National Geographic Travel Insurance
National Geographic Expeditions hosts air, land, and sea travel adventures all over the world. They provide access to historical sites, knowledgeable tour guides, and local experts eager to share their expertise.
Before departing, National Geographic requires travelers have an insurance policy with at least $200,000 Medical Evacuation.
Unfortunately, National Geographic does not include travel insurance with the cost of your trip. Instead, you must find your own insurance. If you want National Geographic's plan, you must visit their insurance partner's website.
NatGeo offers only one insurance option, take-it or leave-it. USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services administers and processes claims, and Generali US Branch underwrites the plan.
National Geographic insurance is sorely deficient in several critical areas of travel insurance, particularly for senior travelers. It provides low Medical Insurance coverage, lacks a Waiver for Pre-existing Condition Coverage, and offers no Cancel For Any Reason option.
In this review, we look in detail at National Geographic travel insurance and compare it with other options available in the broader travel insurance market.
Why Get Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance protects you and your vacation investment. It is always a wise decision to purchase a policy because unexpected things happen every day. Travel Insurance allows you to enjoy your trip without all the extra worry.
Comprehensive policies provide peace of mind for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Medical Insurance, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and Baggage Loss/Damage.
In addition to these coverages, some plans include extra benefits if you purchase shortly after your initial deposit date. For example, you may qualify for Pre-existing Medical Condition, Cancel For Work Reason, and Cancel For Any Reason benefits.
Since National Geographic requires travel insurance for their expeditions, you must either buy their policy or find one on your own.
Our Trip: Japan Family Journey: From Ancient to Modern Times
National Geographic insurance costs $927.84 for both travelers.
Discouragingly, you get very little coverage for this high price. Let's see what other options you have.
We use the same trip information to create a quote at AARDY. The AARDY system provided 26 quotes for a variety of plans and insurers.
AARDY consistently recommends buying at least $100,000 Medical Insurance, $250,000 Medical Evacuation, and a Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver when traveling outside the US.
For this trip, the Trawick First Class plan is the least expensive policy that meets the recommended coverage amounts. The cost is $649.11 for both travelers. That is nearly $300 less than NatGeo.
Next, we want a quote for a Cancel For Any Reason policy. The least expensive plan with the CFAR benefit is Seven Corners RoundTrip Choice (CFAR 75%). The Seven Corners policy costs $1,027.60. That's only $100 more than NatGeo's plan, which does not have CFAR.
Given the difference in cost between NatGeo's plan and options available at AARDY, you can save a lot of money by investigating all your options.
Now, let's see how coverages compare to each other:
Price and Value
We won't beat around the bush. National Geographic's policy offers poor value for the money.
First, their price is high for the level of coverage received.
Second, the policy fails to offer a Waiver of Pre-existing Conditions. The waiver is essential for travelers, particularly seniors, to ensure their claims will be covered if related to a medical condition.
Third, National Geographic insurance provides inadequate Medical Insurance for travel outside the US.
Finally, NatGeo does not even provide an option to add Cancel For Any Reason to the policy.
We discuss these points in more detail.
Pre-existing Medical Condition Coverage
We give NatGeo's plan low marks because it fails to offer a Waiver of Pre-existing Conditions. We have seen other policies with low Medical Insurance and no Cancel For Any Reason in the past, but they usually provide a Waiver.
Typically, if you buy travel insurance within 14-21 days of your initial deposit, the plan covers any medical emergencies related to a Pre-existing Medical Condition. Travel insurance calls this benefit a Waiver of Pre-existing Conditions.
On the whole, travel insurance excludes claims for cancellation, interruption, and medical treatment if related to a Pre-existing Condition. When you buy the policy early, most plans offer a Waiver that covers those conditions. Most programs available through AARDY provide a Waiver.
National Geographic trip insurance does not cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions in the 90 days immediately before buying insurance that received:
- Medical treatment
- Medical testing
- New medication
- Medication change
- Doctor recommendation for treatment or test that has not yet occurred
So, if any of these things occurred in the past 90 days before you got the NatGeo insurance, the policy excludes them entirely. That is why we rated National Geographic's trip insurance low on Coverage Options.
For senior travelers, AARDY always recommends buying a policy that includes a Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Waiver to close massive coverage gaps.
By contrast, Trawick First Class and Seven Corners RoundTrip Choice (CFAR 75%) include a Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Waiver if you:
- Purchase within 14-20 days of your initial deposit date,
- Insure 100% of all prepaid and non-refundable trip costs, and
- Are medically fit to travel at the time of purchase
Medical Insurance If Sick or Injured Traveling
Another area that National Geographic travel insurance earned low scores is in Medical Insurance.
Emergency Medical Insurance pays for medical treatment if you are injured or ill during your planned vacation. Even healthy people can be victims of an accident that requires costly care. A broken leg, a car accident, or even severe food poisoning can land you in the hospital.
If you plan overseas travel, most health insurance plans do not pay for medical treatment outside of the US. Even if your health insurance provides some coverage while you travel, it may restrict the nature of care and provider.
Also, Medicare does not pay for treatment outside the US. While some Medicare supplements cover up to $50,000 for treatment, it is for emergencies only. You must pay a deductible and up to $10,000 out of pocket. That's simply too costly.
Do not count on universal health care in foreign countries to pay for your treatment. They won't. If you are not a citizen of that country, you will pay full price for treatment at a private hospital.
Consequently, we recommend that you travel with at least $100,000 Emergency Medical Insurance while abroad.
