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When you are getting ready for a trip there are thousands of things to do. If you are a planner like me, you get knee deep in working out the ideal itinerary, things to do and places to stay that sometimes you forget one very important thing – travel insurance.
Don’t worry, we’ve all done it. And luckily there is a solution. You can buy last minute travel insurance online easily with many travel insurance providers. They may even cover you if you have already started your trip.
Why you need travel insurance
If you are considering traveling without insurance, you need to think again. Travel insurance is as important as carrying your passport in my opinion. It’s also the opinion of most governments who will not bail out their citizens financially in a medical emergency.
Yes most of the things that go wrong on a trip can be handled within your trip budget. Flight cancelation, lost luggage and minor illnesses where you need a trip to the pharmacy are minor inconveniences.
But, here’s the thing. If you do become seriously ill or need to be evacuated from a foreign country for medical reasons, costs can escalate rapidly. Often they can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. On top of this, in some countries, costs for medical treatment exceed $USD 10,000 per day.
Now that’s a few more trips you are going to miss out on should you have to find that kind of cash. Chances are you may never need to claim on your insurance for this reason, but it is good to know that your back is covered.
What is covered by travel insurance
Here is a reminder of the usual things that are covered by a trip insurance policy.
Of course coverage, cost and exclusions apply depending on the provider you choose so it pays to read the policy documents and terms and conditions carefully prior to buying travel insurance.
- Medical emergencies and evacuation – coverage if you need to be treated in hospital or evacuated to your home country for medical reasons.
- Trip cancelation – if you need to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness or the death of a loved one, some insurance companies will cover your pre-booked costs
- Luggage and belongings – coverage if your belongings are delayed, lost in transit or stolen. You will need to take reasonable care of your stuff. Claims are often rejected when people have been careless with their expensive items ie have not left them in a secure place
- Personal liability – covers you in the event of an accident that results in bodily injury or property damage that you are held legally responsible for. This is not coverage for driving a rental car – please check your policy carefully
- Trip interruption – if you need to return home due to illness or an emergency at home, this will help you recover some of your prepaid costs.
Don’t forget to read the policy documents and coverage statements carefully
In particular, look for what countries are covered (and excluded) and the types of activities that are covered.
For example, many insurance companies do not cover activities they deem to be adventure activities as part of their standard policies. You need to pay extra to cover your horse riding or sea kayak adventure.
When should you buy travel insurance?
The best time to buy travel insurance is as soon as you have paid your trip deposit or booked your flights and transport arrangements.
Can you buy travel insurance after booking a flight? Yes you can. Just do it as your next step. This is because coverage starts the moment the insurance is purchased.
Here are some of the coverage types that require early purchase of insurance:
- Cancelation for any reason
- Cancelation for employment/work conflict reasons
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Financial default
Remember, you can’t claim for cancelations or things going wrong prior to buying travel insurance. An example is buying insurance to cover you for trip cancelation due to an existing natural disaster like a hurricane or volcano smoke cloud impacting your vacation. Your claim will be denied in this case because it was a known event.
Some travel insurance policies require that you purchase your plan within a certain number of days (usually 10-14) of making your initial trip deposit. Check the fine print carefully.
But, having said all that, if you are hours away from heading off on your trip then the likelihood is you won’t need coverage for trip cancelation.
So if you need last minute travel insurance, the timing is not as critical. The most important thing to be covered for is medical emergencies.
Where to buy last minute travel insurance
These days you can buy travel insurance online right up to your date of departure. At this time, things are usually pretty busy so it may not be the best time to review policy documents.
What if I already left on my trip?
If you had a face palm moment on the plane and realised that you forgot to get travel insurance all is not lost. You can organize insurance as soon as you have internet access. Better late than never I say. Then you can enjoy your vacation knowing that you finally got that item checked off your list.
Availability depends on your country of citizenship and residence so check through the details of the policy carefully before signing up. A short waiting period may apply before you can claim some items as an example.
Is the coverage different if you buy insurance just before or during your trip?
As I mentioned earlier, you would not be covered for cancelation of your trip prior to departure but that’s a moot point as you’re already on your way. In some cases there is a waiting period of example 3 days (72 hours) before the insurance takes effect. Otherwise the insurance offered is generally the same as if you bought it prior to departure.
Do thoroughly check and understand the policy you are buying first however as some exclusions apply depending on your nationality.
Have a safe and happy trip
I hope you have the information you need about last minute travel insurance to make an informed decision for your travels. Have an amazing trip, relaxed in the knowledge that your back is covered by your insurance policy. Safe travels!
PS – If you are traveling to Europe you might like to read our guide on why you need travel insurance for Italy
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