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Even though travel insurance can feel like an unnecessary expense when you already have so many costs to juggle for a trip, a simple plan can go a long way toward defraying unexpected costs that may arise.
At the minimum, you should always consider medical coverage in case of a health-related emergency during your trip, and trip cancellation coverage in case the airline, hotel, or other trip vendor cancels on your plans without providing alternative transport or a refund.
Here are our picks for the best affordable travel insurance plans in 2022.
Compare the best cheap travel insurance companies
Best overall: HTH Worldwide TripProtector Economy
- Three plans to choose from
- Reasonable premiums
- High medical emergency and evacuation coverage
- Baggage delay coverage not as generous as what some competitors offer
- Trip cancellation of up to $5,000 with the Economy plan and up to $50,000 with the Preferred plan
- Cancel for any reason insurance and missed connection insurance available with the Preferred plan
- Baggage delay insurance starting after 24 or 12 hours depending on the plan
For trip cancellation protection only: GoReady Trip Cancellation Plan
- Offers a CFAR upgrade add-on on certain plans
- Strong benefits for the cost
- Comprehensive insurance plans include generous coverage for baggage loss, plus protection from hurricane and other intense weather-related issues
- Relatively low medical emergency coverage limits
- Requires a deductible on medical expenses
- Does not offer rental car coverage
- Annual and multi-trip plans available
- All plans include pandemic coverage for COVID-19
- Coverage for weather-related delays, cancellations and other incidents
Best value: Nationwide Essential
- Three cruise-specific plans to choose from
- Annual travel insurance plans available
- Strong trip cancellation coverage
- Cancel for any reason coverage available
- Medical coverage is lower than what some competitors offer
- Trip cancellation coverage of up to 100% of trip costs (for cruises) or up to $30,000 (for single-trip plans)
- Cancel for any reason coverage available
Most popular: Trawick Safe Travels Explorer
- Useful for adventurous travelers headed to higher-risk destinations
- Affordable plans with varying levels of coverage
- Generous baggage loss replacement policy
- Trip delay coverage kicks in after just six hours
- Some policies allow a CFAR add-on
- Up to $1 million medical evacuation coverage limit
- Baggage and trip delay coverages don’t kick in until after the 12-hour mark
- International student policies available for temporary stints abroad
- Travel medical insurance
- Trip protection and cancellation
- International student insurance
- Visitor medical insurance (for traveling to the US)
Coverage for missed tours: Seven Corners RoundTrip Ready
- Strong emergency medical coverage
- Travel delay insurance of up to $2,000
- Annual and group travel insurance plans available
- Non-medical evacuation coverage included with some plans
- No option to insure for high-risk activities like bungee jumping
- Trip cancellation insurance of up to 100% of the trip cost
- Trip interruption insurance of up to 150% of the trip cost
- Cancel for any reason (CFAR) insurance available
Best protection for lost baggage: AXA Silver
- Generous medical evacuation coverage
- Multi-trip annual plans available
- Coverage for lost ski and golf days available
- Cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage only available for most expensive Platinum plan
- Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans available
- Trip cancellation coverage of up to 100% of the trip cost
- Trip interruption coverage of up to 150% of the trip cost
- Emergency medical coverage of up to $250,000
Good for missed travel connection coverage: Travelex Travel Basic
- Travel Select plan covers up to 364 days of travel
- Option to increase medical coverage
- Only two insurance plans to choose from
- Some competitors offer higher medical emergency coverage
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage starting at up to $10,000
- Optional CFAR insurance available with the Travel Select plan
- Trip delay insurance starting at $500 with the Travel Basic plan
- Emergency medical and dental coverage starting at $15,000
To determine the best insurance plan for travelers on a budget, we evaluated dozens of products using a hypothetical trip to Australia for a single traveler, age 26, between December 23, 2022 to January 4, 2023 with a total cost of $2,500 for flight, hotel and other incidentals. We then compiled the plans that covered the essentials at the lowest costs.
Of note: All of these plans include COVID-related medical coverage and 24-hour assistance, and pay at least 100% of your trip cost for eligible trip cancellations. None include rental car coverage.
The seven winning plans cost between $29 to $74 — significantly below the typical cost of comprehensive travel insurance, which can range between 4-8% of total travel expenses, according to the US Travel Insurance Association.
But these affordable plans also come with comparably low ceilings for various aspects of coverage such as emergency medical, trip cancellation, or delay — and do not include rental car or “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) protection. So if you think you might need these benefits, it may well be worth upgrading to a comprehensive travel insurance plan for a few more dollars, just for the peace of mind.
Convenience and flexibility
Each of the plans in this list include 24-hour assistance worldwide from reputable insurance providers. And despite being on the lower end of insurance plans, each of these options includes refunds for up to 100% of your total trip cost for eligible reasons. Each of these plans also includes medical coverage for COVID-related issues that may arise during your travels, which may come in handy as the pandemic continues to evolve worldwide.
Sufficient coverage in essential categories
The cheapest travel insurance plan will rarely cover every scenario that could go awry on your trip. However, each of these plans can at least help you get your money back in the event that your travel is canceled for an eligible reason, and most of them include financial protection if you incur emergency medical bills while traveling.
