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Cheap Travel Insurance

A young man walks, looking at his phone and smiling at the cheap travel insurance guide he's reading on Mozo. A plane flies overhead.

Looking for cheap travel insurance? You’re not alone. 

Travelling is expensive, especially when you consider the cost of flights, accommodation, eating out, and experiences.

So, the last thing you want to do when you’re travelling is have to fork out even more of your hard-earned cash to cover the costs if something goes wrong. 

While you might be wondering if travel insurance is worth the extra up-front cost, it’s definitely worth considering what cover travel insurance actually provides.

Is cheap travel insurance for everyone?

Unfortunately, no single policy is going to be cheap for everyone – and we’ll get into why shortly. What you’re really looking for is value for money. That’s why doing your research to ensure a policy provides you with the cover you want is a great first step. 

With that being said, let’s dive into what influences the cost of travel insurance in the first place.

How travel insurance costs are calculated

All insurance premiums (the amount you pay up-front for cover) are calculated by providers based on how risky it will be for them to insure you.

So, when it comes to getting a travel insurance quote, insurance providers will ask you a series of questions that gives them an idea of who you are and what your needs may be. 

Generally, this covers things like travelling with pre-existing medical conditions, what sorts of activities you’ll be participating in that may increase your risk (like snow sports and cruise cover), as well as factors like age, the countries you’re going to, and how expensive the personal belongings are that you’re taking. 

Basically, the more likely you are to make a claim, the higher the insurance premium is likely to be. That’s why cheap insurance can be hard to come by.

What makes travel insurance cheap?

Illustrations of the factors that influence the cost of travel insurance, including age, health, activities, duration, destinations, level of cover, and excess.

The sorts of factors which can influence the price of your travel insurance premium are usually centred around who you are, what you’re doing on your trip, and what benefits are included with the travel insurance policy. These can include:

  • Your age (and any ages of dependents you’re travelling with) 
  • Your health (including pre-existing medical conditions
  • The kinds of activities you’re participating in (like skiing, cruises, or adventure activities)
  • How long you’re travelling for 
  • Where you’re travelling
  • The level of cover you’re choosing (e.g. medical-only, standard, or comprehensive)
  • How much excess you elect to pay.

Note, not all travel insurance providers use the same criteria. Some may only consider your age and how much your trip costs, while others are more in-depth.

What is the cheapest travel insurance?

A digital illustration of a wallet full of coins

Cheap travel insurance is likely to be the bare-minimum cover you can get. Often called ‘basic’, ‘essentials’, or ‘medical-only’, the cheapest travel insurance likely won’t cover you for things like delayed flight expenses, lost baggage, or injuries resulting from higher risk sports and activities, which some of the more expensive policies might do.

The cheaper end of travel insurance is usually preferred by those who are travelling light and on a budget – like backpackers and students. These policies will generally cover your health and medical emergencies, with little-to-no cover for your belongings or cancellations.

What isn’t covered with cheap travel insurance?

As we’ve mentioned, cheap travel insurance is likely to be a more basic policy option, without the bells and whistles of the more comprehensive ones. In many cases, cheap travel insurance will NOT cover (or only cover to a limited extent):

  • Cancellation cover 
  • Travel delays 
  • Family emergencies
  • Alternate transport expenses
  • Lost, stolen, or delayed luggage 
  • Adventure activities.

Cheap travel insurance will usually only cover the basics, like emergency medical. 

The inclusions in a travel insurance policy will change, however, depending on the provider. That’s why it’s always important to check the product disclosure statement (PDS) for your policy before buying it, to check what the policy exclusions might be.

Is cheap travel insurance the best for me?

A girl checks her phone

Unfortunately there’s no easy answer for everyone. It all depends on your circumstances, what you’ll need cover for, and what you will be doing on your travels. It’s important that you do your own research on this before you make your choice. 

You have to ask yourself, ‘is it worth paying for cheaper travel insurance if I’m not getting the coverage I might want from a more comprehensive policy?’

How much travel insurance do you need?

For example, if you’re travelling light, without expensive personal belongings like cameras and laptops, then you might not be so worried about your bags being stolen or lost. In that sense, the risk may be more worthwhile to save yourself some money.

As with all insurance, you’re essentially protecting yourself from the unpredictable moments that happen with life. So, whether a cheap travel insurance policy is good for you is up to your own discretion.

