3 Best & Cheapest Travel Insurances + 2 Free Options

Helicopter Rescue

Why should you have travel insurance during your trips?

Good travel insurance is really important, especially if you travel like I do and do activities where the chance of getting hurt are high and the medical expenses they might cause are enormous. During my trips, I’m always hiking on mountains, climbing things, jumping here, throwing myself over there, swimming where I shouldn’t, diving ….basically doing everything that I consider part of a perfect trip!!

Imagine if you’re snowboarding in Switzerland without travel insurance, get hurt in the middle of the mountain, and have to be evacuated by helicopter. The medical bill you will receive, while still in the hospital bed, is going to be so big that you will have to stay longer at the hospital to treat the cardiac arrest you’ll get after looking at all those zeros.

I’ve lost count of how many backpackers I met during my trips who had a giant scars on their legs… it is the famous Thai Tattoo!! Basically, this happens when someone was drunk while riding a motorcycle in Thailand and ended up falling or burning himself on the exhaust pipe. Do you really want to go to a public hospital in the middle of Bangkok?!?! With travel insurance, you can go to a private hospital where they will probably l take much better care of you. 

But do I really need international travel insurance? I don’t usually do any extreme activities or sports!

Death Road BoliviaYou can even say: “I’m going for a shopping trip to Miami so I don’t need travel insurance.” Remember that there is always the risk of being run over by a car, something falling on you head, or just getting sick during your trip. Using the American health system (and many others) without personal health insurance is often asking for personal bankruptcy alongside other things that can happen in any trip like loss of luggage, cancelled flights, etc…

Moreover, if you are not European and have bad luck while entering Europe, the immigration officer may ask you if you have a travel insurance which is mandatory for tourists traveling to the Schengen area (the European Union plus Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland). If you don’t have it, he can legally refuse your entrance into Europe!

And remember, travel insurance is not only related to health problems. Depending on the plan you may have, it can cover lost luggage, flight delays, bad weather, and even your evacuation from a country if civil unrest breaks out. 

What are the best travel insurances on the market?

Well, this will depend mostly on where are you from and what kind of coverage you want for your trip. If you research on the internet, you should be able to find a lot of options.

However, I have already researched A LOT have compared a lot of travel insurances and I always end up with the 3 online options that follow: 


  1. The cheapest travel insurance on the market!!


HCC Medical Insurance Services (Atlas Travel)Travel Insurance


Seriously, if you can find a cheaper travel insurance than this one, which works for citizens from all over the world, please let me know. As I have not found anything cheaper, I like to use HCC Medical (Atlas Travel) when I’m traveling to a “safe” place where I’ll be visiting mostly cities, such as United States or Europe, and I know I won’t be doing anything crazy. To be honest, I’ve thankfully never had to actually use any travel insurance so I’m not sure how the compensation services work. But I searched for reviews about HCC Medical (Atlas Travel) and it looks like it worked fine for others who did have to use it. It’s really a great option if you are looking for cheap travel insurance.  

As I mentioned before, it is an international travel insurance that accepts citizens from all over the world, with a few exceptions. Since it is cheaper than others, however, it may not cover all types of extreme activities. So, if you want to buy it, just make sure it covers the activities you intend to do as well as your nationality. It’s suitable for trips of any lengths ranging from someone’s round-the-world backpacking trip to a student on a short exchange study or an annual holiday.

You can also buy travel insurance with HCC Medical if you have already started your trip. You don’t have to be at home or within your country of residence to buy this travel insurance or to extend your existing policy. 

Finally, there is NO age limit for HCC Medical!  It will rate the cost based on the age you enter. However, when you’re over age 70 and then 80, the limits of coverage decrease. In other words, you will pay more than a younger person for the same amount of coverage. With that being said, since there is no age limit unlike most other travel insurances companies, HCC Medical is an ideal travel insurance for seniors. 

And again, if you find a cheaper travel insurance than HCC Medical (Atlas Travel), please let me know!!


