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Is It Too Late For You To Get Travel Insurance?

Last Updated on 12/2/2022

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Picture this: You’re leaving for a trip in two weeks and you JUST realized that travel insurance would probably be a really good idea. We’ve all been there. But now the question is…when is it too late to buy travel insurance? If you’ve been there (or ever will be!), we’ve got some good news: You can buy travel insurance at any point –even when you’ve already started your trip.

beautiful scenery of village in Austria

That said, your coverage options will change pretty drastically the longer you wait to purchase your insurance. While the price will typically stay the same no matter when you book, your coverage selection will be much broader if you purchase your travel insurance right when you book your trip. In fact, there are several types of travel insurance that require advance purchase –especially when it comes to cancellation coverage. 

Here’s what you’re looking at in terms of deadlines for purchasing insurance. 

blue outline of arrow pointing right Purchasing ASAP:

There are various valuable travel insurance benefits that must be purchased within a specific time frame in order to remain eligible for them. However, if you have concerns about pre-existing conditions, you’ll want to purchase travel insurance right after booking your trip. This way, you secure coverage if your pre-existing condition worsens or flares up during your trip. The time frame to buy this benefit is anywhere from 24 hours up to when you make your final trip payment date, depending on the travel insurance company you purchase from. 

Grand Teton National Park

For example, If you have a pre-existing medical condition that may cause you to seek out care during your trip or come home early, you’ll want to purchase travel insurance right after you book your trip so you have access to Pre-Existing Medical Condition coverage. This one is critical, as it’s very time-sensitive. Many policies won’t grant you a pre-existing condition exclusion waiver if you miss the post-booking time frame, so act fast and get an instant quote and compare travel insurance plans!

green button that reads quote and compare travel insurance

blue outline of arrow pointing right Purchasing 1-21 Days Post-Booking:

If you have concerns related to the pandemic, travel supplier bankruptcy, or work, purchasing early can get you much-needed travel insurance benefits in case any of these things cause you to cancel your trip. The following types of travel insurance provide coverage for these worries, so make sure you buy within 1-21 days (depending on the insurance provider) of your initial trip deposit date:

  • Natural Disaster Coverage: You’re headed to a destination where there’s any chance a natural disaster could hit.
  • Cancel for Any Reason Coverage: You can anticipate that there’s any chance you might want to cancel your trip.
  • Cancel for Work Reasons: You have an unpredictable job or work schedule.
  • Financial Default Coverage: You want to protect against losing money if the travel company you’re working with (and have already paid) shuts down for any reason.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Purchasing the Day Before Your Trip:

Planning a trip is a massive feat and it’s understandable that you might put off purchasing travel insurance. On the other hand, you might have planned a last-minute trip and still want to insure it before departing.  

woman walking near water in park

Either way, you can buy a travel insurance policy last-minute that includes Trip Cancellation Insurance to cover if you have to cancel for an unforeseen circumstance, including death, illness, or injury, anytime up until the day before your trip departure. This is because the insurance will go into effect the day after you purchase it, so it’s too late to buy comprehensive travel insurance after 12am on the day of your departure…but anytime before that works. What you need to understand is that you have to get coverage before the circumstance arises. So if you get injured before you buy travel insurance, you can’t then buy the insurance, cancel your trip and expect to get a refund of your trip costs.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Purchasing On Your Trip: 

If you find yourself on your trip and realize that you forgot to buy travel insurance, you can still buy travel insurance. Look for an international medical policy, also known as a travel medical plan. Unfortunately, travel medical plans won’t include trip cancellation coverage or benefit upgrades like Pre-Existing Condition waivers. On the bright side, getting this type of plan means you’ll likely be able to get at least Emergency Medical and Medical Evacuation coverage should any unexpected medical issues arise. Plus, they usually include a 24/7 emergency assistance provider that can help in an emergency.

church in greece

Some of these policies will also include Trip Interruption insurance, which will refund you any unused prepaid expenses if you have to cut your trip short for other unexpected reasons, such as illness, injury, or death. It might even cover additional Travel Loss and Delay expenses incurred as a result of those unforeseen reasons. Again, the biggest thing to keep in mind here is that the travel insurance policy generally has to be purchased before the circumstance arises (aka “unforeseen events”) –not after.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Why You Should Purchase Travel Insurance

The purpose of comprehensive travel insurance is to protect the money you’ve paid towards your vacation if something comes up causing you to cancel your trip. Instead of losing your money like you may without travel insurance, your policy could reimburse you for those nonrefundable costs in cash. You might already have some coverage with your credit card, airline, or cruise line, but be wary of their terms and conditions –the coverage you have with them might not be enough. Travel suppliers’ travel insurance is usually quite limited and often more expensive than what’s offered by third parties.

St. Charle's Church in Vienna

Travel insurance is much more than just Trip Cancellation coverage though! It can also provide medical insurance in the event of a travel or medical emergency. For example, most stateside health insurance policies won’t provide medical coverage once you leave the country. With a travel insurance policy in hand on your vacation though, you can get reimbursements for most medical charges you incur if you have to go to the hospital or clinic. Plus, if your trip is delayed due to a covered reason, you could get refunded for extra hotel and meal costs while you wait for the next flight out.

blue outline of arrow pointing right The Best Time to Buy Travel Insurance

At Yonder, we recommend purchasing insurance soon after making your first trip payment or deposit, even if you’re not looking to purchase any time-sensitive coverage. This ensures you’ll have benefits in case something bad happens the following day which would cancel your trip. If you booked a last-minute trip, making sure to buy travel insurance can save you a large sum if end up needing to be hospitalized or if your flight gets delayed.

We don’t recommend purchasing travel insurance before making your bookings since you might end up under or over-insuring your trip –the total cost or deposit amount could be unknown before that point. Our best tip is to insure what you’ve paid so far and then increase your travel insurance coverage as you make additional payments toward your trip. However, if you’ve paid all your trip costs upfront, by all means, insure the full cost!

blue outline of arrow pointing right Where to Buy Travel Insurance

As we said, it pays to shop around for travel insurance. Using Yonder’s travel insurance comparison site allows you to look at the top policies in the industry, all in one place! 

Yonder's Providers

You can compare travel insurance plans side-by-side as well so you can get the most comprehensive coverage at the most affordable price. Using our filters can help make sure you get the benefits you need added to your plan.

i need to cancel my trip for any reason

blue outline of arrow pointing right Next Steps

We’ve said it before but we want to make sure we say it again…the only time that it’s too late to buy travel insurance is after an “unforeseen circumstance” becomes a “known circumstance”. So we recommend thinking carefully about what kind of coverage you might need and purchasing it as early as possible to make sure you’re all set and can enjoy the process of planning and going on your trip! 

Already booked travel insurance? Check out this list of next steps you should take to ensure you’re well on your way to a smooth trip. If traveling makes you a bit anxious these days, check out our blog post on how to leave your anxiety at home for a stress-free trip.

Yonder’s goal is to make buying travel insurance as easy of an experience as possible for you. Use our Instant Quote Tool to figure out what coverage you can get and how much it’ll cost. And you can always reach out to us at [email protected] or 855-358-6433 if you have any other questions–we’re here to help make sure you’re covered, no matter what comes up. 


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