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When is the best time to purchase Travel Insurance?

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Although it is feasible to buy travel insurance until the last day before departure, perfect timing is crucial to reap your policy’s benefits.

Regardless of the destination you have chosen or the duration of your trip abroad, travel insurance is crucial to protect your health and wallet during the vacation. The right time to get insurance and to reap the benefits depends on what you want to cover precisely, from cancelled flights to stolen luggage. 

This is even truer in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, a Bloomberg survey in May 2021 found out that over half of Canadians purchased a travel insurance policy before leaving home. This has increased from 40% between 2017 and 2019 (a survey carried out by Leger in February 2020). 

Therefore, a common question that customers wonder about is “When is the best time to purchase a travel insurance policy?” – Before a trip is booked? The same day the trip is scheduled? After the trip is paid for? Before or after departure? 

As you can see, different options cause confusion and uncertainty among travel insurance seekers. To find out the “sweet spot” and some life-saving rules when buying travel insurance, continue reading our article! 

The golden rules 

After your first trip, payment is made 

If you want to purchase a comprehensive policy that will cover trip cancellations, it would be best to do it after paying at least one expense towards your trip. For instance, this can be airfare, accommodations or a cruise deposit. 

Should you require coverage for a pre-existing medical condition or are keen on the optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage, remember that these have time-sensitive eligibility requirements tied to your initial trip payment. In other words, you have a limited time window to purchase a policy that grants access to these benefits. 

You must have a good grasp of the total expected cost of the trip to obtain the most accurate quote for the right travel insurance coverage. 

Before when the plan is needed 

Of course, buying travel insurance last minute is feasible, but comprehensive policies which include medical coverage must be bought before departure. Once you recognize a need for medical treatments, it might be too late to purchase any coverage on your trip. 

So, as soon as you have booked and made the first payment for your trip, start researching and comparing quotes from different insurance providers to find the most suitable one! 

Buying travel insurance last-minute 

We understand that travel is not always meticulously planned way ahead of time. Sometimes travel opportunities sneak up on us quite unexpectedly, whether from sheer spontaneity or something serious that requires hasty arrangements. Undoubtedly, buying travel insurance after making the first trip deposit is the best way to access all the potential benefits and protection. But what if the first payment and the trip itself go practically hand-in-hand?

This means you will have no option but to purchase a policy just a day or two before departure. It is disappointing to say but buying travel insurance at this time is seriously risky, and it should be avoided as much as possible. 

Any insurance policies take a few days to come into effect, meaning you will be travelling uninsured until this particular date of activation. This can even result in denied claims and lost coverage for cancellation costs. 

Some primary coverage that requires early purchases to come into effect include: 

  • Coverage for cancellation for any reason (i.e., CFRA policy). 
  • Coverage for cancellation due to work reasons.
  • Protection against financial default.
  • Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition.

If you are interested in any of these specific policies, purchase them earlier on and contact the travel insurance companies for detailed information.

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Essential tips for last-minute purchases

Don’t think about fancy benefits 

While CFRA policies are incredibly popular with travellers, and for good reasons, last-minute buyers should not focus on this benefit if they are about to board the plane. This is because putting together a last-minute itinerary probably means you will not change your mind and cancel your trip for any reason. Additionally, CFRA policies require policyholders to notify all travel suppliers of cancellations two days before departure. Hence, last-minute travellers might not have time on their sides! 

Keep up with the news 

It is recommended that you browse the news and weather quite often before departure to see if these disruptions can be covered in your policy. It is essential to acknowledge that travel insurance only covers unforeseen events, such as hurricane threats or possible airline strikes. Usually, anything considered “known perils” discussed in the media for some time would not likely be covered. 

When entering a last-minute travel insurance policy, it would only serve you to have a realistic expectation of what is and is not truly available. 

Take advantage of time-sensitive benefits 

The good news about buying insurance last minute is that you will be eligible for some practical benefits since your first trip deposit is made around the same time. Unlike travellers who wait, you can receive items such as pre-existing conditions waivers, which are only available within 10-21 days of the initial trip payment. 

Some policies also offer Single-trip travel medical, Evacuation memberships, or Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage as post-departure benefits. 

So, what is the IDEAL time? 

If you plan for a one-off trip, go for the typical “Single trip travel insurance” with the rule above. Nevertheless, frequent travellers in a calendar year will benefit more from “multi-trip insurance,” which should be purchased before booking flight tickets. This kind of annual policy will surely save you from the hassle of purchasing travel insurance during the policy coverage duration. Besides, it proves to be more cost-effective than traditional single trip insurance. 

Generally speaking, it is sensible to buy travel insurance within fourteen days of booking your holiday. This should, of course, coincide with the date you make the initial trip arrangement and payment. 

The bottom line

A lot can go wrong between the time you book your trip and board the flight. However, purchasing travel insurance simultaneously with your first booking/ payment keeps you protected against unexpected events, which is the very purpose of buying travel insurance. 

Insurance Direct Canada‘s experts are available to help you obtain more information, insurance quotes from different insurers and proceed to acquire a travel insurance policy if you wish.

There are many good insurance companies in Canada that you might want to get to know more about before proceeding further. You can always refer to our review articles via the button above, or use these direct links: Sun Life review, Manulife review, Foresters Financial review, iA Financial review, CPP review, etc.

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