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Can You Buy Travel Insurance After Departure?


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When you’re caught up in the logistics of booking your flights, finding accommodation or arranging transport to and from activities, travel insurance can easily slip your mind. But getting travel insurance is vital, especially if you plan on travelling for more than a few weeks. So what do you do? 

Don’t worry! There are several travel insurance options available after your flight leaves. If you’re already abroad/away and worry about medical issues, losing your luggage, or needing emergency evacuation, you’ve got options to keep you covered. 

In this guide, we outline what to do if you need last-minute travel insurance for your trip. Read on to learn about your options, what to consider before buying a premium, and our best tips for affordable last-minute travel insurance.

How Does Post-Departure Travel Insurance Work?

You can get post-departure travel insurance from specific insurance companies. Not all travel insurance companies will allow it, but there will be one or two with this option. In most cases, the coverage you get after departure does not include trip cancellation coverage. However, you can still get medical cover, baggage protection, or medical evacuation cover. 

Keep in mind that you cannot purchase travel medical emergency cover if you’re already sick. This is something you will have to get ahead of time as a precautionary measure. 

Travel Insurance Options After Departure

While there are multiple last-minute travel insurance packages available, keep in mind that some of them may have specific limitations and different terms and conditions. Below is a summary of what you’ll usually get with post-departure trip insurance:

Trip cancellation insuranceNo
Cancel for any reason (CFAR) insuranceNo
Trip interruption insuranceYes
Pre-existing medical conditions coverNo (needs to be bought three weeks in advance)
Trip delay insuranceYes
Medical expenses coverYes
Baggage coverYes
Emergency medical evacuationYes

The reason post-departure travel insurance does not include trip cancellation coverage is obvious – If you’re already on the way, you cannot claim for a cancelled trip. However, you can still get trip interruption coverage, which can reimburse you for missed experiences and travel back if your trip gets interrupted by an unexpected event. 

Overall, if you buy post-departure travel insurance your coverage will be less comprehensive, and they will exclude certain benefits, such as pre-existing medical conditions coverage. This means that if you have an underlying medical condition and it flares up during your journey, you won’t be able to file a claim. 

Another common issue with waiting to purchase your travel insurance is that you’ll most likely pay more for your premium, however, this isn’t always the case. Trip interruption insurance can be costly, so excluding that from your coverage may actually save you money.

What To Consider Before Buying Last-Minute Travel Insurance

If you’re looking for travel insurance halfway through your journey and don’t know where to begin or what to look out for, here are a few things to consider before settling for an option that suits you:

  • Level of coverage: Consider the activities you have planned, where you want to go, and what sort of issues you expect to encounter. If you’re going to a crowded country, you might get sick more often. In this case, your coverage needs to include medical emergencies.
  • Effective date: All insurance policies have a date by which they become active. Keep an eye on this before you start your coverage, and make sure it’s early enough to suit your needs. If you need to make a trip interruption claim, there will be time-sensitive requirements based on when the issue started and when your policy started.
  • Coverage limits: Even if you get cover, make sure it’s sufficient. For example, some countries have expensive healthcare, so having high enough coverage limits is a must.
  • Deductibles: Most policies will include a deductible, meaning, you need to pay a certain sum before insurance can kick in. Make sure your deductible isn’t too high to be reasonable.
  • Exclusions: As mentioned above, most post-departure travel insurance does not cover pre-existing medical conditions. There may be other exclusions as well, most commonly, exclusions are based on how predictable the circumstances were. If a known hurricane is on the way, for example, most travel insurance will not cover events linked to the hurricane as it was not unforeseen.
  • Documentation: Remember to have your documents ready, such as flight tickets, proof of accommodation, and any relevant medical history.

As usual, always read the fine print of any insurance policy. While post-departure travel insurance will still cover you sufficiently, it may leave out features found in normal travel insurance policies

Tips For Getting The Best Travel Insurance Coverage After Departure

If you’re cost-conscious, we’ve compiled a few tips on how to get the best last-minute travel insurance deals possible: 

  • Compare quotes: Even if you have limited options, you may be able to save a little bit here and there. However, don’t always go for the cheapest option. You may be missing out on valuable coverage.
  • Read the fine print: Read the terms and conditions of the policy before purchasing it. This will ensure you know what you’re covered for and for how long.
  • Act quickly: The sooner, the better. If you wait too long, you might encounter an issue such as missing baggage, the flu, or a delayed flight. You won’t be eligible for insurance if you’re trying to deal with an existing issue.
  • Be honest: Your insurers want to know of any pre-existing issues, when you booked your trip, where you’re going, and anything else relevant. Failure to disclose vital information can result in your claim being denied.
  • Consider additional coverage: Since you’re excluded from trip cancellation insurance, your premium is likely to be a lot cheaper compared to premiums with it. In this case, consider adding additional coverage such as rental car insurance or adventure sports coverage. This can help you get a bit more coverage in the same policy.
  • Keep the paperwork: If you’ve purchased your policy, remember to hang onto any documents related to claims, such as medical bills and receipts.

The last step is particularly important if you need to make a claim. All insurance providers need proof to complete your claims process, so keep everything you can and take photos (if necessary) to help you get through the claim stress-free.

What To Do If You Need To Make A Travel Insurance Claim?

Whether you bought regular travel insurance or got it last minute or post-departure, the process is generally the same for all three. The basic steps are as follows:

Double-check your insurance policy: Before starting the claims process, make sure you know what your insurance provider will cover.

Contact your insurance provider: This may be tougher to do if you’re travelling and don’t have your usual phone number. Many insurers have a website, email address, or online chat to help you start the claims process or make an inquiry. If you cannot call them, reach out via whatever method is most accessible.

Get the documentation ready: If you haven’t sent your insurer the evidence already, make sure to have your documentation ready for when they reply to your claim request. It can be easy to freak out during an emergency but try to take photos and keep the paperwork so you can deal with the finances later.

Follow the claims process: The claims process will differ based on the insurance provider. Remember to remain polite, fill out any forms, and provide extra information when asked. If your claim is related to medical issues, you may need to submit to a medical exam.

Keep records: Throughout the claims process, keep track of emails, letters, or phone calls. This can help you keep track of your claim and help you in case disputes arise. 

Remember, claims take time. Even if you bought your policy last minute, you will likely wait a few weeks to get reimbursed for any issues you encounter while travelling. If you’re covered for the issue and have sufficient evidence, your insurer has to cover you. 

Final Thoughts

While we recommend getting travel insurance before your trip, we also understand that life happens. Sometimes even the most organized individual can make a mistake in their trip planning. Whether you’re already en route to your destination or have already arrived but forgot to secure travel insurance, don’t fret. You likely have options available to protect yourself and your trip. Just be sure to research and compare policies to find the best one for you.

Ultimately travel insurance protects you against the unexpected. Investing in it can help you relax knowing that, whatever happens, you’ll be covered. 

Safe Travels!

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Author Bio

Mohamed Konate

Mohamed Konate is a personal finance expert, blogger, and marketing consultant based out of Toronto. He is a former financial services professional who worked for many years at major Canadian financial institutions where he managed the marketing strategy around various financial products ranging from credit cards to lines of credit. Mohamed is passionate about personal finance and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Quebec (Montreal) and a Master in International Business from the University of Sherbrooke (Quebec).He is also the author of the Canadian Credit Card Guidebook.