When to Buy Annual or Multi-Trip Travel Insurance

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

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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.

How travel insurance generally works

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.

How annual travel insurance plans differ

Annual travel insurance works a little bit differently than single-trip insurance. For the most part, you won’t find annual travel insurance 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

Be sure to 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.

Deciding whether annual travel insurance is the right call

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.

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 2022, including those best for:

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