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Having travel insurance is a useful way to protect yourself against a potential unexpected situation. Even if you plan your trip well, you never know when something may go wrong. With travel insurance coverage, you can get financial reimbursement if your plans don’t work out as you expect.
The short answer is that you cannot buy travel insurance at the airport.
In this article, we’ll help you understand what options you have to purchase travel insurance so you’re prepared for your next trip.
Reality: You must get insurance before your trip begins
In most cases, you’re able to buy travel insurance up until the day before you leave for your trip, which gives you a lot of time to buy. When you book a flight, hotel or make other travel arrangements, you may see the option to add insurance coverage before finalizing your order and paying. Even if you decline this coverage, you can buy insurance separately from another insurance provider.
Can you add travel insurance after booking flights? Yes; however, you’ll want to make sure that you do it 24 hours before your trip so you have the right coverage and get the benefits that you need.
Look at any travel rewards credit cards that you have to see what insurance coverage they might offer. Though a start, many of these insurance policies have limitations and restrictions in place. It can be a smart idea to purchase additional travel insurance coverage to cover any gaps.
» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance
When is it too late to buy travel insurance?
There are a few situations where it’s too late to buy travel insurance coverage:
If your trip has already started.
If it’s the morning of the day of travel and you still haven’t purchased a policy.
If you’ve already arrived at the airport and are about to take off.
You may be able to buy a travel medical insurance policy after your trip departure. Some, but not all insurance providers, will offer this option. While this won’t be a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy, it can still give you more peace of mind as you vacation.
Don’t wait until you get to the airport
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy a comprehensive travel insurance policy at the airport since most policies require you to buy coverage at least a day before the start of your trip.
If you wait until you’re ready to check your bags to buy insurance coverage, you've waited too long. Luckily, it’s easy and straightforward to get travel insurance, so there’s no need to wait and put it off. Plus, travel insurance isn't generally sold at the airport because it needs to be purchased in advance. You'll need to find an online travel insurance company to purchase a policy from.
» Learn more: Does travel insurance cover award flights?
The best time to buy travel insurance
It can be stressful to shop around and compare rates and coverage hours before your trip begins. Instead, we recommend buying in advance. The earlier you buy, the better off you’ll be.
When you purchase coverage early, your policy may include additional features, which can be time-sensitive benefits. For example, cancel for any reason coverage may be available only to travelers who purchase an insurance policy within a certain number of days from the initial trip deposit or booking. Buying a travel insurance policy earlier can allow you to maximize the issuance benefits that are available to you.
Here are some policy features that may not be available if you don’t buy travel insurance early:
Cancel for work reasons: This coverage may be included in some policies and can offer reimbursement to travelers who need to cancel their trip because of unforeseen work issues. Typically, this coverage must be purchased within 14-30 days after the initial trip deposit or first booking.
Cancel for any reason: Some policies may include CFAR coverage, which offers partial reimbursement for both prepaid and nonrefundable trip payments if a trip is canceled for a reason that isn't covered elsewhere on the policy. Typically, this coverage must be purchased within 14-21 days of booking or making the first payment on the trip. Some policies may be more lenient.
Pre-existing condition waiver: Some policies may include pre-existing conditions if you purchase your travel insurance shortly after booking your trip or making a deposit, typically within 14-30 days of booking.
When you start shopping around early, you can compare policies and benefits more comprehensively to find the right insurance for your trip needs.
Where to buy travel insurance
You can easily buy travel insurance online from the comfort of home. Using an online travel insurance comparison tool, like SquareMouth, is recommended. These insurance comparison websites make it easy to compare providers, prices and policy features all in one place. It takes only a couple of minutes to get a quote.
If you go to any insurance company website and buy the first policy you see, you may overspend for coverage. You also run the risk of not getting the policy that you need. Always give yourself time to compare options.
Travel insurance can be a wise investment
Buying travel insurance can be a good idea to cover nonrefundable trip costs. If you want to be covered and protect yourself against unforeseen events, it’s best to purchase travel insurance as early as your trip booking. This way, you can get a comprehensive policy that includes the coverage you need. An insurance comparison tool can be a useful guide for your decision-making, too.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card