How Annual or Multi-Trip Travel Insurance Works

Multi-trip insurance can be cost-effective for frequent travelers, just make sure the coverage meets your needs.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Updated

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Are you hoping to fill your annual calendar with multiple travel adventures? When you’re heading out on a trip, travel insurance may provide peace of mind in case things go awry. It can provide protection in the event of unexpected injury and illness, no matter where you are.

For frequent travelers, sometimes a single-trip travel insurance policy just doesn’t cut it. Let’s take a look at when to buy annual travel insurance, what annual multi-trip insurance is and whether you should invest in this product.

What does annual travel insurance cover?

For those who aren’t familiar with travel insurance, it basically works like this: Your personal insurance covers you when you’re at home. Travel insurance does the same when you’re abroad.

There are different levels and kinds of insurance, including those that’ll reimburse you if you have to quarantine, ones that let you cancel for any reason and even policies that cover emergency evacuation services.

Some common types of travel insurance include:

Most travel insurance policies will offer different levels of coverage for the different types outlined above. In some cases, you can customize your coverage to better meet your needs instead of opting for base-level policy inclusions.

Single trip insurance vs. multi-trip travel insurance

Here's a high-level overview of how annual travel insurance policies differ from single trip plans.

Single trip plans

Multi- or annual trip plans

Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) optional inclusion

Yes.

No.

Trip interruption

Yes.

Optional.

Trip delay

Yes.

Optional.

Higher-limit coverage

Yes.

Optional.

Covers multiple trips

No.

Yes.

Has duration limit

Yes.

Yes.

How does annual travel insurance work?

Yearly travel insurance works a little bit differently than single-trip insurance. For the most part, you won’t find an annual travel insurance policy that covers extras such as baggage loss or rental car insurance, though you may find some that cover trip interruption and cancellation.

Why is annual travel insurance cheaper than single trip? Multi-trip insurance focuses mainly on medical policies, while single-trip policies can cover a broader range of issues.

In general, annual travel insurance will cover you in the event that you need medical care while traveling overseas. Different policies will have different coverage. Some can include hazardous sports such as skiing and scuba diving, while others will include care in the event you fall ill with COVID-19.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Check whether your medical care is primary or secondary; secondary medical insurance only pays out after other eligible insurances have made their payments.

If you’re looking to be covered for specific needs, be sure to double-check any policy before you decide to purchase it.

Annual travel insurance plans

Purchasing an annual or multi-trip travel insurance plan doesn’t have to be expensive. Of course, you’ll want to get quotes before going forward with any purchase, so it’s best to do your homework ahead of time.

We put in a search for annual travel insurance plans using a 31-year-old traveling from California to Europe among three different policy providers.

Nationwide came in at the cheapest for just $52 for the year, though at that price range it didn’t include trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.

It was possible to add these in, but it increased the price appropriately. Otherwise, the plan offered $10,000 in emergency medical, $100 for baggage delay, $100 for trip delay and $500 for lost luggage

For our sample itinerary, Allianz offered three different annual travel insurance plans with varying levels of coverage — Executive, Prime and Basic.

The cheapest rang in at $138 for the year but also failed to include trip interruption, while the most expensive option would cost this travel $510.

Allianz’s lowest-cost option (Basic) provided $20,000 in emergency medical and $1,000 for baggage loss, as well as $45,000 for rental car insurance.

AIG Travel Guard returned just one option for multi-trip travel insurance, costing $259 for the year.

However, the increased price seems worth it for the additional coverage, which included $2,500 in trip interruption, $1,500 for trip delay, $500 for missed connections, $2,500 for lost baggage, $1,000 for delayed luggage and $50,000 for emergency medical.

Is annual travel insurance worth it?

There are a few different questions you’ll want to consider before purchasing travel insurance. This is true whether you’re looking for a single-trip policy or a plan that covers you for an entire year.

How often will you travel?

This is probably the most obvious question you’ll want to answer: How often do you travel? Are you out of town frequently? Do you stay out of the country for longer periods of time?

If you’re someone who goes on one or two vacations per year, for a week or two at a time, it may not be worth purchasing annual travel insurance. Although it’s cheaper than single-trip insurance, the benefits that you’ll receive are reduced accordingly.

What kind of trips are you taking?

