Not sure when to buy travel insurance in your trip booking process? Find out the best time to buy your travel insurance policy to get total protection and all trip costs covered with our quick guide.
If you’re torn between adding a simple trip protection policy during the booking process or waiting until after you’ve booked, paid for, and planned your trip, we’ve got you covered.
We’ll show you when to buy travel insurance to protect all reservations and prepaid costs for your trip below. Stick around for helpful tips and info on travel insurance policy start dates, coverage periods, and more.
When to Buy Travel Insurance
- Buy travel insurance after booking all prepaid reservations
- Get travel insurance coverage within 2 weeks of your first deposit
- Buy insurance ASAP after booking for a longer coverage window
What’s the right time to buy travel insurance? Should you wait until a few days before your departure date? Do you need to buy it during or directly after booking your trip?
The best time to buy travel insurance is right after booking all of your trip reservations. The next best time to buy travel insurance is within 2 weeks (14 days) after paying your first trip deposit.
So why is it a good idea to buy travel insurance right after you’ve finished booking all the reservations and tickets for your trip?
Waiting to buy travel insurance until you’ve booked all of your prepaid reservations is key. It’s the best way to ensure 100% (or more) of your trip costs will be covered by your travel insurance policy.
Why? Because travel insurance costs are based on your total trip costs.
You won’t know your total trip costs until you’ve booked and arranged reservations for all the transportation, tours, and accommodations you’ll be using during your trip.
Buying travel insurance after booking part of your trip – like your flights or hotel rooms – can leave you uncovered for any additional trip reservations or tickets purchased afterward.
That might mean you only get a portion of your total trip costs reimbursed in the event of an accident, cancellation, or delay!
If you don’t buy travel insurance right after finishing booking reservations for your trip, all is not lost. You can still purchase travel insurance up until the night before your trip with a few more limitations.
But it’s a good idea to try to buy travel insurance no later than 14 days of making your first deposit on the trip.
Buying travel insurance after you’ve made your first trip deposit will still give you a wide coverage window and provide options if you need to cancel, delay, or change your trip itinerary closer to the departure date.
The key here is making sure you buy your travel insurance early – the sooner you purchase your policy, the more coverage and freedom you’ll have for trip cancellation.
What’s the Best Time to Buy Travel Insurance?
- Buy travel insurance right after fully booking your trip
- Ensures you won’t forget to buy insurance
- Gives you the widest range of cancellation coverage
Wondering when to buy travel insurance to be on the safe side with the most cancellation coverage? Purchase your travel insurance policy right after you’ve booked all the prepaid reservations and events for your trip.
Buying travel insurance right after you’ve booked all your prepaid trip reservations – your flight, cruise, hotel, tour, add-on excursions, etc. – is going to give you the broadest range of coverage.
That’s because your policy’s trip cancellation benefits won’t kick in until your travel insurance plan’s effective date.
When you buy travel insurance right after you’ve completely booked your trip, your policy’s effective date starts the next day (if you’ve purchased travel insurance online).
That means you’ll start getting cancellation and trip delay coverage right away. Why wait any longer to put your policy into effect? That only reduces your window of coverage.
Buying travel insurance right after booking is the only way to ensure your costs will be covered/reimbursed in the event something goes wrong.
When to Buy Travel Insurance After Booking
- Buy travel insurance within 14 days of making your first deposit
- Still gives you a wide cancellation coverage window
- Ensures more cancellation reasons are covered
Let’s say you’ve already booked your trip and paid your first deposit. Can you still buy travel insurance at this time? Absolutely.
While buying travel insurance right after booking all parts of your trip is the best case scenario, buying a policy after booking and paying your first deposit will still give you plenty of cancellation coverage.
The sooner you can purchase your travel insurance policy after booking, the better. Try to buy your travel insurance policy no later than 2 weeks after paying your first deposit to get the widest range of coverage.
Some travel insurance companies have policies that won’t cover cancellations related to pre-existing medical conditions if you buy travel insurance later than 14 days after making your first trip payment.
Until you buy travel insurance, any prepaid costs and deposits you’ve paid toward your trip will be unprotected and at risk of loss in the event you need to cancel or delay your trip.
So the longer you go without travel insurance after booking and paying deposits, the riskier your trip gets in terms of out-of-pocket expenses and losses.
The second money changes hands for reservations and tickets related to your trip, you need travel insurance to cover you for potential cancellations, delays, and plan changes.
When Is It Too Late to Buy Travel Insurance?
- You can still buy travel insurance 2-3 days before your departure date
- Must buy insurance before 11:59PM the night before your departure date
- Reduces or eliminates trip cancellation coverage and plan options
Maybe it’s mere days before your planned departure date – or your flight is tomorrow. When is it too late to buy travel insurance?
Think of it this way: The best time to buy travel insurance was yesterday. The next best time is right now!
The best time to buy travel insurance was yesterday. The next best time is right now!
You can buy travel insurance as late as 2 days before your planned departure date. Though it’s not recommended, getting coverage late is better than going without coverage.
Something to keep in mind is that your travel insurance policy options will significantly decrease as you get closer to the departure date for your trip.
You might be limited to purchasing a travel emergency medical insurance plan without trip cancellation coverage if you try to purchase insurance the day before you leave.
If you need trip protection – trip cancellation, interruption, and delay coverage – the latest you can get travel insurance is within 2-3 days of your planned departure date.
For last-minute coverage that may not include trip cancellation protection, you can purchase travel insurance as late as 11:59PM the night before your planned departure date.
