What is International Travel Insurance?

B. Miller
B. Miller
Woman posing
Woman posing

International travel insurance is a type of insurance that may be purchased prior to an international trip. It generally serves two purposes, but each policy may be different, so it is important to read the policy thoroughly before purchasing it. In general, international travel insurance will cover the cost of the trip if it needs to be canceled for any reason, as well as medical expenses if they are incurred while traveling. Travel insurance exists for domestic trips as well; it does not necessarily need to be international travel.

Not every international travel insurance plan will offer medical benefits, and the ones that do will often have numerous restrictions. Many people purchase this type of insurance anyway, determining that it is better than nothing when traveling, or that it can help to supplement an existing insurance plan. If an accident or illness occurs while traveling, it can be helpful to have this extra travel insurance to prevent getting sizable bills in the mail for any medical treatment. In most cases, international travel insurance is used to cover the costs of the trip if it must be canceled prior to the start of the trip; typically, this will cover cancellations up to approximately 24 hours before the trip begins.

The price of the international travel insurance will typically be a percentage based on the cost of the trip, so it will often get progressively more expensive as the trip does. Some tour companies or travel companies sell their own insurance to correspond to the trips they offer, while others may be purchased independently. In some cases, if it is necessary to cancel the trip, one will need to provide necessary documentation such as a statement from a doctor; other insurance plans will allow the trip to be canceled for any reason without needing documentation.

If the trip is canceled, the travel insurance company will typically refund a percentage or even all of the original amount paid for the trip, minus the amount that was paid for the insurance. This can include airfare, hotel reservations, or any other items that were booked as part of the trip. Even though it may be expensive to purchase international travel insurance, many people feel that it is worth it to protect the investment in the vacation, and to ensure they will be able to go on the trip at some point, even if it needs to be postponed.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I know from experience that something almost always goes wrong on a trip. It's not always going to be a big thing, but if it is you really want to have insurance to back you up. Try to get coverage that includes a 24 hour hot line and people who are willing to help you out if you get into difficulty. You don't want to be fighting for money if you're in trouble somewhere.

But, just in case, I always try to keep the number of my nearest embassy on hand as well.

I've had friends lose thousands of dollars in the airport, just through pickpockets, or lose luggage with expensive cameras, or fall sick and need to be airlifted to another country in order to get the treatment they need.

It's always best to be prepared. That way you don't have to worry and you can just enjoy your trip.


@browncoat - I think it's especially important for people who are used to having the government pay for or subsidize their medical care at home to remember that isn't going to happen anywhere else. Travel medical insurance is really important.

I had a housemate from the UK recently who became sick and decided to go to the doctor. She had a throat infection or something.

She was absolutely horrified when the bill was in the hundreds of dollars. She said at home she wouldn't pay more than about 20 or so for a single visit. I said she would be even more shocked if it turned out she had something serious wrong with her and needed real treatments.

You just don't realize how much it all costs if you don't have to pay with insurance every time you get sick.


There are some really good travel insurance packages available, but you might need to look around. In my experience they can be quite competitive, particularly if you aren't traveling anywhere very exotic, and aren't planning on doing anything that's very dangerous.

But, I think that the one thing you should really make sure of is that they have unlimited medical insurance. Really, that's the main thing to me. After all, a canceled flight is only going to cost you a couple of grand, which is quite a lot, I'll admit.

A broken leg can cost tens of thousands if you get it in the wrong place. And if you get it in a very wrong place it could cost even more to be airlifted to the hospital.

Really, I just can't imagine going on a trip without getting the best medical insurance possible.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Woman posing
      Woman posing