When do I need travel insurance?

This is a common question our customers ask us, and usually we answer the same way: as soon as you book and make any payment towards your trip. It may seem like overkill, but your trip investment will be the most protected if you purchase your travel insurance plan as soon as you make your first payment on your trip.

Here’s why: time-sensitive benefits. Many travel insurance plans offer additional coverages to travelers who protect their trip within the first 10-30 days after making their first trip payment. While this time period will vary per plan, it’s important to purchase your plan soon after making your first trip payment so that your concerns will most likely be covered. Travelers will find many plans with two main time-sensitive benefits: Cancel for Any Reason and a pre-existing condition waiver.

Cancel for Any Reason Coverage

Depending on the plan you purchase, this benefit may be included in the plan or it may be available as an upgrade. Essentially, if you have Cancel for Any Reason coverage included in your travel insurance plan, you typically have up to 48-72 hours before you depart on your trip to cancel – no questions asked.

All comprehensive travel insurance plans include a list of covered perils under trip cancellation coverage. These covered reasons for cancellation will vary per plan and, while they may meet many traveler’s needs, they may not cover everyone’s main concerns. By adding Cancel for Any Reason coverage to your plan, you are extending your ability to be reimbursed (usually up to 75% of your pre-paid non-refundable trip cost) for cancellation of your trip due to ANY reason. The sky’s the limit here.

Pre-Existing Condition Waivers

These waivers are specific to comprehensive plans, and if all requirements are met, it waives the pre-existing condition exclusion. Many plans have a lookback period that allows the company to take a peek into medical records if a claim is filed due to medical reasons. Depending on the plan, this could apply to both those that are traveling as well as non-traveling family members.

If the travel insurance plan doesn’t include a pre-existing condition waiver, any prior medical event (diagnosis, test results or change in prescriptions) could prohibit reimbursement for emergency medical care during the trip, trip cancellation or trip interruption costs. As long as all eligibility requirements are met, the waiver can help to ensure that claims are not denied, even if due to a pre-existing condition.

Be sure to read the plan details to understand who is included in a pre-existing condition waiver. While some plans will only include the travelers in the waiver, other plans may include non-traveling family members as well. For instance, if you must cancel your trip due to a death or illness in the family, some plans, in the absence of a waiver, may only reimburse if it was due to an unforeseen condition. If you are traveling away from family members that may have had health conditions in the past, you may want to consider a waiver to fully protect your trip investment.

Other reasons to consider purchasing travel insurance early

Not all benefits are subject to a time-period but do become more useful the earlier you purchase a travel insurance plan. For instance, cancellation due to a hurricane warning. While not all travel insurance plans will list this as a covered reason for cancellation, if they do, it will have stipulations. Such as, the plan must be purchased prior to the hurricane being named.

Similarly, if your tour operator, cruise line, airline or hotel files for bankruptcy or financial default, the plan must have been purchased before any indication the company was in economic trouble. If the plan is purchased after the public was warned about the potential default, the plan will not provide reimbursement. Not all plans provide these benefits, so if you are concerned be sure to look for a plan that covers financial default specifically.