family traveling

Comparing and choosing travel insurance coverage can be confusing. There are conditions, restrictions and exclusions, as well as various benefits with limits that may or may not apply to your situation. The following tips about the travel insurance buying process can help you make an informed decision.

When to buy travel insurance

Travel insurance should be purchased soon after booking your travel – ideally after making your initial trip deposit or when planning your travel calendar for the year. Travel insurance generally only requires you to answer a few questions – like where you’re going and when, how much your trip costs, how old are you and where do you live – so it’s easy to get a quote online.

You can purchase coverage for a single trip or a full year of travel, quickly and easily whether you are travelling internationally or domestically.

Also, be aware that when planning whether or not to purchase travel insurance, you must wait at least 24 hours before the trip cancellation coverage takes effect.

Pick the trip insurance policy that’s right for you

When choosing a travel insurance plan, decide which options are most important for your specific trip – and make sure the benefit limits are adequate.

For instance, if you and your family are going to the Gulf Coast in September, your three most important travel insurance criteria may be:

  • Cancellation coverage because of a hurricane
  • Emergency Medical evacuation coverage of at least $100,000
  • Missed connection coverage

Take a look at the travel insurance policy fine print

The policy certificate includes details of exactly what's covered, including reasons for cancellations and coverage exclusions. Make sure you read and understand the policy certificate, so you’ll know what’s included and excluded and there are no surprises. You should also have a copy with you during the trip, if something should happen and you need to file a claim. It’s important to remember that not all travel insurance benefits are available in all states.

Understand pre-existing condition exclusions

Many plans have an exclusion for medical conditions that you have before your trip (pre-existing) that may cause you to have a claim. This exclusion may also be waived if you meet a few criteria, such as:

  • The insurance is purchased soon after the initial trip deposit.
  • You are insured for the full trip cost.
  • You are medically cleared for travel.

Travel insurance refund policies

A free look period is guaranteed by all insurance companies. During this time (typically 10 to 15 days), travelers can review their policies and are eligible for a full refund – minus a small administrative fee (typically $5 to $8) but only in states where permitted.

Financial ratings

When comparing travel insurance companies, you want to make sure your insurance company has the financial backing to pay its claims. If you don't have time to read a company’s annual report, take a look at the company's ratings from independent rating agencies like A.M. Best, S&P and Moody’s.

To start the travel insurance purchase process, browse our trip insurance policies, which include single-trip, annual (multi-trip) and even cruise plans. Learn more and get a quote in minutes from Nationwide.