Unfortunately, National Geographic insurance only provides $50,000 in Medical Insurance. That is just not enough to protect you in a critical health emergency. If you do not have adequate Medical Insurance, you could lose your retirement savings paying for hospitalization overseas instead of another trip.
Both Trawick First Class and Seven Corners RoundTrip Choice (CFAR 75%) provide $100,000 or more of Medical Insurance protection.
Emergency Medical Evacuation Brings You Home
Emergency Medical Evacuation pays for transportation to a medical facility capable of treating your condition.
Typically, Emergency Medical Evacuation is uncomplicated, like a ground ambulance to the nearest hospital. However, Emergency Medical Evacuation may include a costly airlift by medical personnel in a flying ICU.
After the doctors stabilize your condition and determine you need further treatment at home, you need transportation. Emergency Medical Evacuation transports you to a hospital near your home so you can recover.
When traveling outside the US, AARDY always recommends a policy that includes at least $250,000 of Emergency Medical Evacuation. The advice ensures you have enough financial protection, especially in a critical situation.
All three plans in this review meet or exceed this suggestion.
Trip Cancellation Protects Your Investment
Now that we reviewed how the policies cover travelers, let's discuss trip cost protection.
Sometimes unexpected events interfere with your travel plans, and you're forced to cancel. Trip Cancellation reimburses you for your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs if you must cancel your trip for a covered reason.
National Geographic's trip insurance plan covers cancellation for:
- Unforeseen illness, accidental injury, or death (traveler, traveling companion, family member, host, or service animal)
- Inclement weather, strike or mechanical delay of common carrier
- Default or bankruptcy
- Traffic accident en route to the destination
- Hijacking, quarantine, jury duty, subpoena
- Fire, flood, burglary, or natural disaster
- Theft of passport or visas
- Mandatory evacuation
- Called to military duty or revocation of leave
- Involuntary job termination
- Academic exam scheduled after policy purchase
- Unable to undergo vaccination or inoculation
- Organ transplant
- Adoption proceedings
National Geographic's list of covered cancellation reasons is comprehensive and on par with other Generali-backed policies we reviewed.
Most travelers will find this list sufficient. But it noticeably lacks Cancel For Work protections we see with other policies:
- Employer requires you to work
- Employer transfer
- Company merger
- Natural disaster at your place of employment
Hopefully, none of these things happen, and you can leave for your vacation without a hitch.
Trip Interruption If You Must Return Home Early
While Trip Cancellation covers you before you depart, Trip Interruption covers you once you leave for your trip. It reimburses you for the unused portion of your trip costs and additional charges to get home.
Covered Trip Interruptions covers circumstances similar to Trip Cancellation. For example, suppose you fall and break your leg during one of your excursions. You certainly will not be able to continue the rest of your vacation.
Once the local hospital patches you up, the physician will likely recommend you return home to recover. Trip Interruption reimburses you for the portion of the trip you did not use, and also covers the cost to travel home early.
Travel insurance also covers if your Trip Interruption is temporary and resolves before the end of your trip. You can claim the unused portion of the journey while hospitalized and the transportation costs to rejoin the trip.
Trip Interruption reimbursement ranges between 100-150% of the insured trip cost. Any amount above 100% helps cover transportation expenses.
In this case, all three plans cover a 150% benefit.
Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR)
The final grievance we have with National Geographic's travel insurance plan is that it does not offer an option for Cancel For Any Reason.
Cancel For Any Reason helps you recover up to 75% of your trip cost if you cancel your travel plans for any reason not listed on the policy. It is better to receive some compensation. Without CFAR, you would lose all of your prepaid trip costs for a non-covered cancellation.
CFAR provides peace of mind against any uncertainty about traveling.
Suppose your main concern for trip cancellation is the air quality at your destination. You worry that you cannot make your scheduled trip if the air quality reaches a certain level. Even if your doctor advises against traveling, Trip Cancellation does not cover it.
Travel Insurance with Cancel For Any Reason is the only option. Otherwise, you gamble the money paid toward your trip if the weather is not perfect on departure day.
AARDY offers a variety of CFAR options for residents in most states.
Typically, travel insurers only make CFAR plans available for purchase within 10-21 days of your initial trip deposit. Also, you must cover 100% of all prepaid non-refundable travel expenses. If you only paid a deposit, you will increase coverage as you spend more on travel arrangements. If you want to exercise your CFAR rights, you can cancel your trip anytime until 2 days before your departure date. When all 3 conditions are satisfied, the policy pays a 75% cash refund.
National Geographic Insurance Misses the Mark
National Geographic travel plan costs too much compared to other policies available on the travel insurance marketplace.
Overall, National Geographic's travel insurance policy is disappointing for the quality of the trips it provides. Many of NatGeo's Expeditions take you into uninhabited areas where access to quality medical care is limited.
Consequently, National Geographic trip insurance may not even cover your medical emergency or unexpected cancellation if related to a Pre-existing Medical Condition.
NatGeo is not just expensive insurance with mediocre coverage. There is a good chance their high price will be much more significant given how much it does not cover.
Finally, if you need more cancellation flexibility, you will not find it with National Geographic insurance. They do not offer Cancel For Any Reason.
When shopping for travel insurance, make sure the policy has sufficient Medical and Evacuation benefits for overseas expeditions and includes Pre-existing Conditions.
If you do not need flexible insurance like Cancel For Any Reason, standard plans like Trawick First Class offer the best value. It has more Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation than National Geographic at a fraction of the cost.
Can you get a better deal directly through the insurance company's site?
No. Travel insurance rates are state-regulated, and no one can change those rates.