Best Travel Insurance for Americans in 2019
Let’s be honest. TraveL insurance is probably the least exciting thing to talk about and research when you’re planning your trip. But today, we’re offering a double dose of honesty by saying, it’s also probably one of the most important and we’ll tell you why from OUR OWN scary and almost bankrupting PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
As Americans, we have one of the most complex healthcare systems in the world and sadly unlike some countries, rarely will our standard health insurance plan cover us when we are in another country. Therefore, it’s important to acquire additional coverage. You do NOT want to get stuck in a foreign country with no coverage. TERRIBLE things can happen.
And it’s not just your health you need to think about. Most of us these days also travel with an expensive laptop and or camera. Take it from us, anything can happen. We were robbed of over $10,000 worth of stuff on a trip some years ago. For mere dollars there are protections and steps you can take to make sure you’re not stuck with the entire bill if your gear is stolen.
When we first started our long term travels we had a hard time finding a plan that had everything we needed. As it turns out, not all plans are equal and plans can vary greatly in what they cover. So to save you some time, we are going to breakdown what we feel are some of the best travel health insurance options for Americans traveling internationally for a short or long term trip in 2019.
BEST SHORT TERM TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE
It won’t take much looking before you hear about World Nomads. They currently dominate the international travel health insurance market. You will see them on nearly every travel blog and that’s because they offer some good packages (and to be honest, some of the best marketing), depending on what you’re looking for. Full disclosure, we have never used them personally because we don’t recommend them for Americans on an international trip that’s expected to last longer than a year.
World Nomads offer up convenient short (and long term) plans that not only cover you, but also your personal belongings up to a specified amount. They will also cover delayed and missed flights if it meets their conditions. We have heard generally positive stories about them, but we have also heard a few bad stories as well.
“As long as you are travelling at least 100 miles from your home in the US, your policy will cover you according to the policy terms and conditions.”
We have heard stories of people who suffered from a serious injury in another country, who were forced to return back to the United States for treatment. And since they were returned home, World Nomads did not cover them. Having said that, we’ve also heard many stories where things turned out fine and they received coverage and reimbursement as expected. The important thing is to just make sure you understand the terms and conditions as best you can.
To save you some time, here are a list of benefits as described by World Nomads:
7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE FROM WORLDNOMADS.COM
Trusted reliable underwriters
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
Value for money with the cover you need
WorldNomads.com provides cover for what's important for travellers from 140 countries. By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don't, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.
Cover for a range of adventure activities
From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
World Nomads keeps you travelling safely
All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
More than just great value travel insurance
All WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.
Commitment to exceptional customer service
We want to make sure you get the most from WorldNomads.com. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
BEST SHORT TERM TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE - RUNNER UP
Because we have been traveling intentionally for so long we have not needed a short term travel health insurance plan so just like World Nomads, this recommendation is based on research. These guys offer up 3 simple options that include:
Emergency travel assistance for even the smallest travel disruption.
Responsive medical management in the event of medical emergencies anywhere in the world.
International, multilingual customer service centers.
Claims specialists who process tens of thousands of claims each year from around the world.
BEST LONG TERM TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE
If you’re like us, and your trip is going to last more than a year, as an American, paying for a policy back home AND an international travel health insurance plan can add up to quite a lot. Luckily, you have some options. As of 2019 it is no longer required for Americans to have a health insurance policy so you don’t have to worry about tax penalties.
Having said that, you still are going to want a policy that will cover you in the United States for visits home or if you have a serious health issue and want to receive treatment back in home. Based on these needs we discovered the IMG Global Gold Plan. This is a policy designed for expats living abroad for more than 6 months a year.
Having used them now for nearly 3 years, we can say we think it’s one of the best options out there. It’s not perfect, but it’s saved us big time. Here is a real world example:
In the Summer of 2018 we were back in the United States visiting family and Marta developed a pain in her stomach. The pain progressed quickly so we took her to the emergency room and it turns out her appendix was about to burst. Into surgery she went and over 24 hours in the hospital and nearly $50,000 USD later, she was fine.
Enter IMG Global. On the way to the hospital I called and notified them what was going on and they pre-authorized the visit right away. This step isn’t necessary if you don’t have time, but it will insure you’re getting the most coverage and that you’re in-network. We were very nervous through the whole process if they would actually follow through or deny us for some hidden condition we weren’t aware of, but we can now say, having received all our bills, they followed through on their end reducing over $50,000 USD down to a little over $3,000 USD which was the total of our chosen deductible and emergency co-insurance payments. Without this coverage our travels would have quickly come to a halt and we would have been left in debt for years to come.
As long as you are in network, in most situations, you will be covered at 100% after your deductible. Please understand your policy because terms and conditions do apply. We had a couple bills and procedures we didn’t fully understand and those were only covered at 80%.
Our biggest complaint about our policy (as is with most travel insurance plans), is that they don’t cover pre-existing conditions or prescription medications. Also, unlike World Nomads, IMG does not cover personal belongings or trip interruptions. It is strictly a travel health insurance plan. So again, please make sure you understand your policy.
Sadly, as an American, there is no perfect option but as full time international travelers who spend 6 months or less in the United States, we have found the IMG Global Gold plan to be our best solution so far.
EQUIPMENT TRAVEL INSURANCE
There is nothing worse than having your expensive equipment stolen during a trip. A few years ago, only an hour after landing in Costa Rica we were robbed of nearly all our possessions. We had no equipment insurance and as we sat shaking in our hotel room wondering what to do, it dawned on us. We had renters insurance. We had no actual hope they would cover us but we gave State Farm a call and low and behold, as long as we had a police report and receipts or photos of our gear, they would cover all our personal possessions no matter where we were in the world!
If you rent in the United States, State Farm, All State and a few others offer renters insurance polices for as little as $5 a month that will cover your equipment. You MUST reside in the U.S. to qualify for one of these policies. If you’re a renter and do not have renters insurance, stop what you’re doing right now and start getting quotes. Not many people know, that with many companies like State Farm, having a renters insurance policy and an auto insurance policy from the same provider can give you “multi-plan” discounts that can significantly reduce the cost of your auto-insurance, essentially making your renters insurance free!
If you have expensive equipment and plan to be on the road for more than a year, these guys can be a great option. Where as World Nomads and iTravel Insured will only cover your personal property up to a few thousand dollars, and renters insurance requires a primary residence in the U.S., with TCP you can insure much more and be on the road as long as you want.
Credit card insurance
Depending on what you need covered, your credit card may offer some protection. We have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and from trip delay reimbursement, car rental coverage, to lost baggage coverage and even emergency medical and dental, if you have a good travel credit card, it’s worth seeing what they offer.
We have met many American travelers throughout the years who either chose to risk not buying travel health insurance, or didn’t even think about purchasing it before they left. Many were under false assumption that most countries around the world (especially socialized ones) will give you free health care if something happens. This is not always the case and in many countries like in South America, or South East Asia, although the out of pocket cost might be less than in the United States, will not give you free care. Mexico is a particularly dangerous place to get stuck with a serious health issue and no coverage. We have heard of foreign patients essentially held hostage and treatment is refused until enormous fees were first paid.
So again, please take this seriously. Whether you’re traveling for two weeks or two years, in the end the cost is worth the protection.
Have another insurance plan you like? Have a recommendation or a warning for any of the companies we’ve mentioned?
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Ideas presented in this article are our personal opinions and experiences regarding travel health insurance. It is up to you to research and decide what company to use and to understand what the policy will and will not cover. Any policy details we have provided are subject to change at any time by the insurance providers .