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As part of NerdWallet’s annual Best-Of Awards, we looked at different travel insurance providers and plans to help you choose the right trip coverage when you decide to embark on your next adventure.
Our 2021 winner in the travel insurance category for single and annual policies is the Explorer Plan by World Nomads. We’ve also included other top single and annual policies that came in second and third place.
Here’s what you need to know about our best picks for 2021 and why we selected them. To learn more about how we chose the winners, read our methodology here.
But first: Single vs. annual policies
Single trip insurance plans are a great option for those going on a single trip for a specific length of time (e.g., a two-week vacation) and then returning home. The price of the policy is usually determined by the cost of the trip.
Annual policies cover you for multiple trips, but there are limitations to how long you can be away from home and now many trips you can take. In addition, trip cancellation and interruption coverage is either not offered or capped at a dollar amount that can be significantly below the total cost of all the trips taken during the covered period. Annual plans are a suitable option for those who travel often and are satisfied with the amount of trip cancellation coverage for all the trips they take over the duration of the policy.
Note: Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) is a popular add-on that was not assessed when we selected the winner because this benefit is not available in every state. When searching for a policy, you’ll need to input your trip information along with your state of residence to see if the benefit is available for your trip.
» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance
Winner: World Nomads, Explorer Plan (single and annual trip)
World Nomads’ Explorer Plan won due to its superior adventure sports coverage; high limits for trip delay, baggage delay, and personal effects coverage; the ability to purchase additional coverage mid-trip; a money back guarantee; and $35,000 in rental car damage coverage. The Explorer Plan also offers up to $10,000 in trip cancellation and interruption benefits, regardless of the cost of your trip. World Nomads allows your individual trips to be up to 180 days in length, which is the highest allowable trip length out of all the plans surveyed.
This plan is best suited for those who are going on trips that cost under $10,000 and who may want to partake in adventurous activities such as hot air ballooning, ice climbing, parachuting or rock climbing. The Explorer Plan includes coverage for more than 300 sports and activities.
Generally, travel insurance companies do not cover sports or any activity that can be deemed risky. If you’re thinking of incorporating adventurous activities into your vacation, this plan will offer the best coverage.
In addition, if your trip is delayed for six hours or more, you will be reimbursed for eligible expenses up to $1,500 per person ($250 daily limit). Out of all the plans surveyed, this was one of the best coverage options. If your luggage or personal effects are lost or stolen, you could claim reimbursement for up to $3,000 per person. These limits were some of the highest among all the policies we reviewed.
However, if you don’t plan on participating in adventure sports or your trip will cost more than $10,000, the runner-up policies listed below allow you to receive trip cancellation that is aligned with the cost of your trip.
» Learn more: World Nomads travel insurance explained
Other single trip plans
Runner-up: AXA Assistance USA, Platinum
The Platinum plan from AXA Assistance USA excels in emergency medical coverage, medical evacuation ($1,000,000 per person), 150% trip interruption coverage, employment layoff benefits and coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The emergency medical coverage is primary — meaning that you can submit claims directly to AXA without needing to first submit to your primary medical insurance — and the limit is high at $250,000 per person.
Trip interruption reimburses for prepaid nonrefundable trip payments if a portion of the trip is missed or you need to return home early due to an illness, injury or death. Coverage of 150% for trip interruption is a meaningful benefit for those who may need to spend more than the cost of their trip to get home.
For example, if you’re in a remote location and you get sick and need to travel home mid-trip, trip interruption would reimburse you for the unused portion of your hotel costs, a last-minute flight home and other costs to get back, all of which can be quite expensive on short notice.
This is a good plan for those mainly concerned with emergency medical benefits, high trip interruption coverage and protection for pre-existing conditions.
» Learn more: Does my travel insurance cover the coronavirus?
Third place: Travelex, Travel Select
In third place is the Travel Select plan from Travelex, which allows you to upgrade specific benefits (e.g., adventure sports and emergency medical), giving you the option of cherry-picking which benefits you’d like more protection for. A plan like this can be a great choice for those looking to upgrade a specific benefit they want instead of purchasing an entire policy with higher limits for all benefits, which would usually be more expensive.
The Travel Select plan also offers great coverage for hurricanes and weather because it does not require a minimum time limit that needs to pass before benefits kick in. It also has good coverage for sports equipment loss or delay. In addition, the policy provides 150% trip interruption coverage, employment layoff protections, coverage for pre-existing conditions and missed connection coverage.
This comprehensive trip insurance plan is a solid choice for those looking to upgrade specific benefit limits and seek coverage for sports equipment loss and delay.
» Learn more: Trip cancellation insurance explained
Other annual trip plans
Runner-up: World Nomads, Standard Plan
Like the Explorer Plan, the Standard Plan from World Nomads allows trips up to 180 days. With the exception of car rental and adventure sports coverage, the Standard Plan offers all of the same benefits as the Best-Of Winner Explorer Plan, albeit at lower limits.
The Standard Plan has solid emergency medical and evacuation, trip delay, baggage and personal effects, hurricane and weather benefits along with providing coverage for more than 200 sports and activities. Trip cancellation and interruption coverage is capped at $2,500 regardless of your trip length, so you’d want to be comfortable with that limit if you choose this plan.
The Standard Plan is a good option for those taking trips up to 180 days who want a comprehensive travel insurance policy with standard sports coverage and are satisfied with the $2,500 of cancellation and interruption benefits.
» Learn more: Trip interruption insurance explained
Third place: Allianz, AllTrips Executive Plan
The AllTrips Executive Plan from Allianz is a great choice for those who carry work equipment with them because it offers business equipment and business equipment rental coverage. The plan also offers loyalty program redeposit fee coverage, trip delay, baggage delay on outward journeys and a high accidental death and dismemberment benefit. Trip cancellation and interruption benefits cover up to $5,000 per person, which is significant.
This policy is suitable for those who travel internationally for work and would like coverage for laptops or other equipment. It is also a solid option for those who do not need significant sports and activities coverage. In addition, the higher trip cancellation and interruption benefits could make this policy a better option for those who find the World Nomads Standard Plan’s coverage insufficient.
» Learn more: Allianz travel insurance: What you need to know
The bottom line
Whether you’re seeking a single or annual policy, each travel insurance option offers different strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right policy depends on your trip needs, your budget and how important various benefits are to you.
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 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card