     2.  The well-known, mid price option


Allianz / Mondial AssistanceTravel InsuranceTravel Insurance

www.allianztravelinsurance.com (World citizen)

https://www.mondialtravel.com.br (Brazilian citizen)

This website here is a pool of different, well-known travel insurances that work together globally. Just go to their global site on the bottom right and choose which country you are from. Then, they will direct you to the appropriate website. If you are from Brazil, for example, you’ll be directed to Mondial Assistance whereas it’ll be Allianz for the United States. Once on your local site, you can get a quote. 

There is also a 15% discount coupon for Mondial Insurance for the whole year of 2016, until 12/31/2016: AFILI2016

The prices are usually very competitive, although, as with HCC Medical, they do not cover some activities. Check the policy to see if it suits you. 



    3.    The best travel insurance that exists for backpackers and adventurous travelers


WorldNomads Travel InsuranceTravel Insurance



WorldNomads travel insurance is especially made for backpackers and is still relatively cheap when you see how much more it covers than the other companies! I believe this to be the best option and it’s the one I use the most. If I’m backpacking in an area where I know I will do a lot of risky activities, such as New Zealand or Australia (snowboarding, bungee jumping, canyoning, skiing, swimming with seals, hiking, skydiving, glacier walking, etc… ), I buy insurance with WorldNomads. In my research, I’ve never found a travel insurance that offers a better deal in price vs. what they cover. To check which adventures they cover click here. Then, choose your country and the list will follow. If you know of a better option for backpackers please let me know in the comments below because I have yet to find one. 

Citizens from any country in the world can use WorldNomads.

It’s a great value for any kind of traveling; you just need to put your citizenship, if your trip includes the United States or not, your start date, and the duration of your trip. In seconds, they will give you two options of insurance with the price of each.

You can choose between a more basic insurance “Standard” (which already includes an number of “risky” activities) or the other for more extreme travelers that covers almost every activity imaginable, “Explorer”. Even if you plan to be doing some adventurous things, you might still be able to get the “basic” option. To have an idea, if you are American, the basic policy already covers skiing and even hiking up to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet)!! That’s why it’s one of the best travel insurance companies in the market!

Also, as with HCC Medical,  you can buy travel insurance with WorldNomads even after having started your trip! You don’t have to be at home or within your country of residence to buy this travel insurance or to extend your existing policy.

Once I was in Thailand,  I got sick and spent about US$ 50 in medicine. I contacted WorldNomads for a refund and they told me this value was below the deductible of US$ 100, so not worth asking for reimbursement. But they were super attentive and easy to deal with….so I recommend. 

*I’m putting the list of activities for American residents below but please check out the website for an updated version for you specific location. 

If you are going to travel for some time, travel insurance can be a big cost in your trip. So, don’t feel bad spending some time researching different companies for a better deal. If I were you, I would get a quote with the three companies mentioned above, see if they cover the activities you are going to engage in, and then choose the best option for you based on that. Like that famous commercial with the gecko, “15 minutes can save you 15% A LOT OF MONEY on car travel insurance”.


You might not even need to buy travel insurance!!


  1. Credit card travel insuranceBuy the return flight ticket with your credit card


Depending on the credit card you have, if you buy the entire round trip flight ticket with this card, it might give you a free basic travel insurance as well. Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners all have this option. You must get in contact with your card provider or check its website to see if your card has this benefit and how it works. Usually, it covers the mandatory Schengen travel assistance described above. But remember, it is an international health insurance, not a travel insurance. So, unlike travel insurance, if you have your flight canceled, lose your luggage, or have any other problem not related to health, you will not be covered. It’s also a very basic one and does not cover risk activities and most sports. Obviously, this is no good either if you are using miles to buy your ticket. And don’t forget that these insurances from credit cards usually only last for 31 days. After that, if you are still traveling, you will have to acquire a regular travel insurance. 