Most travel insurance companies don’t offer policies that begin on the departure date. Your departure date is the marker for when it’s generally too late to buy travel insurance.
You’ll have to purchase insurance at least a day in advance of your departure date to get any type of coverage for emergency medical care, trip delays, delayed/lost/stolen baggage, and missed connections.
Can I Buy Travel Insurance During My Trip?
- A few travel insurance companies offer post-departure insurance plans
- Coverage kicks in immediately or 48-72 hours after plan purchase
- Coverage may include trip interruption, delay, and emergency medical
Travel insurance is meant to protect, insure, and cover you for unforeseen events and expenses that may occur before or during your trip.
That said, sometimes life happens and you may find yourself already abroad enjoying your trip before you realize you forgot to get travel insurance.
So can you buy travel insurance after departure, when you’re already on your trip? You can, but there are some limitations to the companies that offer post-departure coverage and the types of coverage you can get.
Travel insurance companies like SafetyWing, Heymondo, and World Nomads all offer travel insurance plans you can purchase when you’re already abroad.
Your coverage can be adjusted to last 1-180 days, depending on the length of your trip. Post-departure travel insurance coverage may go into effect immediately (SafetyWing) or within 48-72 hours after you purchase your plan.
These plans obviously won’t cover pre-trip cancellation, but may include coverage for trip interruption, missed connections, baggage, and emergency medical expenses.
Benefits of Buying Travel Insurance Early
Buying travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your trip is always the best plan. If you buy travel insurance ASAP after booking and/or paying your first deposit, you’ll reap the benefits!
- Better cancellation coverage. Getting travel insurance as soon as possible after booking means you’ll get the best cancellation coverage. The sooner you get travel insurance, the sooner your plan’s effective date starts – and the sooner your cancellation coverage kicks in. If anything comes up during the time between your trip and travel insurance purchase to now, there’s a good chance your cancellation will be covered and you’ll be reimbursed. The longer you wait to buy insurance, the shorter your cancellation window is.
- Completely insure your trip. When you purchase travel insurance early enough (within 2 weeks of paying your first trip deposit), you’ll be able to fully ensure your trip costs. Say a tropical storm begins brewing a week before your planned trip to Mexico. If the storm is named and you haven’t already gotten coverage, you won’t be able to cancel your trip with full reimbursement. But with travel insurance already in place, you’ll be able to cancel with full reimbursement even after the storm is named.
- Get the best insurance policy options. Buying travel insurance too close to your departure date will significantly reduce the number and types of insurance plans available to you. You might be limited to buying emergency travel medical insurance plans if you wait until the day before your trip, but buying soon after booking gives you the option to buy trip protection/cancellation insurance, emergency travel medical insurance, or comprehensive (cancellation + medical) travel insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have a few questions about when to buy travel insurance? See if you can find your answers among the most frequently asked questions below.
How long in advance do you need travel insurance?
You need travel insurance as soon as you've fully booked your trip and/or paid your first deposit. The moment money changes hands, you risk losing that money if you don't have a travel insurance plan in place with trip protection and cancellation coverage.
Can you buy travel insurance right before you leave?
You can buy travel insurance right before you leave, but your plan options will be severely limited. Starting 24 hours before your departure date, you may not be able to purchase trip protection/cancellation coverage.
Emergency travel medical insurance may be your only option right before you leave, and that's better than going without insurance at all.
How much should you expect to pay for travel insurance?
Travel insurance costs are based on your total trip costs, coverage selected, your age, and the length of your trip. That said, average travel insurance costs are typically 4% to 12% of your total trip costs and range from $95 to $250.
What is the effective date of a travel insurance policy?
Your travel insurance policy's effective date is usually the day after you buy your plan online. Some plans may immediately go into effect, but you'll need to check with your insurance provider.
The effective date determines when you coverage goes into effect and can protect you in terms of trip cancellation, delays, or missed connections.
Does travel insurance cover you straight away?
Travel insurance coverage may go into effect immediately after purchase, the next day, or up to 72 hours after purchase. Check with your insurance provider to find out when your coverage goes into effect!
Most travel insurance plans go into effect within 24 hours of purchase. If you have to purchase travel insurance after your departure, it's likely to take 48-72 hours for your coverage to kick in.
So, How Do You Know When to Buy Travel Insurance?
You’ll know it’s high time to buy travel insurance once you’ve booked and prepaid or made your first deposit on your trip. If you want to know when to buy travel insurance, just consider it the final step in your trip-booking process.
You don’t want to buy travel insurance too early – before you’ve finished booking all the reservations, events, and tickets for your trip.
Since travel insurance is based on the total trip cost, you want everything lined up and reserved before you get insurance to cover it.
If you buy your insurance before fully booking your trip, any reservations you book afterward may be out of the coverage umbrella.
You also don’t want to buy travel insurance too late – mere days before your trip is scheduled to begin.
Buying insurance too close (less than 2 days) before your planned departure date limits your cancellation coverage and might prevent you from getting trip cancellation insurance at all.
Some travel insurance companies only offer emergency travel medical insurance as a last-minute coverage option.
So the sweet spot when it comes to when to buy travel insurance is right after you’ve booked your trip in full or after making your first trip deposit.
You’ll get the broadest window of protection for trip cancellation this way, so no matter what comes up to derail your trip – inclement weather, cancelled/delayed flights, or a sudden illness, injury, or death – you’ll be covered and reimbursed.