Imagine: You’re trekking to Machu Picchu, but miss a step, fall, and injure your ankle. Hopefully nothing like this ever happens, but when you’re abroad, having the best (and cheapest) travel insurance can be a game-changer.
Do I need travel insurance?
In short: most likely! While you’re abroad, your U.S. health insurance might not cover you to the extent you need it to, or perhaps not at all. That’s where some good, affordable international travel insurance comes in! But before we go over some quality and low cost travel insurance options, here are some reasons you might need it and questions to ask.
- Does my U.S. insurance plan cover me abroad? If so, what does it cover? Do you need pre-authorization to be treated or be admitted to a hospital abroad? Before you go abroad, call your health insurance provider to find out exactly what international incidents they would cover, how much coverage, what it does not cover (adventure sports, natural disasters, terrorist attacks), and if pre-authorization is needed for any treatment.
- Will I be participating in adventure sports or activities? Scuba diving, rock climbing, hang gliding, etc. are often not covered in many basic travel insurance policies. If your US insurance covers you abroad, they may not cover these incidents. Find out. If you’re planning on doing anything considered active or adventure sports-related, make sure your health insurance plan includes coverage for these activities.
- Will I be traveling in remote areas or places with limited medical services? If you’re planning a 10-day trek through a rural area, and the nearest major city is a plane ride or a few days’ backpacking trip away, think about this. If you will be in areas with limited access to medical facilities, look into a health insurance plan that includes a higher amount of medical evacuation coverage. Around $500,000 or above should be sufficient for remote areas, but some plans go up to $1 million. This is the plan that will cover expenses for transporting you from where you are to a hospital that can adequately provide for you, and if need be, get you back to your home country for treatment.
- And if it’s low cost travel insurance that you’re after, check what’s included!
Also keep these details in mind when on the hunt for the best and cheapest travel insurance:
- Alcohol, drugs, etc. Many plans won’t cover accidents or injury if you were taking drugs or drinking alcohol at the time of the incident, or if you weren’t wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike or motorcycle. Read the policies carefully.
- Carry the insurance contact information. Print out your policy, carry copies in your carry-on and with you on day trips, and know the number to call to receive pre-authorization for treatment, if needed. If possible, look up English-speaking hospitals in your area, and find out where the nearest hospitals in-network for your plan are located.
- Keep all receipts from everything. Whether you’re prescribed medicine, admitted to a clinic, or pay for anything for medical treatment up front, keep the receipts. You can then submit them to your travel insurance company as a claim.
- Deductibles and plan cost — what is right for me? A deductible is the amount you are responsible to pay out of your own pocket before the insurance plan kicks in and begins helping pay for your costs. For example, if a plan deductible is $1,000, it means you would pay out-of-pocket for all medical treatment up to $1,000. After $1,000, your plan starts sharing costs.
Know your out-of-pocket costs for the best, affordable travel insurance
Usually, plans with higher deductibles will be cheaper, and more expensive plans will have a lower, or even $0 deductible. When you’re deciding what low cost travel insurance is right for you, look at what the plan covers and always know your anticipated trip and medical needs. You don’t want to opt for the lowest cost travel insurance only to find out it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions or wouldn’t cover you for the adventure activities you plan to do!
If you really want a cheap plan, ask yourself if you wouldn’t mind paying up-front for some medical costs until you reach the plans deductible. You may find you wouldn’t mind paying more for a plan if it means a lower or non-existent deductible, meaning the plan would immediately begin sharing medical costs, should a big emergency happen abroad.
3 options for affordable travel insurance
While “inexpensive” is certainly relative, we chose the best and cheapest travel insurance plans below because they also offer flexible options and quality coverage. (Quality coverage meaning the plan is best suited for your trip and your needs, while you also get the most bang for your buck.)
Look for plans that offer sufficient emergency medical coverage (at least $50,000 is a good start) and medical evacuation coverage of at least $100,000. However, if you’re traveling in a more remote area, you may consider higher coverage. Some plans reach up to $250,000 and more for emergency evacuation coverage.
