Even the best-planned international trip can go awry, sometimes at no fault of your own. If you suddenly fall ill or become seriously injured and need medical evacuation back to North America, you can easily find yourself spending $50,000 or more, warns the U.S. Department of State. Travel insurance can help cover such costs, as well as other traveling costs that you incur abroad, such as lost luggage. With dozens of international travel insurance options on the market, educate yourself on what to look for so you can determine what plan is best for you.
Add up the travel coverage you already receive from other sources. For example, if you book your international flight and hotel with your credit card, your credit card company may automatically offer you travel insurance that covers lost baggage and canceled flights. This may reduce your need for purchasing additional international travel insurance, if any.
Pick the type of international travel insurance that you need that isn't already covered by your pre-existing plans. Common types of travel insurance that people elect to purchase include trip interruption, delay or cancellation coverage; health insurance that pays for your medical bills abroad or flies you back to the United States; baggage loss; rental car damage; and coverage for accidental death. If you're
having trouble narrowing down the list, "National Geographic Traveler" editor Christopher Elliott recommends that you only choose to insure "what you can't afford to lose."
Ask your existing insurance company about its supplemental insurance plans before consulting other third-party insurance providers. Many insurance companies provide supplemental, short-term coverage for their existing members that covers international travel. Because it's an add-on to your existing coverage, processing and registration fees may be minimal or nonexistent, thus saving you money.
Get additional quotes from other insurance providers -- aim for a minimum of three separate quotes, though the more quotes you get, the better your chances of finding a better deal. International travel insurance can commonly be found through both private insurance companies and travel agents. "Travel+Leisure" magazine recommends consulting the U.S. Travel Insurance Association for recommendations of providers who are in reputable, good standing with the association.
Review the terms and conditions of the international travel insurance plan that provided you with the lowest quote. Check that it covers any pre-existing conditions that you may have, as well as any unusual activities or trips you may be taking once you arrive at your destination. For example, if you're hiking a mountain in Tibet or doing a backcountry ski tour in the Alps, make sure the plan takes that into account.