Insider’s Featured Travel Insurance Companies
How to pick the best travel insurance plan for you
The best travel insurance plan will vary from person to person, and even from trip to trip. If you’re just going to a major city for a solo week away from home, you probably won’t need the same type of coverage you’d want if you were going on a backpacking expedition in the mountains. And if you’re planning a longer trip overseas or with family members, it’s probably worth the small splurge to purchase comprehensive insurance coverage for peace of mind just in case something goes wrong.
In most cases, purchasing basic travel insurance coverage will only save you a few dollars compared to more robust plans. In either case, it’s generally a good idea to choose an insurance company that’s known for good customer service and has been well reviewed by fellow travelers. (For this roundup, we looked at traveler reviews shared through the travel agency Squaremouth.)
More about our winners
HTH Worldwide TripProtector Economy
Compared to all the other plans on this list, HTH Worldwide’s TripProtector Economy plan offers the most comprehensive coverage across major categories.
You’ll be able to relax with up to $75,000 of financial protection for eligible medical emergencies, and up to $500,000 per person for medical evacuation costs. For more everyday expenses, you can also relax with baggage loss and delay, trip interruption, cancellation and delay coverage that will help you recoup many, if not all, of your costs.
However, this plan falls short on missed connection benefits and accidental death coverage, both of which are not available under most circumstances (missed connection coverage only applies to cruises, and will only cover up to $500 per person after a three-hour delay).
GoReady Trip Cancellation Plan
The GoReady Trip Cancellation Plan GoReady Trip Cancellation Plan is exactly that: a cost-effective plan that offers protection in the event that your trip is canceled for a covered reason. The plan we priced out for our hypothetical trip cost just 1.16% of our total travel expenses — a very small amount of money to pay for the guarantee of our money back in the right circumstances.
The benefit is that this plan can supplement other coverage you already have, or give you a little bit of protection for a trip where you might not otherwise have opted for insurance altogether. On the downside, you won’t get any protection for medical emergencies, trip interruption or delays or lost bags from this plan.
Nationwide Essential is a well-rounded alternative to HTH Worldwide Trip Protector Economy. This plan offers solid protection for both travel-related snafus as well as situations that might call for emergency medical and evacuation, making it a good choice for trips where you have cause to worry about potential interruptions or delays. However, this plan does not offer protection for missed connections or accidental death.
Trawick Safe Travels Explorer
Purchased by more than 36,000 travelers since 2020, this travel insurance plan also has great reviews to boot. And no wonder: Trawick offers generous trip delay coverage of up to $2,000 per person, although hopefully you won’t need to reach that reimbursement amount because the daily limit is $150.
You’ll also be able to rely on a $200 reimbursement per person for lost baggage – one of the higher amounts amongst these affordable plans, although this amount pales in comparison to the baggage loss coverage offered through premium credit cards.
Unfortunately, this plan also does not include accidental death coverage, so you may want to consider a more comprehensive insurance plan for travel that includes higher risk factors.
Seven Corners RoundTrip Ready
The Seven Corners RoundTrip Ready plan was the highest-reviewed insurance plan on our list, although it’s actually relatively low on our priority list. The best feature of this plan is the coverage for missed connections that’s offered for cruises and tours. As with most of the other plans on this list, you’ll also be able to relax with up to 100% trip cost coverage for eligible cancellations and interruptions.
However, most of the other benefits are just average for other categories of coverage compared to competitors, and this plan offers some of the lowest medical coverage ceilings on this list.
AXA Assistance is an insurer that often shows up on “best of” lists, and the Silver plan from this company is no exception. This policy shines when it comes to some of the rarer categories of coverage on budget travel insurance, including up to $10,000 accidental death coverage, up to $500 per person for cruise-related missed connections and up to $200 of baggage loss coverage per person.
While AXA Silver was on the higher end of our price point comparison, the difference was just $12 more than Nationwide’s Essential plan, making this a good choice for travelers who think they might need the cruise-related travel protection.
Travelex Travel Basic
Travelex Travel Basic is the most expensive travel insurance plan on our comparison list, although it includes a few benefits that the other plans did not. For one, the missed connection benefit of up to $500 could be applied for any covered reason, and is not specific to cruises or tours alone. The Travelex Travel Basic also includes one of the highest ceilings for accidental death coverage (although again, the $10,000 ceiling pales in comparison to travel credit card coverage).
On the downside, the Travel Basic offers minimal medical emergency coverage at a lackluster $15,000 per person maximum, and the baggage loss coverage capped out at $500 per person, with a daily limit of $100.
Frequently asked questions
If you just want trip cancellation protection, go with the GoReady Trip Cancellation Plan. For more robust coverage that won’t break the bank, consider HTH Worldwide’s TripProtector Economy, Trawick’s Safe Travels Explorer, or Nationwide’s Essentials plan.
Is it worth it to get travel insurance?
You can’t go wrong by purchasing travel insurance these days, if just for the peace of mind. You may be able to get by with the travel insurance protections included on your credit card, or any of these affordable plans are a good start.
When shopping for travel insurance, consider the type of trip you’re planning. If you’re planning leisurely excursions in a big city, you may not need as much emergency medical coverage as you would if you’re planning a serious hiking expedition in the mountains. A good plan should include trip cancellation, some emergency medical protection, and 24-hour assistance at a minimum.