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When to buy travel insurance

When should you buy travel insurance? The sooner, the better.

The old saying “the early bird catches the worm” has never been truer than when purchasing travel insurance. Getting travel insurance early could potentially save you thousands of dollars.

When is the best time to take out travel insurance?

Many people leave getting travel insurance until the last minute, but this can have dire consequences if the unexpected happens. We've seen that almost 30% of Finder users are leaving getting travel insurance until too late, waiting until 2 weeks prior to their departure before looking for cover.

So when should you take out travel insurance? When you book your trip.

If your travel insurance includes cancellation cover, you are protected if you are forced to cancel your holiday prior to departure.

A lot can go wrong in the days and weeks between booking your travel, and actually heading off. Any of the following unexpected events could occur:

  • Injury, illness or death of you, a travelling companion or a relative
  • A disaster at home such as a flood, fire or burglary
  • Becoming pregnant and being unfit to travel due to complications
  • As a member of the armed forces, being suddenly posted elsewhere in Australia or overseas
  • Being made redundant from your job
  • Being called on to appear in court or serve as a juror
  • Flight delays or cancellations
  • Sudden political unrest, making your destination unsafe
  • Extreme weather events or a natural disaster in your destination country

The good news is that if you purchased travel insurance with cancellation cover prior to any of these unexpected events, you will be able to claim for all prepaid and non-refundable travel expenses up to the benefit limit of your policy.

Compare your travel options before it's too late

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Travel insurance: When to buy and how to save

When can you claim for cancellation cover?

Cancellation cover is a basic component of any good travel insurance policy. It covers lost deposits and cancellation fees for prepaid travel arrangements incurred due to unforeseen circumstances. Most cancellation policies will cover costs associated with the cancellation of:

  • Pre-booked flights. The price of the ticket minus any refund supplied by the airline.
  • Accommodation. Prepaid accommodation or cancellation charges.
  • Hire equipment. Prebooked hire equipment such as ski gear or a rental vehicle.
  • Holiday activities. Prebooked activities such as bungee jumping or a fishing trip.

The thing to remember with cancellation cover is that it doesn’t cover every eventuality (for example, cancellations resulting from your own negligence) and it only covers you up to the benefit limit of the policy, which is why it’s important to always read the Product Disclosure Statement carefully when purchasing your travel insurance.

When are people taking out cover?

We analysed when our users were looking for cover and found that while the majority of people were getting travel insurance in advance, many are still leaving it far too late.

When are people taking out cover?Percentage
On the day of travel or already overseas2.18%
1 week before departure18.97%
2 weeks before departure11.20%
Number of months prior to travelling
On the day of travel or already overseas2.18%
1 month46.89%
2 months19.43%
3 months9.58%
4 months5.89%
5 months4.66%
6 months2.73%
7 months1.66%
8 months1.91%
9 months1.63%
10 months1.61%
11 months0.95%
1 year0.82%
More than a year0.06%

Example: The importance of cancellation cover

Andrew and Sue were off on the trip of a lifetime. They planned to holiday in China and Japan before heading for Europe and the UK to visit Sue's relatives in Scotland. They managed to get a great deal on flights and accommodation, but thought the travel insurance the travel agent was selling was a bit overpriced. They figured that they would assess their options and get cover later.

But they didn't.

3 days before their departure date, Andrew's mother was hospitalised with a serious illness, meaning they had to cancel their trip. When they approached the travel agent, he informed them that their pre-booked airfares and accommodation were non-refundable (the reason the package was so cheap).

Because they hadn't taken out travel insurance, Andrew and Sue found themselves with no holiday and out of pocket to the tune of $11,500.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

Get covered now

Cancellations make up a large proportion of the claims processed by travel insurers and thinking that it won’t happen to you could turn out to be a very costly mistake. Make sure you take out travel insurance as soon as possible.

Apply for cover now

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    IrynaDecember 11, 2018


    Just an question. Can I purchase travel insurance without the booking tickets? We haven’t book yet, but planning to go overseas in May, to my country, to Ukraine. But, because my husband is not Ukrainian, he needs to provide travel insurance cover for Ukrainian Embassy in Australia to apply for a visa.

    Thank you.


      JeniDecember 16, 2018Finder

      Hi Iryna,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Yes, you may get a travel insurance even if you are not booked yet so long that you have the dates when you’re flying. Please note that when you’re getting a travel insurance you need to provide your destination, dates and age of traveler/s. I suggest that you speak with your chosen insurer regarding your visa requirement so they could give you other options on your travel insurance needs.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


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