If you have never purchased travel insurance before, you may be wondering what to expect from the purchase process. What kinds of questions will you be asked? How much should a travel insurance policy cost? What kind of information will you need to know before you buy a policy?

Since travel insurance is, after all, insurance, it will be – and should be – a somewhat different kind of process than purchasing other goods and services online. One of the telltale signs of an inferior travel insurance policy is that it may be offered to you as an “add-on” to another purchase, such as an airline ticket or hotel booking, without requiring any additional information from you in order to buy your policy. Good, comprehensive travel insurance policies will require you to enter some basic information about yourself, your traveling companions, and your trip before you will be able to receive a price quote and make a purchase.

However, purchasing travel insurance does not need to be complicated, and it’s not as involved a process as purchasing life or homeowner’s insurance. You should not be asked for personal information such as your Social Security number, your health insurance policy number, or a driver’s license number. Any “travel insurance site” that requests these types of personal disclosures from you is likely untrustworthy.

Information you should need to provide:

  1. Names and ages (and possibly birth dates) of yourself and your traveling companions. Age is a requirement that helps determine pricing.
  2. Residence. Country and state are minimum requirements that will determine which policies are legally available to you. Full home address may be asked for later in the process, so that your insurance provider can contact you as needed.
  3. Planned destination(s). You will need to disclose at least your primary destination (the place to which you’ll be traveling for the greatest length of time, or the place you’re traveling first) in order to get a travel insurance quote. It’s generally not necessary to provide every destination on your list, if you’re going to multiple places.
  4. Dates of travel, which helps determine both which policies will provide you with adequate coverage, and what the price may be.
  5. The total pre-paid, nonrefundable cost of your trip. Since travel insurance pricing is based, in part, on what the reimbursable value of your trip might be, it’s important to have this information on hand before you begin the process of purchasing a travel insurance policy. Since some travel insurance policies require you to insure the full amount of your trip cost in order to receive benefits, it’s important to be as accurate as possible.

With this information, you should be able to get a travel insurance quote and begin the process of purchasing your insurance. You may also be asked, later in the process, for information such as a phone number or email address at which your insurance provider can contact you; the name of any tour company that may be providing some of your travel experiences; and whether or not you, a traveling companion, or a non-traveling family member might have any pre-existing medical conditions which might interfere with your travel plans. These questions may or may not be asked depending on what kind of policy you have chosen, which company is providing the policy, and what level of coverage you’re seeking.

You should never be expected to purchase a travel insurance policy without at least being able to see a sampling of the coverage and benefits it would offer to you. Also, if you are not able to read the policy details in full online before purchasing, you should be offered a review period in which you can receive the policy from the company, read it, and return it for a refund if it does not meet your expectations. These safeguards ensure that you will be able to verify that you’re satisfied with the terms of any policy you do purchase.