For some travelers, purchasing travel insurance can be an afterthought. Maybe they put off buying travel insurance until the last minute, or maybe they didn’t realize that most domestic health insurance policies don’t provide international coverage.
Whatever the reason, the phrase “better late than never” can apply to purchasing travel insurance, depending on the benefits you need. Even if you wait until the last second, travel insurance can still provide you with some protection and potentially save you thousands in the event your trip doesn’t go ahead as planned.
When is it Too Late to Buy Travel Insurance?
Travelers can buy travel insurance as late as the day before their departure date if they want to buy a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy. These single trip plans typically include cancellation coverage and coverage for medical emergencies, travel delays, and luggage.
For travel medical insurance policies without Trip Cancellation coverage, travelers may be able to buy a policy after their departure date directly from the provider.
With that said, travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events. While it’s still possible to buy travel insurance late, you may not be eligible for coverage if an event that impacts your travel already occurred or became predictable before you bought. This may include the following:
- An injury or illness
- A natural disaster
- A terror attack
- Death of a travel companion or family member
- Named tropical storm
- Civil unrest
- Authorized pilot strike
To be covered, a policy must be purchased before an unforeseen travel disruption becomes a known event. For that reason, Squaremouth recommends purchasing a policy as early as possible, typically right after booking your flights or accommodations.
When Does Travel Insurance Coverage Begin?
Travel insurance coverage will typically kick in at 12:01 a.m. the day after you purchase your policy. This is referred to as your policy’s “Effective Date.” Your policy’s Trip Cancellation coverage, if applicable, will begin immediately. All other benefits, such as Travel Delay, Emergency Medical, and baggage protection, will begin once you depart for your trip.