When to Get Travel Insurance

Written and researched by Michael Kays (Travel Insurance Expert) | Fact Checked by Danya Kristen (Insurance Agent).

Travel insurance, much like a trusty guide, is a crucial companion for your journey. It’s there to steer you through the turbulence that can come with venturing into the unknown.

But when should you actually get travel insurance? It’s a common question, and the answer can be as varied as the exotic destinations on your bucket list.

The Golden Rule: As Soon As Possible

The golden rule for purchasing travel insurance is straightforward: buy it as soon as possible. Once you’ve made any significant financial commitment towards your trip—like booking your flights, reserving accommodation, or paying for tours—it’s time to think about insurance. But why so early, you might ask?

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1. Cancellation Coverage: Your Pre-Trip Bodyguard

One of the main reasons to get travel insurance early is to take advantage of cancellation coverage. This feature kicks in if you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, injury, or a death in the family.

If you wait until you’re close to your departure date to get insurance, you might miss out on this important benefit.

2. Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver: Your Get Out of Jail Free Card

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you may qualify for a waiver that would cover them, but only if you purchase your policy within a specific window after making your first trip payment—usually 14-21 days.

Miss this window, and you could be left without coverage for those conditions.

3. Supplier Default: Your Financial Safety Net

This benefit covers you if your tour operator, airline, or other travel supplier goes out of business. But as with the pre-existing condition waiver, there’s usually a specific time frame in which you must purchase your policy to get this coverage.

But What If You’re a Last-Minute Planner?

Despite all the advice to buy early, we understand that life happens, and sometimes, you might find yourself planning a trip at the eleventh hour. Can you still get travel insurance? Absolutely!

While you may miss out on certain benefits like pre-existing condition waivers or supplier default coverage, you can still get coverage for medical emergencies, trip interruption, and baggage loss or delay, among other things.

You can typically purchase insurance up until the day before you leave, so it’s never too late to protect yourself.

And What About Long-Term Travellers?

If you’re a digital nomad or planning an extended trip, you might be wondering how travel insurance works for you. The good news is, many travel insurance companies offer long-term policies designed for travelers just like you.

Remember, though, that travel insurance is not a substitute for health insurance. If you’re going to be away for a long time, make sure you also have appropriate health coverage.


In a nutshell, the answer to “When should you get travel insurance?” is: as soon as you can. Booking your travel insurance shortly after you start putting money down for your trip ensures you have the broadest possible coverage.

However, if you’re a late planner or long-term traveler, there are still plenty of options available to make sure you’re covered.

Traveling is about embracing the unknown, but that doesn’t mean leaving yourself unprotected from the potential pitfalls of your journey.

So, get your travel insurance sorted and then go forth with peace of mind into the adventure that awaits!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can I buy travel insurance after booking my trip?

A: Yes, you can buy travel insurance after booking your trip. However, it’s recommended to purchase it as soon as you’ve made any significant payments towards your trip to ensure you have maximum coverage.

Q2: Is there a deadline for buying travel insurance?

A: Typically, you can purchase travel insurance up to the day before you leave for your trip. However, certain benefits such as pre-existing condition waivers and supplier default coverage require you to purchase the policy within a specific window after making your first trip payment.

Q3: Can I buy travel insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

A: Yes, you can buy travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Some insurance providers offer a pre-existing condition waiver, but it usually needs to be purchased within a certain time frame after making the first trip payment.

Q4: Can I buy travel insurance for a trip I’m already on?

A: Policies vary, but in general, travel insurance is intended to be purchased before your trip begins. Once you’re already traveling, your options may be more limited. It’s best to check with individual insurance providers for their specific rules.

Q5: What if I’m planning a long-term trip, when should I get travel insurance?

A: If you’re planning a long-term trip or are a digital nomad, it’s a good idea to look at long-term policies designed for extended travel. It’s recommended to purchase this as soon as your plans are confirmed.

Q6: Is travel insurance worth it?

A: Travel insurance provides a safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances that can disrupt your trip. It covers a range of issues from minor inconveniences like lost luggage to major problems like medical emergencies or trip cancellations. For most travelers, the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re protected is worth the cost of travel insurance.