Trip cancellation insurance can be an extremely beneficial component of your travel insurance plan, if handled correctly. Each plan will have a list of “covered reasons” for your trip cancellation coverage for reimbursement. Timing has a lot to do with whether the coverage is valid, depending on your reason for cancelling.

If you are planning on using the coverage for a traveler’s illness or a family member’s illness, your plan (and the coverage) will only be considered valid if you are considered medically fit to travel when you purchase the plan. What does this mean exactly? Simple. The person behind the reason for cancellation (you, a fellow traveler or a family member still at home) cannot be ill or injured prior to you purchasing your plan.

So, if you just broke your leg and think you can buy travel insurance now to cancel your safari trip to Africa without loss, you are mistaken. However, if you purchase the plan soon after your initial payment towards the trip and then break your leg several weeks later – you’ll most likely be covered depending on your level of coverage.

When a plan refers to non-traveling family members being ‘fit-to-travel’, it more or less refers to that family member being in good health. As long as the family member in question is not already ill, injured or in the hospital, there will be options for cancellation if they should become unexpectedly ill or injured.

If you are concerned about the possibility of needing to cancel and very aware of a family member’s or a personal medical condition that may limit your coverage, buy your travel insurance plan as early as possible. Most plans offer a pre-existing condition waiver (provided you meet the requirements), which will stop the travel insurance company from looking back into your medical history during the claim process, and they will only make sure you were medically fit to travel