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Travel Insurance: When to Purchase It

Posted by Phil Dougherty
January 29, 2024

When people are looking for insurance coverage abroad, they are typically interested in one of two types of insurance: Travel Medical insurance – primarily intended to cover medical expenses and evacuations while traveling abroad- or, Trip Insurance which reimburses non-refundable, unused payments and deposits made towards a trip when it is interrupted or cancelled for a covered reason.

Our recommendation on when to purchase insurance is different for each type due to their distinct benefits.

Travel Medical Insurance

Our Recommendation: purchase this insurance after buying plane tickets while it is fresh on your mind, or once your travel plans are firm.

If the trip is cancelled, postponed or travel dates are changed, many insurance carriers will provide a full refund, or insurance can be adjusted to coincide with new travel dates….provided requests are made prior to the original effective date of insurance.

This insurance must be purchased at least 24 hours before departure of your international trip.

Once a traveler is abroad there are fewer plan options available to purchase travel medical insurance and may include more restrictions. Pre-existing conditions may or may not be covered and it is important to read the policy details for these restrictions and limitations.

Trip Insurance

Our Recommendation: First, you’ll want to have a good grasp of your total non-refundable trip costs (airfare, accommodations, packaged tours, cruises, etc.). Then, it’s best to begin coverage as soon as possible after making the first trip deposit. Waiting to purchase coverage can result in additional restrictions and financial exposure. Typically, this insurance can be purchased up to 12 months in advance of your trip.

To qualify for the most comprehensive and broader, “Cancel For Any Reason” benefit, and/or to have pre-existing conditions covered, you have a limited amount of time to buy a plan after you’ve made a deposit towards your trip (within 14 days with many carriers). The clock starts ticking once you’ve made your first trip deposit so we recommend evaluating insurance premiums before making deposits so you can factor in these costs and then purchase a plan immediately thereafter.