How expensive are your trips? What about the chance for illness or accidental injury? Are you certain that you’ll be going on your trip, or is there the chance that you’ll need to cancel?

Multi-trip travel insurance is inherently limited due to its length of coverage. If your trip has a lot of components and opportunities for things to go awry, you may want to consider instead purchasing a single-trip policy.

As we noted above, these types of policies have a much broader area of coverage. This includes options such as cancel for any reason insurance and trip delay insurance.

Do you have any pre-existing conditions?

Pre-existing conditions are those that you have had prior to purchasing insurance. Let’s say that you tore your hamstring last year. After completing a round of physical therapy, you’re doing pretty well, though sometimes you still struggle with pain.

Some annual travel insurance policies will cover acute flare-ups of pre-existing conditions. This means that if your sore hamstring is suddenly aggravated to the point of needing crutches, they will cover the cost of that care.

Some policies do not; they will have a specific clause excluding any pre-existing conditions from your medical care.

Does your credit card provide travel insurance?

Did you know that many travel credit cards provide complimentary travel insurance? If you book and pay for your trip using your card, you may be eligible for this insurance.

Examples of travel insurance offered by credit cards include:

  • Rental car insurance.

  • Emergency medical insurance.

  • Emergency evacuation insurance.

  • Trip cancellation insurance.

  • Trip delay insurance.

Not all credit card travel insurance coverages are equal; if this is something you’re relying on, you’ll want to carefully examine the policies of the credit card you’re using and the types of coverage it offers.

Cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer some of the best complimentary travel insurance on the market. Other cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, also offer a wide range of coverage while you’re traveling. Terms apply.

Caveats to yearly travel insurance

Yearly travel insurance may be a good option for you if you’re often on the road, but keep in mind that there are limits to the product.

For example, many travel insurance plans limit the amount of time you can spend on each trip. This is true for policy provider Heymondo, whose 12-month plan stipulates that your trip duration be less than 60 days.

Other plans may only apply outside the United States. This is the case for GeoBlue, whose travel medical insurance doesn’t cover you when you’re home.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Depending on the provider, you can purchase multi-trip or an annual travel insurance plan.

The biggest difference with annual travel insurance is it doesn't have as many covered benefits as the individual single-trip plans, as one of the main focuses of annual travel insurance is medical emergencies.

To determine which plan type is right for you, ask yourself questions such as:

Although cheaper, multi-trip or annual travel insurance are policies that cover multiple trips over a specific time frame. Policies have less coverage than single-trip policies. Generally, single-trip policies have baggage loss or rental car insurance, whereas annual travel insurance does not.

The average cost of a travel insurance policy varies on the coverage provided and the length of the trip. It's typically a percentage of your overall trip cost. On the high end, you can estimate up to 10% of your trip expenses. On the low-to-mid scale, you can estimate 4-8% of your anticipated trip costs.

Yes, you can buy annual or multi-trip travel insurance policies, which can be a good option for extensive trips. Note that these plans differ from single-trip policies in terms of coverage. Annual plans tend to focus on medical emergencies, whereas individual plans offer more robust travel-related coverages (such as baggage or trip delay).

Multi-trip insurance covers an unlimited number of trips during your coverage period. However, the length of time for your period is going to depend on your specific policy. Many multi-trip plans can be purchased as annual travel insurance, which will cover you up to 365 days.

It’s possible to cancel any insurance policy that you buy, but only during specific periods. This is called the "lookback" or review period. In most states, the lookback period lasts up to 15 days, during which time you can cancel your insurance without penalty.

If you're considering multi-trip travel insurance

Multi-trip travel insurance can be a cheap, affordable way to make sure you’re covered if you’re a frequent traveler. However, you’ll also want to understand the limitations of year-long policies. Although they can be less expensive than policies that cover a single trip, you can also expect to have less coverage.

Annual travel policies tend to focus more on medical care and — in limited circumstances — trip cancellation or trip interruption. However, if your needs include the ability to cancel your trip for any reason, or extras such as baggage insurance, you may want to consider purchasing a single-trip policy instead.

Finally, if you hold a travel credit card, odds are good that it comes with some form of travel insurance. Check out its guide to benefits to see what types of coverage your card offers, whether it’s emergency medical evacuation or trip delay reimbursement.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Travel Insurance from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-10x

Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

on Chase's website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
4.2
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-2x

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

30,000

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Points
See more cards
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