How and When to buy
Where To Buy
You purchase travel insurance for international trips through an insurer in your country of residence, which means the country to which you’d want to be evacuated to or return to after a serious medical emergency and/or the country you’d need to travel to if a family member became very ill (these are assumed to be the same country).
If travelling within your country of residence, you can buy cheaper domestic travel insurance within that country, but you may decide that you do not need it at all if you are willing to risk losing costs associated with cancellations and so on. This may be true especially for Canadians travelling to the US where more options may be available after having crossed the border.
You can obtain travel insurance through your travel agent, your normal insurers, or any one of a number of specialist travel insurers. Travel agents sometimes selloverpriced policies as you are something of a captive audience. Shop around. Because travel insurance policies are somewhat interchangeable, there are a number of websites where you can compare policy costs. This article does not list specific insurers as they are both numerous and country-specific where based.
Sometimes you may be insured via an existing deal. Some credit card companies insure any trip you take as long as you buy the tickets on a particular credit card. Business travellers may be covered by a company-wide insurance policy, but if you intend to take any sides trips or have a personal holiday, check the coverage: usually personal holidays on the side must be of a fairly short length to be covered by a business policy. Be sure to check any “existing deal” carefully and ideally get confirmation in writing of your coverage. Credit card insurance deals, for example, often offer just basic coverage, and may be invalidated for travelers who paid travel deposits in cash rather than using the card.
If a member of a travel association or large professional group, you may find that it offers or endorses an insurance provider that provides extra coverage or better rates. Failing that, you may find coverage through on-line search. But take care that the company has a good reputation, e.g., from friends/family that have had to file claims, or local travel agents (mere on-line reviews/ratings may not be genuine).
Very regular travellers may find that “ongoing” or “periodic” travel coverage, typically purchased a year at a time, can be cheaper than insuring each trip individually. Most major travel insurers offer such policies. Large businesses often purchase such coverage for their key or frequent travelers.
When To Buy
Some travel agents will offer travel insurance when you book travel, but you can purchase travel insurance between then and shortly before you depart. However, if you have a “pre-existing condition” you need covered, you need to purchase coverage promptly, for some insurers within 2-3 days, others within 10-14 days of firstbooking (not final purchase of) the travel. Otherwise, between the booking and departure date or anytime during travel, if you are injured, become ill or have other reason disallowing or cutting short your travel, you’re out of luck. Virtually all policies list the specific risks any covers. An insurer may offer different policies for different levels of coverage. Or particularly costly risks may be offered under extra-cost options. Carefully examine all to suit your needs. After noting the discussions throughout this article, consider the coverage tables below as typical examples.
As you buy, the number and age of travelers, plus the total known and estimated costs of the trip will primarily determine the cost of insurance, though other factors influence it. Do not understate any facts as you apply for/purchase a policy (e.g., , understate travelers’ ages, only count the air travel you’ve booked); your claim for reimbursement for some “covered” cost may be denied.
What To Buy
There are two major classes of travel insurance:
- International travel insurance, covering travel outside your country of residence. This is an essential part of international trips because many healthcare arrangements won’t apply in other countries (except EU nationals seeking medical attention in other EU states) and you either need insurance or to be able to pay all medical bills out of pocket; and
- Domestic travel insurance, covering travel inside your country of residence. These policies are generally cheaper than international policies because they usually don’t include medical coverage–in your own country, you presumably have other arrangements. They focus on compensating you for purely travel-related problems like cancellations and closures. They are also much less essential and you can consider their worth on a trip-by-trip basis. When buying travel insurance, you should review the dates of coverage (include the day you leave and the day you arrive home plus a day or two for delays), that it covers what you need, and the exclusions.
As you digest the kinds of coverage discussed below, you may discover that you only need one or a few types, e.g., “Medevac” (medical evacuation) from a trip location very far from home. With some research, you should be able to find separate coverage for each. If you need many types of coverage, you’ll likely want an integrated policy that offers many kinds of “protection”, some of which you may not need. But its cost is likely to be significantly better than separately buying all that you need.