When is the Best Time To Buy Travel Insurance?

Did you know that the time frame in which you purchase travel insurance will have an impact on your coverage and your policy?  Should you purchase travel insurance before you pay for your trip? After you pay for your trip? If after, how long after? One day? 5 days? 2 months? What about right before you depart? What about after you arrive in a foreign country?  Does this actually matter? You bet it does!

Today I want to help you understand the basics of when to purchase travel insurance for your next trip. This will help cover you in the best possible way.

It’s important to understand that this article is rather general information. Each insurance company has slightly different rules, regulations, and coverage. It’s important to do a bit of homework before you make a purchase. Always purchase coverage that best suits your needs!

travel insurance can be purchased after departure
Cruise on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam in the countryside stress-free!

So When Is The Best Time To Buy Travel Insurance?

The best time to purchase travel insurance is immediately after you have purchased your plane ticket, excursions, tours, hotels, or any other trip expenses. Once the total trip-investment cost is calculated and determined, then you will be able to insert that total cost into the insurance equation in order to receive an accurate quote. After a quote is received, then you can purchase your travel insurance.

Travel Insurance Purchase Timeframe Will Impact Your Coverage

Generally, the date that you purchase travel insurance in relation to the date that you make your first payment towards your trip, has the largest impact on pricing and coverage – obviously depending on the insurance provider. A ‘payment towards your trip’ can be your flight, hotels, excursions, or other trip-related items. 

Some insurance providers allow coverage to be purchased from 10-21 days after your first trip deposit. Again, every insurance company is different. If you purchase before/after this window of opportunity – it will make a difference in what can be insured or not.

Here are a few examples (but not all) of what can be affected based on the timeframe that you purchase your travel insurance – they are all usually affected by the 10-21 day window of opportunity. 

Buy Travel Insurance Before the First Trip Payment

Generally, you need to know the price of your trip before you can receive an estimate on the travel insurance cost. If you have not made any purchases for your upcoming trip, then technically, there is nothing to insure yet. 

An exception to this is if you are a Digital Nomad and you want to purchase an annual subscription to cover you (no matter where you travel to), then you can purchase your travel insurance before ever knowing where you will go or even when you will go. Be sure to check out the small list of Insurance Companies that I recommend.

travel insurance can be purchased to cover travel delays and natural disasters
Nothing is more exciting than hearing the news that your flight has been canceled, while you are at the airport :/

Buy Travel Insurance Immediately After the First Trip Payment

By ‘immediately’, I mean within about 10-21 days after the first trip payment (again this depends). With most insurance companies, you will need to know how much money that you have invested in your trip in order to receive an accurate quote. If you try to receive a quote before you have made actual purchases (flights, hotels, excursions, etc), then you will most likely not receive an accurate insurance quote. 

An accurate trip investment amount needs to be calculated (after purchases), added into the insurance equation, and then an accurate price can be provided to the customer. 

Some Insurance Companies Have Higher Rates

There are some companies that will increase their premiums if you wait to purchase insurance after the 10-21 day limit. There is an advantage to being quick, in some cases.

Cancel For Any Reason

In general, trip cancellation allows you to cancel your trip without losing all of your investment  due to some type of unforeseen event before departure. This usually includes things like natural disasters, deaths in the family, etc.

There are some travel insurance companies that offer ’trip cancellation for any reason’. And, well, it is just what it sounds like. You can cancel the trip for any reason that is outside of the normal trip cancellation coverage. If you decide that you simply don’t want to go on vacation to that country anymore, and you want to cancel your trip, go for it. The choice is yours.

Buy Travel Insurance Before the First Trip Payment
Traveling through the villages of Cambodia stress-free!

Job Conflict

Let’s say, for example, you booked your trip 3 months ago and your company announces that they need you to work during your vacation, without exceptions. Then obviously you would need to rearrange your vacation plans. This can be devastating if you are not insured properly. 

The majority of people who purchase plane tickets select the non-refundable option. At minimum, you would need to pay for all of the rescheduling fees.

