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The 6 Best Sites for Buying Travel Insurance Online

Travel insurance sales are up these days, and you likely already know the reason is the global pandemic. But you might not know the best way buy travel insurance is through one of a handful of independent agencies.

Although their websites aren’t identical, but they’re all similar in that they provide two major functionalities you definitely want when you buy travel insurance: (1) The ability to select exactly what kinds of coverage you want and the amount of each coverage, and (2) the ability compare policies from all the major insurers side-by-side to select the best policy option for your particular needs at the best price.

Over the years, SmarterTravel has listed several such agencies (check out our Ultimate Guide to Travel Insurance), and no single site stands out as superior to the others—it will depend what type of coverage you’re looking for.

Where to Buy Travel Insurance Online

Here are the best websites for comparing and buying travel insurance, in alphabetical order:

Buying from an independent agency has several advantages. A policy you can tailor, using some easy online tools, beats a one-size-fits-all policy that your airline or OTA is likely to offer you. And although a minor risk these days, a policy you buy from a hotel, tour company, or cruise line will not cover bankruptcy or default of that company.

You also don’t want a cancellation “waiver” that many tour companies and other suppliers offer. It’s not really insurance; it usually covers a lot fewer contingencies than real travel insurance, and it generally offers no medical coverage at all. In addition, waivers typically don’t pay cash refunds, they pay in future travel credit with the same supplier, often with a short time limit for re-use.

Airline, cruiseline, and OTA policies are generally not age-rated, but third-party policy rates are, and they start to go up rapidly at the 75-80 year range. Travelers in or above that range might find that an airline or OTA policy or a cancellation waiver, even though with inferior coverage, is the only affordable option.

Beyond those questions, be sure to check out SmarterTravel’s Ultimate Guide to Travel Insurance before you start shopping for any travel insurance. Pay particular attention to how to avoid problems with pre-existing medical conditions and the contingencies that most insurance does not cover. Given that most policies do not specify “fear of an epidemic” as a covered reason, take a good look at “cancel for any reason” options.

More from SmarterTravel:

Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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