Finally, be sure to review each of the health insurance providers’ plans carefully to get full information and details on coverage and exclusions, since information and prices can change from the date this blog was published.
When calculating the one month quotes for the plans below, we selected a sample participant as 27-year-old from California, USA, traveling to Peru. Quotes can vary based on age, duration of trip, and the country you’re traveling to, so be sure to use the quote calculator on each provider’s website to know your personal quote.
1. Tokio Marine’s Atlas Travel
This is a great, inexpensive travel insurance that allows for a lot of customization, meaning you can choose different plans of varying coverage amounts and deductibles. Their Atlas Travel insurance starts at $50,000 in emergency medical care, with options increasing all the up to $2 million in coverage.
The coverage also includes some awesome medical evacuation coverage: $1 million lifetime maximum. Finally, you can choose coverage that includes the U.S. and abroad, if you’ll be spending time in the U.S. during any part of your adventure.
Now let’s talk about costs. A 4-week trip with $100,000 in emergency medical coverage and a $0 deductible will cost you about $37 for 4 weeks of coverage. Remember, the deductible is the amount you must pay by yourself before your plan will start helping you cover costs.
Atlas Travel is great because you can customize your deductible. If you choose the same plan of $100,000 in emergency medical coverage but with a higher deductible of $1,000, the plan is cheaper: $23 total. You can mix and match deductibles and coverage amounts to find the best option to suit your comfort, trip needs, and budget. Sounds like some of the best and cheapest travel insurance to us! —Get a quote
2. World Nomads
This is a very popular insurance for backpackers, adventure enthusiasts, and long-term travelers, since the plans cover over 200 sport and adventure activities. You can choose from a “Standard” or “Explorer” plan. Both plans cover up to $100,000 for emergency medical services and $750 for emergency dental treatment.
The Explorer plan offers higher coverage amounts for some areas, like $500,000 for emergency evacuation and repatriation, whereas the Standard plans offers $300,000. As a great perk, both plans offer $25,000 in coverage in the event of a non-medical emergency evacuation, like if there was civil unrest or natural disaster that expels you from the country.
Finally, the coverage for adventure sports also varies between the Standard and Explorer plans, with Standard plans covering activities like leisure horseback riding and Explorer covering more adventure sports like ice climbing or paragliding.
Many people like World Nomads because the website interface is easy to use, and they provide 24/7 assistance, should you need to call them for advice about claims or any questions about coverage. As for costs, for one month in Peru, the Standard plan is $137 and the Explorer plan is $240. —Get a quote
3. Allianz Global Assistance
Allianz offers an array of plans that cater to both leisure and business travelers. This plan is also great for frequent jetsetters, since their annual policy will protect all of your trips within that year. They also offer coverage options for pre-existing conditions.
Be sure to review the policy carefully to be sure any of your pre-existing conditions meet the coverage requirements, and to ensure you’re in line with the policy rules.
Now, let’s talk costs. For up to $50,000 in medical emergency coverage, the “One Trip Premier” plan costs $138. The annual plan will cost $500, which includes $50,000 in emergency medical coverage. —Get a quote
Help cover your travel insurance costs with FMT
If the costs of all of this has you cringing, you can try and fundraise all or part of the money you need for the best affordable travel insurance. There are so many easy and creative ways to fundraise! Set up a FundMyTravel fundraiser page to share your awesome travel plans and raise money for your trip.
Online fundraisers make it easy to share your link with family and friends. Ask for donations towards your trip in lieu of a holiday, birthday, or graduation gift, and get creative with fundraising! With a compelling story and great promotion, many people fund all or part of their overseas experiences, whether it’s volunteering, teaching, or taking a gap year abroad.
Find the lowest cost travel insurance today!
While scouring the internet for the best affordable travel insurance might seem like a mundane trip detail or something you don’t think you’ll need, it’s worth it. Quality, low cost travel insurance isn’t hard to find, and with a little planning, you can find a plan that will not only give you peace of mind, but the needed coverage for any major or minor emergency.
That way, you can be off trekking through Chile, scuba diving in Mexico, or backpacking through Thailand knowing you have the support you need!