Do I Need International Travel Insurance?
Before traveling to your New England destination, you should seriously consider purchasing travel insurance. While it’s not difficult to find world-class health care resources in the United States, a trip to a specialist–even if you do have insurance–can cost thousands of dollars.
If you are an international visitor and traveling with a tourist visa, you are not legally required to have travel insurance. However, those who enter the US with J1, F1 and H1 visas are required to have US health insurance coverage. You can find some helpful information about international health insurance on the insuranceqna site. Purchasing a supplemental policy such as travel health insurance may be a good option if you’ll be engaged in semi-dangerous activities during your trip (skiing, bicycling, etc.) and prefer to pay an up-front fee for insurance rather than risk paying a much higher medical bill after an accident. For reference, when I broke my shoulder several years ago while mountain biking in Wyoming, the medical costs were almost $10,000 even after my health insurance coverage was applied and my deductible was met.
For traveling families, we recommend the Travelex Travel Select policy as the best international travel insurance plan. The reason? If you purchase the Select policy, anyone under 18 is covered on your policy at no additional cost. Even if you have a large family–no problem. You might also want to check out the Allianz OneTrip Premier plan. We compare these plans with others below.
Some other policies, like John Hancock or IMG, assess extra fees for every person included on the policy–regardless of age. After comparing the fees assessed by most travel insurance companies, $50 per child is pretty average. In addition to the primary policy benefits, Travelex throws in several upgrades or customized options. Planning on rafting down a class 5 river or hauling down a mountain side with a downhill bike? Travelex offers an adventure sports package that fits your planned level of risk. Perhaps most impressive is the company’s “cancel for any reason” upgrade that covers 75% of your total trip costs (as long as you purchase your policy within 21 days of the initial trip deposit). I should note that this is where we also recommend using a credit card like the Chase Platinum Reserve card since it comes with a generous trip cancellation benefit and up to $2,500 medical or dental coverage.
While the Travelex offers sufficient coverage for most trips, it has some weaknesses. The Travel Select plan (which we recommend) tops out at $50,000 for medical care and $500,000 for emergency medical evacuation. In comparison, IMG covers up to $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million for emergency evacuation. The point? If you’re planning on taking a relatively high risk vacation, you may want to consider a different policy.
Comparison of International Travel Insurance Plans
|Ideal for||For people taking a risky trip|
|A.M. Best financial strength rating|
|Max trip length|
|24/7 worldwide assistance|
|Free coverage for kids under 18|
|Optional “cancel for any reason” coverage|
|Adventure sports coverage|
|Optional “pre-existing condition waiver”|
If you’re taking a relatively risk-free vacation — like beach lounging or city touring — then Travelex’s lower limits shouldn’t be an issue. More adventurous travelers will prefer a company with higher medical coverage, like IMG or John Hancock. You can also check out VisitorsCoverage for some additional options.