CORRECTION: After a comment from the reader Alex in our Portuguese version of this article, we corrected the above information. In the case of the Visa Platinum credit card, if you are issued a ticket using miles that you acquired by using the card itself and then pay the fees of the ticket with it, you will also be entitled to its travel insurance. In other words, you can get the insurance by using the card to buy a round-trip ticket or by using miles received because of the card to buy the ticket and then using the card to pay associated taxes and fees. However, I would suggest you confirm this information with your own credit card provider since the same credit cards tend to have different benefits depending on the country where they are issued. Thanks for the info, Alex!

Schengen Eligibility Coverage Letter:

For those who bought their flight ticket using a MasterCard Platinum and are going to Europe, here is the link to issue the Schengen Eligibility Coverage Letter. You may have to show the immigration authorities this letter in case they ask for proof of travel insurance coverage: http://www.aigtravelguard.net/mastercard


    2.  Use your health insurance from home


You can contact your health insurance at home and ask if they have any international insurance options. Since you are already insured with them, you can usually get a cheaper (or even free!deal. Remember to check if it covers the places you are going to as well as the sort of activities you will do.

Quick note about travel insurance for cruises:

Since someone recently asked me if any of these insurances could be used for cruise trips, I went searching for this information. And yes, both HCC and WorldNomads will cover you. 

HCC sent me an email confirming that they even cover evacuation depending on the situation, in their Atlas plan included. For Nomads, the coverage for cruises is automatic, but remember that the age limit is 66 years old! For HCC, there is no age limit!

I haven’t received any confirmation from Alliaz.

Fraud Warning! As I have mentioned before, both WorldNomads and HCC travel insurances can be purchased after you’ve already started your trip. But be careful with possible fraud! This does not mean that you can travel without travel insurance and purchase it only after you have become ill or had an accident.

Since insurance companies know that there are people who may try this trick, the companies have an anti-fraud clause where you can only use the insurance 2 days (48 hours) after purchasing the policy. In this case, if you get very sick during your trip and want to buy travel insurance for treatment, you will have to wait 48 hours until you can actually go to the doctor or hospital in order to be reimbursed for the costs. In addition, you’ll also have to prove that you became ill only after buying the insurance.

If you get hurt in an accident, you can use the insurance within those first 48 hours , but you will also have to prove that the accident occurred after you had already purchased the travel insurance. In other words, if you had a car accident traveling without travel insurance, you cannot buy the insurance, stay hurt or injured for 48 hours, and then get treatment that is covered by the insurance. You also cannot claim that the accident occurred before, as the companies are not stupid and have had plenty of people already try to do that. If they see that someone bought travel insurance and used it very soon afterwards, even if it is within the legal time limit, they will investigate the accident make the person is not cheating!

My advice: Buy travel insurance before you travel! If you forgot and are now traveling, buy as soon as possible! If you already bought it but have extended your trip and need to extend the policy (which both HCC and WorldNomads allow), do so before the current policy expires. This way, you have peace of mind knowing you’re covered for your entire trip.

What about you?? Have you ever had to use your travel insurance while traveling?? How was the experience? Were you covered properly? If you still have any questions not clarified in the text, please ask me on the comments area and I will try to help you as best as can. 

Happy travels and I really hope we will never need to actually use our travel insurance…. 

To learn about my favorite travel companies and resources that let me travel so much for such a low cost, take a look at my special page of “travel resources.”

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13 Responses

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  3. Sarah
    Sarah at |

    Hi, really neat this article, exactly what I was looking for. This HCC Insurance is really cheap! But are you sure it is a reliable company? Sometimes I’m just afraid of buying services from a place that I’ve never heard off.

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  5. Meztli
    Meztli at |


    With that HCC company, can you buy the insurance when you are already travelling?
    I’ve been looking for the info but I cannot find it anywhere, because I know that with World Nomads you can.

    Thank you!

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  7. Margaret Hoppiks
    Margaret Hoppiks at |

    Thank you. Good information. Do you know if any of these travel insurances cover cruising? I mean, I’m going to a traditional cruise, kind of Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Do you know if I have an emergency during my cruise, the travel insurance will cover the costs or even evacuation? I know cruise companies can be picky about it.

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