Will buying travel insurance last-minute cost me more?
You’ve got your passport, your bags are packed, but you still haven’t purchased travel insurance. Lucky for you, last-minute travel insurance won’t necessarily cost you more the closer you get to your trip; however, waiting to purchase travel insurance may end up costing you more in the long run.
What travel insurance covers
A comprehensive travel insurance policy has emergency medical coverage (including coverage for pre-existing conditions), repatriation coverage, luggage insurance, and cancellation insurance for any and all eventualities, delays, and disruptions. With a policy like this, you’re ready for hurricanes, medical emergencies, lost baggage, and all manner of eventuality that can happen on or before your trip.
As your trip approaches, it will get tougher to find policies with all of these features. Some insurance companies will even give timeframes on how soon you must purchase a policy after booking; others require you to book a specific number of days prior to departure.
Last-minute travel insurance and trip cancellation
Last-minute travel insurance policies do exist, but they may be missing a few key components. The first thing to go is cancellation insurance. About 97% of all last-minute travel coverage excludes cancellation coverage.
Even if you’re able to get cancellation coverage, it won’t cover any cancellation risks that existed at the time you bought your policy. Cancellation insurance begins the second you purchase your policy, so if there’s already a storm in the forecast or you’ve been under the weather for a few days, your cancellation claims won’t be covered.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it will be especially hard to find last-minute travel insurance – maybe even impossible. Many insurance companies will restrict anyone with pre-existing conditions from buying insurance less than a couple days ahead of departure.
To get around this problem, you may consider opting for multi-trip or annual travel insurance policies. These will allow you to tailor your coverage to facilitate any number of trips taken without warning.
They do cost more but they’re generally worthwhile if you’re planning two or more trips in the span of a year.
Other pitfalls of last-minute travel insurance
Although it may not seem fair, insurance companies are known to be wary of claims made by policyholders who purchased insurance last minute. Claims made are scrutinized carefully for signs of pre-existing risk factors. Buying insurance right before a trip is known to be one of the most common reasons for claim denial.
What to do if you book a last-minute trip
The best offence is to purchase travel insurance the moment you know your destination and dates. This will ensure you have full coverage for anything that develops before you travel that could force you to cancel, as well as anything that happens on your trip.
If you do book last minute, try to purchase travel insurance at least 24 hours before your departure. Policies offered will be significantly more complete than those purchased hours before a flight. Make sure to read the fine print for rules regarding timeframes that could void your coverage.
Travel insurance is not just something you need while you travel – it’s also something that can save you money and trouble if buy it early. Make it a habit to book your insurance right when you book your trip to get the most out of your coverage.