When Should Clients Buy Travel Insurance?

  • Originally published June 23, 2015 , last updated December 19, 2017
When Should Clients Buy Travel Insurance?

So many travelers assume that if they want travel insurance their only option is to take the policy the travel supplier or travel agent is offering at the time they book their trip. Some companies go so far as to say, “you must take the travel insurance now. If you decline this coverage, you cannot add it on later.” That’s a pretty good scare tactic — but it’s not true. Many of these customers are paying too much for travel insurance.

You can insure any prepaid nonrefundable trip cost (even the ones you’ve booked yourself) out on the open travel insurance market. Just as clients shop around for the perfect trip, they should shop around for travel insurance. That’s where Travel Insurance Center comes in — we do the legwork for your clients or for you! We are contracted with the top insurance companies in the industry and are dedicated to finding clients the travel protection plan that does what they need it to do for the best price. Whether their goal is trip cancellation protection due to serious illness or injury, or emergency medical evacuation from overseas to a hospital near their residence, our promise is the policy we recommend will be the same one we would recommend to any of our own family members.

So back to the original question: when should your clients buy travel insurance? To help clients answer this, we’d ask them a few questions.

Do you have any concerns regarding pre-existing medical conditions for you, family members traveling with you, travel companions, or nontraveling family members?
Why do we ask this? Because many travel protection policies offer a waiver of the pre-existing medical conditions exclusion clause if the client buys the travel insurance within a certain number of days — 14 to 21 days is common — and insure the full prepaid nonrefundable cost of the trip. That waiver applies to travelers and to nontraveling family members as well. It’s sort of a “reward” for giving the insurance company money now, but it’s certainly something your clients should do if they have any doubts about pre-existing medical conditions at all.

Note: Many policies include bankruptcy protection of a travel supplier if your clients buy the insurance within their time window as well.

What’s your risk tolerance level, or the amount you’d want to recover should something cancel the trip?
Why do we ask this? Given that your client has no concerns regarding pre-existing medical conditions and doubt that the travel supplier is in financial trouble, he or she can purchase travel insurance up until the day before his or her departure date. However, if the client does want trip cancellation coverage, it makes sense to buy travel insurance once he or she has reached his or her personal trip cost risk tolerance level. While many people buy their insurance when they make their final lump sum payment, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to when someone might want to purchase travel insurance, because everybody’s risk tolerance level is different.

Some customers call because they forgot to get their travel insurance and ask, “is it too late?” It’s only too late to buy a trip protection plan if they’ve already left on their trip, and in those cases we do have medical coverage including medical evacuation available for those travelers.

Do you want medical insurance coverage?
While your clients may not need trip cancellation or trip interruption coverage, you may want to make sure they have good medical insurance coverage, including emergency medical evacuation. We call this “$0 trip cost insured/post-departure coverage.”

We would ask if they want medical insurance coverage because it can influence when they should buy travel insurance. They may purchase a travel protection policy at any time up to the day before their departure date. Policies are delivered via email. Encourage your client to print out the purchase confirmation.

One important note: Travelex’s Travel Select and Travel Max policies offer the pre-existing medical conditions exclusion waiver even if your client does not insure the trip cost ($0 trip cost insured / post-departure coverage). To receive the Travel Select pre-existing conditions waiver, your client would need to purchase the plan 21 days or less from his or her initial trip deposit or payment. For Travel Max, that window is 30 days.

Travel Insurance Center can answer your clients’ questions on when to buy travel insurance, and if they do buy a policy, you earn a commission — if you’re an affiliate! Sign up for our Travel Insurance Center affiliate program.