While it’s near impossible to predict if something is going to go wrong on your trip, if you can find travel insurance that is both affordable and provides the coverage that suits you, it could save you from stressing out about a myriad of things while you’re just trying to relax by the beach, or sightsee.

How to lower the cost of my travel insurance

One of the main ways to lower the cost of your travel insurance is to opt to pay a higher excess. In doing so, your initial premium may be reduced, meaning that you have attained coverage at a cheaper price. But the downside to doing this is that you may have to pay even more if you actually do need to make a claim.

Some insurance providers may also offer discounts if you purchase a policy online, so look out for deals like that.

Who has the cheapest travel insurance?

As the premium you pay for travel insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair, as it will usually be based on the insurance provider’s risk assessment, it’s hard to say who offers the cheapest travel insurance policy. All we can really say is that the lower the chance is of you needing to make a claim, the lower your premium may be.

Have a look at our comparison tables for international travel insurance below the FAQs to get an idea of the sorts of policies on offer.

When is the cheapest time to buy travel insurance?

The cost of travel insurance will be the same whether you purchase your policy one day before or two months before you actually take off. That’s because you’re only paying for the days you’ll be on holiday. But that doesn’t mean you should leave it to the last minute. If you have cancellation cover included with your policy, then that benefit technically starts from the day you purchase your policy – but that’s a helpful bonus in case you get ill and need to cancel your trip. 

What this means is that it’s a good idea to purchase your travel insurance policy as soon as you make any big financial commitments, like flights and accommodation, so that your cancellation cover can kick in and potentially save you thousands of dollars if you can’t go on your holiday for whatever reason.

Why is some travel insurance cheaper than others?

Some travel insurance will be cheaper than others depending on a few factors. These can include what cover level is on offer, which insurance benefits are included or optional, how large an insurance provider is (economy of scale), and can also change in price depending on their risk-profile criteria.

Is cheap travel insurance still good?

Some people consider ‘cheap’ to be a dirty word when looking at certain products, but in reality it really just comes down to whether a policy provides the scope of cover you think you’ll need for your trip, and whether or not the travel insurance is affordable for you.

What if I can’t afford travel insurance?

A popular saying is that if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. This is because the cost of covering yourself (especially while overseas) can far outweigh an insurance premium and any excess fees. 

For example, if you get emergency medical attention in the USA, then you might be stuck with a super-sized hospital bill. Without an insurance provider to help you cover the costs, you might be liable for a payment ten times as expensive as travel insurance. 

There are also countries which you won’t be able to enter without an adequate level of travel insurance. What defines ‘adequate’ is different from country to country, so make sure you read a destination’s entry requirements on Smartraveller before you commit to big expenses like flights and accommodation. 

Some of the countries which require a travel insurance policy to enter include Thailand, Cuba, Antarctica, Schengen countries (26 select European countries), UAE, and the USA.

Will pre-existing medical conditions make my travel insurance more expensive?

In some cases, having a pre-existing medical condition that is not automatically covered under a travel insurance policy could make your premium more expensive. It’s part of the provider’s risk assessment process that tries to work out how likely you are to file a claim. It’s hard to say for sure, but keep this in mind when you’re going for a quote. 

There are many policies which automatically include travel insurance cover for a range of pre-existing conditions. However, this isn’t always the case, and you should always let the provider know about any medical conditions, so that they’re aware of them. 

Plus, it’s important to check out the eligibility requirements for coverage as sometimes there are terms and conditions which could hinder any claims you need to make related to them.

Does my age affect the cost of travel insurance?

Age does affect your travel insurance. In fact, some providers have age limits which might deny your request for insurance after a certain age. 

But there are some options for seniors travel insurance out there, which those who are older may find suits their needs and travel-style more closely than catch-all, generic policies.

If you're looking for a travel insurance policy at the moment, start here with Mozo's travel insurance comparison table. 

Compare travel insurance - last updated 16 April 2024

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Jack Dona
Jack Dona
RG146
Money writer

Jack is RG146 Generic Knowledge certified, with a Bachelor of Communications in Creative Writing from UTS, and uses his creative flair to cut through the financial jargon and make home loans, insurance and banking interesting. His reader-first approach to creating content and his passion for financial literacy means he always looks for innovative ways to explain personal finance. Jack's research and explanations have been featured in government publications, and his work is regularly featured alongside major publications in Google's Top Stories for Insurance.

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