditions might find travel insurance costs more than it does for other travelers.
  • Coverage type and dollar amount: A policy with fewer coverage types and where your trip expenses are lower typically costs less than coverage for higher dollar amounts or extra benefits, such as CFAR insurance.
  • Trip length: The more days you travel, the more risks you might encounter.
  • Number of travelers: A trip with six people might be riskier (and cost more) than a trip with two people.

Remember that an insurer may turn you down or charge you more after reviewing your application based on the insurer’s risk standards.

When Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

David Leiter, publisher of The World Travel Guy blog, said it’s generally a good idea to buy travel insurance with appropriate coverages if you’re:

  • Taking a pricey trip with nonrefundable costs
  • Traveling internationally
  • Visiting a remote location without easy access to medical care

Eckhoff suggested considering buying travel insurance if you:

  • Have a preexisting medical condition, as long as the policy covers your needs
  • Are visiting a country threatened by political instability, natural disasters, or health risks
  • Participate in higher-risk activities, increasing the odds of becoming injured or ill

In addition to the above, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends buying supplemental travel health insurance if you’re traveling for more than six months.

The U.S. State Department suggests buying insurance before you travel and reviewing the country information page of your destination before you travel.


The CDC recommends seeking a travel health insurance policy that makes payments directly to the provider or hospital, provides 24-hour physician support, offers emergency medical transport to the U.S. or equivalent, and covers high-risk activities.

“If you’re shopping for travel insurance, make sure you get something that fits you, your destination, and your style of travel. Think of what’s most likely to go wrong in your situation, and then pick a plan that will cover it,” Leiter recommended.

Do I Need Travel Insurance if I Have Health Insurance?

Your existing health insurance may cover emergency care during international travel. However, only some health insurance plans kick in when traveling abroad. Before buying extra travel insurance, check with your health insurance company about on-the-go coverage; ask if you must seek preauthorization and which exclusions apply.

Do I Need Travel Insurance if My Credit Card Has Built-in Travel Protection?

Built-in travel protection from one of your credit cards may be all you need for your trip. For instance, if your primary goal is to obtain trip cancellation coverage, then your credit card benefits might be adequate. However, you may want to buy travel insurance if your credit card lacks sufficient medical coverage—or offers no medical coverage.

Is Travel Insurance the Same as Cancellation Insurance?

Travel insurance is not the same as cancellation insurance. However, cancellation insurance is often one component of travel insurance. So, your travel insurance policy may offer reimbursem*nt for a cancellation due to specific circ*mstances, such as a death. But travel insurance can also cover medical expenses, lost baggage, and auto rental damage.

Does Travel Insurance Protect My Possessions?

Homeowners and renters insurance can cover your possessions when you’re traveling. However, that coverage might not be enough to protect valuable items such as jewelry or may not cover the total cost for replacement. Furthermore, filing a homeowners or renters insurance claim might increase your premium.

How Can I Save Money on Travel Insurance?

Don’t go with the first travel insurance policy you come across. Instead, shop around to make sure you’re getting the most coverage at the best price. Also, if you’re booking a trip through a travel agency or tour operator, ask for a package deal, including travel insurance.

The Bottom Line

Buying travel insurance might not be necessary if you’re traveling domestically or going on a refundable trip, or if you carry adequate coverage through a credit card. “We would always recommend getting travel insurance. But if you are extremely elderly or in very poor health, your travel insurance premiums may be expensive,” Puri said.

Travel insurance generally provides “invaluable peace of mind,” Puri said. For instance, travel insurance can be a smart investment if you’re traveling internationally and purchased a high-cost, nonrefundable trip.

Do I Need Travel Insurance? (2024)


Is it a must to have travel insurance? ›

For the most part, if your destination doesn't require a VISA to enter then Travel Insurance is thought of as an extra. However, there are some parts of the world where Travel Insurance is legally required for you to enter the country, whether you are from a VISA free country or not!

