Buy travel insurance online in as little as 1 minute.
The Internet has opened up a whole range of buying opportunities, from movies and music to clothes, wine and car parts. And now insurance can also be purchased on the Internet, thanks to the increase in online comparison sites that allow you to compare policies from different providers.
Gone are the days of phoning around insurance companies and repeating the same information over and over and even waiting for quotes to arrive in the mail. Now a few mouse clicks or screen taps are all you need to apply directly to the insurer and receive almost instant coverage online.
Travel insurance is one such insurance that’s easy to purchase online and this article looks at how to do it, how to compare policies and providers and how to make sure that the cover you buy is adequate for your needs.
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Why should I look for travel insurance online?
There are a range of benefits associated with buying travel insurance online. These include:
- Cost savings – travel agents and airlines take a commission from the policies they sell, so buying online allows you to cut out the middle-man and buy insurance at a discounted price.
- Convenience – as mentioned previously, the Internet lets you search, compare, apply, be accepted and pay for travel insurance all with the click of a button.
- Accuracy – because online insurance premiums are system-generated, instances of human error are removed and you are more likely to receive an accurately calculated premium.
- Choice – because online comparison sites bring many different insurers and policies together for you to compare, your choice is much wider than it would otherwise be if you were researching travel insurance on your own.
- Transparency – because prices are online for everyone to access, there is more transparency between insurers and less opportunities for unscrupulous providers.
- Assistance – online sites provide more assistance and in more ways than ever before. When comparing insurance, you can contact the comparison site for help and information, an online insurance broker or the insurer themselves and you can do it via email, live chat or phone.
Buying insurance online vs a using travel agent
When you book a holiday, it’s very easy to let your travel agent or airline take care of your travel insurance as well as your bookings. You’re right there, they have everything you need and you may as well get it all sorted at the same time.
Unfortunately, when you do that, chances are you are going to pay more for that insurance than would otherwise be the case. CHOICE Magazine estimated that in 2008, the average travel agent was receiving up to 50% of a premium in commission. That’s quite a hefty sum and even though travel industry associations now say that is no longer the case, some form of commission still applies and will see you paying more for your policy (up to 20% more) than if you bought it online.
Buying your travel insurance online direct from the insurer may be a better way to buy travel insurance because:
- You know you are getting the specific coverage you need from an insurance specialist, rather than general cover from a one-size-fits-all policy that a travel agent may be paid to promote.
- You know you are paying the best price for your cover, as online insurers do not have the same overheads to pass on as travel agents and tour operators do and no commissions are being paid.
- You can be confident in the ability of your insurer to pay in the event of a claim, as insurers are subject to strict standards of accountability, whereas the credentials of an insurer recommended by your travel agent may be harder to verify.
How to use online comparison sites
Travel insurance comparison sites are the most efficient and convenient way to find, compare and buy travel insurance. They take all the legwork out of having to search the Internet and visit and research individual insurance websites. Everything is brought together for you in one convenient place.
You need to use them wisely and be aware that some comparison sites are not as impartial as they would have you believe. Some receive fees for every policy bought through their site, some only feature those insurers they have relationships with and some are even owned and run by insurance companies, so you need to do a little research on the comparison sites themselves before taking what they offer as the best deal.
A good way to do this is to visit their About Us page and read their company history and credentials, looking for how long they have been in business, what their affiliations are and how they make their money.
Concentrate on what your own priorities are. These should be related to where you are travelling, what you will be doing while on holiday, the luggage you will be taking with you and what non-refundable deposits and payments you will be making prior to your trip.Back to top
How to buy travel insurance online
There are some important steps to take before you reach the stage of clicking on a policy to buy it. First and foremost, you should decide exactly what coverage you will need, based on a number of factors. These include:
- the type and duration of the holiday you are taking
- the number of people who are travelling (e.g. alone or with a family group)
- what you will be doing on holiday (e.g. whether you will be doing any extreme or adventurous sports or activities)
- what you are likely to encounter in the country you are travelling to (e.g. health care system, political stability and prevalence of crime).
That way, when you come to compare several seemingly similar policies, you will know exactly whether they are suited to your needs or not.
It would also be beneficial to do some general online research, familiarising yourself with the terms insurers use in their policies and reading some of the many online articles about travel insurance.
When you have found several policies that seem to fit your needs, then it’s time to get quotes. These may already be available to you if you are using a comparison website, or alternatively, you can apply directly to the insurer for a quote. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at this stage from the comparison site and the insurer’s customer service agents.
Once all your questions have been satisfactorily answered, the actual process of buying travel insurance online is fairly straightforward. You simply fill out an online application form, make a secure online payment once you are accepted and then download your policy or wait for it to be sent to you in the mail.Back to top
Tips to make your life easier
Getting the best online deal for travel insurance is about doing your research, finding the best comparison source and then narrowing your search through a process of elimination. There are things you need to look out for however and the following are some useful tips to keep in mind:
- Read the fine print – every policy contains exclusions that will restrict the level of coverage provided, so read the policy from cover to cover before you sign.
- Declare pre-existing medical conditions – if you have any medical conditions that might require treatment while you are on holiday, make sure you declare them or you won’t be covered.
- Give yourself plenty of time – don’t leave travel insurance till the last minute. Take out a policy at least a week before you leave on holiday so you are not making any rushed decisions.
- Take your policy with you – print out your policy if electronic and take a copy with you on holiday, or at least important details such as policy number and emergency contact numbers.
- Cover your electronics – make sure the benefit for lost or stolen luggage is sufficient to pay for replacement electronics such as iPhones, cameras and laptops. If it isn’t (which is often the case), take out additional cover.
How to choose a travel insurance policy
Once you have several policies in front of you that all seem to suit your requirements, it’s time to apply a final checklist to narrow your selection down to that one perfect policy. The policy you finally opt for should have a big tick against each of the following criteria:
- sufficient limits to cover medical expenses, lost luggage and trip cancellations
- cover in every country you plan to visit
- cover for any adventurous activities you plan to pursue
- cover for valuable belongings such as electronics
- cover for pre-existing medical conditions
- affordable excess (amount you must pay when making a claim)
- affordable price that reflects the cover provided.