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Published: Mar 26, 2024 14 min read

Unexpected events can disrupt even the most meticulously planned business trip. From medical emergencies to trip cancellations, these hiccups can be stressful and costly.

This is where business travel insurance comes in. It acts as a safety net, safeguarding you against a variety of unforeseen expenses:

  • Medical emergencies: This includes coverage for unexpected medical bills and treatment costs incurred during your trip.
  • Trip cancellations and delays: This coverage provides reimbursement for non-refundable trip expenses if your journey is canceled or delayed due to covered reasons like illness or bad weather.
  • Lost or delayed luggage: This covers the cost of replacing essential items if your luggage goes missing or arrives late.
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation: Coverage for transport back home in case of a medical emergency.

Many business travel insurance plans go beyond the essentials, offering additional benefits:

  • 24/7 Assistance: Access to customer service representatives who can help with travel arrangements, finding medical care, or language translation.
  • Business Equipment Coverage: Upgrade your policy to include coverage for laptops, tablets, and other business essentials in case of loss, theft, or damage.
  • Rental Vehicle Coverage: Add coverage for rental cars used during your business trip.

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How does business travel insurance work?

Business travel insurance affords many of the same protections as personal travel insurance.

Most travel insurance policies reimburse travelers — up to the plan's limits — if their insured trip is canceled, postponed or delayed due to a covered reason or if they incur emergency medical expenses. They also generally cover lost or delayed luggage and medical evacuation and repatriation.

Additionally, most insurers provide 24/7 customer service and assistance with things like making travel arrangements, finding medical care facilities and obtaining language support.

While coverage options and details vary by insurer, some of the best travel insurance companies let you customize their standard policies by adding coverage for business property and rental vehicles — for an additional cost.

Research the specific types of coverage offered by each company you're considering before purchasing a plan. It may also be helpful to review our guide on what travel insurance covers.

What does business travel accident insurance cover?

Business travel accident (BTA) insurance can cover different things, depending on the company and policy you select. There is no standard definition for terms like business travel insurance and business travel accident insurance. Companies market various policies under names like these, but policy names don't guarantee specific types of coverage.

That said, BTA policies may cover:

  • Medical expenses stemming from an accident
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation
  • Emergency travel assistance
  • Accidental death and dismemberment
  • 24/7 travel assistance

Depending on the insurer, coverage may also extend to personal trips tied to business ones.

Types of coverages in a business travel insurance policy

Again, while coverage options vary by insurer, you can generally find travel insurance plans that bundle the following types of coverage.

Trip cancellation and interruption

When you take a trip, you typically pay for things like your flight, accommodations and activities before you leave. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance reimburses you for those pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs if you cannot travel due to a covered reason.

Your policy will list covered reasons for canceling or interrupting your trip in the description of coverage. However, some common covered reasons include:

  • Illness or injury: You, your travel companion or a family member not traveling with you becoming ill or getting injured
  • Death: The death of a family member or traveling companion
  • Inclement weather: A natural disaster or severe weather at your destination
  • Job loss: You or your traveling companion losing their job or getting laid off

To cancel your trip for reasons other than those listed as covered under your policy, you must purchase cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage. As the name suggests, CFAR travel insurance will reimburse you a percentage of your total trip cost (typically 50% to 75%) if you cancel for any reason at all.

CFAR is generally sold as an upgrade, so it costs extra. And to qualify you must insure the entire cost of your trip and purchase coverage within a certain timeframe, among other potential requirements.

Medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation

Most travel insurance policies cover unforeseen medical emergencies and illnesses. So, if you sprain an ankle or get food poisoning during your business trip, your policy should reimburse you for a portion of the medical expenses you incur. This generally extends to dental emergencies and even emergency medical evacuation to the nearest medical facility and/or your home after you're discharged.

However, it's important to note that most plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Some insurance companies offer a waiver of their pre-existing conditions exclusion, provided you meet certain requirements. These generally include purchasing coverage soon after booking, insuring the full cost of your trip and being medically fit to travel.

Similarly, doctor visits for routine checkups or prescription refills aren't covered under travel insurance. But if you're a U.S. citizen traveling domestically, these and other expenses are likely covered under your health insurance policy.

Travel delays and missed connections

Your business travels could be interrupted by a missed connecting flight or unforeseen arrival or departure delays. In either scenario, you may be faced with unexpected costs such as last-minute hotel bookings or additional transportation expenses to reach your destination.

Most travel policies reimburse you (up to a maximum) for expenses stemming from delays in your travel plans. However, policies generally require a certain number of hours to have passed — three hours or more, for example — before this coverage takes effect.

Baggage loss and delay

If you're traveling with luggage, there's always a chance the airline could lose it or send it to the wrong location. If that happens, you may need to purchase new clothes and supplies.