But if you needed to cancel the trip altogether, then you would potentially lose all of your investment – not to mention excursions and hotels. Some excursion companies and hotels simply do not give refunds…especially when it’s close to your departure date.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions 

If you have pre-existing medical conditions and you want them included in your travel insurance policies, it is usually essential that these are recorded and included in the policy before the 10 to 21 day window. Apparently, time is of the essence.

Financial Problems

Have you ever booked a flight or an excursion and then they suddenly went out of business prior to your departure? Scary scenario, indeed. 

Will you be refunded or will they keep your money and walk away with it forever? Well, it depends on the company. However, I can guarantee you that if you have insurance for this particular scenario, you won’t have to worry nearly as much! The key is to have the insurance before the company announces its bankruptcy. 

Natural Disaster

Have you ever spent $10,000 on a trip only to have it all ruined by a natural disaster that randomly arrives at the time of your trip? That would definitely be devastating…financially speaking. Generally, if you have a form of trip cancellation insurance before the natural disaster arrives, you’ll most likely be good to go. 

Some insurance companies require that the insurance be purchased before the Weather Service gives the tropical storm a name. Once a name has officially been given, insurance cannot be purchased to simply cover your trip losses due to the storm.

So You Don’t Forget

I know, this one is particularly obvious. But, it’s truer than you may think! Many people plan on purchasing travel insurance before they leave on their trip, but somehow they forget. They only realize it until something bad happens…but by then, it’s too late. Luckily, some travel insurance companies allow you to purchase coverage after departure – so that’s good news!

Buy Travel Insurance Immediately After the First Trip Payment
Sit back and relax – you’re covered!

Buy Travel Insurance Just Before Departure

If your departure is tomorrow, then most likely you didn’t need to use trip cancellation insurance. That’s a good thing. Most companies still allow you to buy insurance at this stage. Some companies allow 2 days prior to departure, some allow the day before departure, and some allow just before the flight takes off.

The biggest downfall to this particular method is the ‘what-if factor’. What if you would have needed to use trip cancellation insurance? What if a family member would have died? What if there would have been a natural disaster? There are many more ‘what-if’s’. If something bad would have happened, then unfortunately you would have had to personally absorb all of the financial loss.

Buy Travel Insurance After Departure

Some companies do not allow you to purchase travel insurance after departure (after your plane has left). Other insurance companies welcome it with open arms. 

If for some reason you forgot to purchase travel insurance before you left on your trip, I highly recommend that you do it the moment that you remember. There are so many reasons why traveling without travel insurance is dangerous.

Buy Travel Insurance After Departure
If you are climbing a mountain in Bangladesh, and you realize that you forgot to buy Travel Insurance – take out your phone and do it immediately!

Buy Travel Insurance After a Problem Arises

If you are traveling in a foreign country and a problem happens, such as lost baggage for serious injury, then purchase insurance to try and get the insurance company to absorb the financial burden, is considered insurance fraud. This is definitely not something that is recommended.

Not only will your coverage be rejected, but some insurance companies may report you to the authorities to investigate your intent to commit insurance fraud. Definitely don’t go down this path. You will most likely regret it.

Insurance is made to be purchased in advance, never after a problem arises. If you don’t think that travel insurance is worth buying, then be sure to check out that link.

Always Be On The Safe Side

Like mentioned above, generally, the best time to purchase travel insurance is between 10 and 21 days after your first payment is made towards your trip. Remember, each travel insurance company is different. Do a bit of homework to determine these specific numbers through the company of your choice – if this timeframe is important to you. 

To avoid any headaches throughout this whole process, you should just simply purchase travel insurance immediately after your first payment(s) have been made to secure your trip. For example, you could make all of your trip purchases within one day, and then purchase your insurance the next day. Done. Now you will immediately have peace of mind and not have to worry about any of the potential problems mentioned above.

Be sure to check out my very small list of recommended Travel Insurance companies. Get great coverage without overpaying!


Hey - I'm Brock. I grew up in the USA, and I have been a full-time Solo Traveler since June of 2016. I am also a Travel Vlogger on YouTube where my primary focus is to simply hang out with local people around the world. My full story is here: About Me

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