Is it necessary to buy travel insurance? ›

Travel insurance makes sense if you want to protect the amount of money you've laid out for your vacation. But no one can blame you if you're hesitant to add another expense to your travel budget after paying for airfare, hotels, meals and activities.

Do people need travel insurance? ›

Travel insurance can offer financial protection if you cancel an expensive, nonrefundable vacation for an approved reason. Travel insurance can also cover your medical bills if you experience a medical emergency while traveling. However, sometimes you can get away with not purchasing it.

Is travel insurance still required? ›

On May 30, 2022, the Philippines removed their rules requiring all travelers to buy travel insurance and submit a negative Covid-19 test upon entry into the country. With the rule change, fully vaccinated travelers do not need to meet these requirements.

How much should travel insurance cost? ›

The average cost of travel insurance is about 3% to 5% of a trip's total value, according to quotes gathered by our research team across different travel insurance providers for various traveler profiles.

When should I buy travel insurance? ›

If you're wondering when you should buy travel insurance, the simple answer is as soon as possible. Ideally, you'll buy coverage no later than 15 days prior to your trip.

Does travel insurance cover trip cancellation? ›

It covers unavoidable trip cancellations due to sudden and unpredictable events, including terrorism, natural calamities, and serious injury or sudden sickness requiring minimum three days' hospitalisation of the insured person, his spouse, parent or child, who are also booked to travel with the insured person.

Do credit cards come with travel insurance? ›

While it would be ideal if all credit cards provided travel insurance benefits, this simply isn't the case. Travel rewards credit cards often offer insurance, though coverage limits and types of protections vary by card. You'll generally see the highest levels of coverage with high-annual-fee travel credit cards.

How common is travel insurance? ›

Roughly 38% of surveyed travelers purchased insurance for their trip. About 13% of overall respondents purchased cancellation insurance, and 11% purchased cancel for any reason insurance (CFAR).

Do US citizens need travel insurance for Europe? ›

Do I need travel insurance for Europe? Travel insurance isn't required when visiting Europe; however, it can cover your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs in the event of travel delays, cancellations, a medical emergency or lost baggage.

Does it matter when you get travel insurance? ›

Buying travel insurance right before your trip may be okay if you've got that great last-minute travel deal and are set to go. But if you have planned and paid for most of your trip months beforehand, you've taken a bigger risk. In that time, things can go wrong.

Is it worth adding travel insurance? ›

Travel insurance can be useful, but it's not always necessary. The key to knowing if you need travel insurance is figuring out your specific risks for any given vacation, then deciding if you can buy coverage that adequately protects you from any financial losses and pitfalls that might occur.

What travel insurance will not cover? ›

Most travel insurance policies won't pay out if you're negligent while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and have an accident or have property stolen.

What conditions are not covered by travel insurance? ›

Conditions which may not be covered

Conditions like terminal illness, the need for oxygen, pending surgery, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, specific types of cancer, congestive heart failure, and recurring pain are generally excluded from coverage.

Is insurance mandatory for US travel? ›

Answering the question, “Is travel insurance mandatory for the USA,” you must understand that while travel insurance isn't mandatory for visiting the USA, it is highly advisable. Considering the exorbitant medical costs and the likelihood of an extended trip, it's wise to prioritise your security and well-being.

What happens if a tourist gets sick in the USA without insurance? ›

Seek Emergency Care When Necessary

In life-threatening medical situations, don't hesitate to call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency room. Medical providers are required by law to stabilize patients in emergency situations regardless of their insurance status.

Do I need travel insurance if I already have insurance? ›

Even if your health plan does cover you internationally, you may want to consider buying a special medical travel policy. Much of the additional coverage available is supplemental (or "secondary"), so it covers whatever expenses your health plan doesn't, such as deductibles.

Can you buy travel insurance after booking a flight? ›

You absolutely can buy travel insurance after booking your trip. However, it's always best to purchase insurance as early in the process as possible. If you procrastinate, you may miss out on certain benefits.

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