Baggage loss and delay coverage can reimburse you for some of these expenses. However, just as with travel delay coverage, most plans require a certain number of hours to have passed before coverage takes effect.

Business equipment coverage

Companies selling business travel insurance offer optional coverage for business equipment such as laptops, tablets and cameras. If the equipment is lost or damaged by your airline carrier or is stolen during your trip, the policy can cover the cost of repairing or replacing the item — up to your policy limits.

Some insurers also cover part of the cost of repairing or replacing rental equipment that your airline carrier loses, damages or fails to deliver on time.

Conditions may apply with either of these options, so the insurer may require you to report the loss within a certain timeframe or take necessary precautions to avoid a loss. Additionally, the company may exclude certain items from coverage, including passports and other documents.

Rental car damage

Rental car damage coverage is an optional add-on you can purchase along with many base travel insurance policies. This coverage option can reimburse you up to the policy's coverage limit if your rental car is damaged or stolen during the scheduled rental period.

As with other business travel insurance options, exclusions and conditions may apply. For example, for damages to be covered, the driver at the time of the accident must generally be the same person listed in the rental car agreement.

Note, however, that not all rental car companies accept rental car damage as a suitable form of coverage. Always check with the car rental agency before purchasing this rider.

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Who needs business travel insurance?

If you frequently travel for work, business travel insurance can help you cover a portion of the expenses you may incur in the event of a medical emergency, travel delay, cancellation or other covered loss.

This type of policy can benefit those who don't have business travel coverage through their employer or are self-employed and often travel overseas carrying valuable business equipment. Even if your employer provides travel insurance, you may still want to purchase individual policy to supplement any gaps in their coverage.

How to get business travel insurance

If you think business travel insurance may be right for you, following these steps can help you get the right travel insurance policy and coverage amount.

1. Determine the type and level of coverage you need

Your first step should be to determine the amount of coverage you need for your upcoming trip. To do that, consider whether you already have coverage through a credit card or other form of insurance.

For instance, some of the best business credit cards provide travel insurance and protection if you use the card to book your plane ticket, hotel room or rental vehicle. Depending on your needs and whether your credit card provides primary or secondary coverage, you may not need additional insurance.

Similarly, if you're traveling domestically, your health insurance policy likely covers medical emergencies that happen across state lines. And your homeowners or renters insurance should cover personal property stored in your vehicle.

If you're traveling internationally and don't have other forms of coverage, consider the risks you're likely to face during your business trip. For example, if you're traveling with valuable gear, opting for a policy with a high coverage limit for business equipment can protect your pocket and give you peace of mind.

Lastly, if you're a frequent business traveler, an annual travel insurance plan may be more cost-effective than purchasing separate single-trip plans. Annual plans generally cover all eligible trips you take within the coverage period, as long as each one doesn't exceed the maximum trip duration outlined by the plan.

2. Compare travel insurance plans from reputable providers

Once you have a good idea of the type and level of coverage you need, start comparing plans from multiple companies. Remember that while some insurers sell dedicated business travel policies, others provide comparable coverage through their standard travel insurance plans.

Regardless of marketing terms, compare policies based on the following:

  • Coverage exclusions
  • Coverage limits and maximum benefit amounts
  • Deductibles you may need to pay before your coverage activates

You may also want to check out travel insurance reviews to get a better sense of a company's overall offer.

4. Get quotes from multiple travel insurers

To find the coverage you need at the best price, compare travel insurance quotes from multiple companies. Most travel insurers feature quote tools on their websites that can provide accurate price estimates in minutes. All you need to do is input basic personal information and travel details such as:

  • Your age and location
  • Your travel destination
  • The total cost of your trip
  • The coverage tier and optional add-ons you want

5. Purchase the policy that best suits your needs and budget

The last step in the process is to compare the insurance offers you've gathered and choose the one that best aligns with your requirements. While it may be clear which company offers the most extensive coverage for a reasonable price, you should also be mindful of deductibles and exclusions that could increase your out-of-pocket costs should you need to file a claim.

Is business travel insurance worth it?

The cost of travel insurance can range from 4% to 12% of your total trip cost. That may or may not be a figure you believe is worth paying. The decision comes down to the risks you're likely to face during your travels and the level of financial responsibility you're willing to assume in the event of a medical emergency, loss, delay or cancellation.

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Summary of Money's what is business travel insurance

Business travel insurance can provide financial protection for your next business trip by reimbursing you for a portion of the expenses you might incur if you had a medical emergency, travel delay or other covered loss.

While some companies market business insurance as a separate product, these policies generally offer many of the same coverage options as other travel insurance policies. However, some insurers also extend coverage to business equipment and business equipment rentals.

As with any other form of insurance, read your policy details carefully to understand exactly what your plan covers and to what extent.

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