When is the best time to buy travel insurance?

In many ways, booking travel insurance is like doing the dishes after a nice meal. It isn't particularly appealing—if most of us acted on impulse alone, we'd forego the task until much later, proceeding to flop on the couch and enter into a food coma—but it is highly, highly advisable. Just as leaving dirty dishes piled up will lead to a messy kitchen, leaving travel insurance entirely un-booked will usher in its own set of consequences.

Let's take a look at what those might be.

Losing out on time-sensitive benefits

Many insurers have strict rules regarding what they have dubbed as time-sensitive benefits. These are aspects of a travel insurance policy that will only be eligible for inclusion in the coverage if they are purchased very soon after the first booking payment for the trip is made.

The period during which they remain obtainable will differ by insurer. For most, the window of availability stays open for anywhere from 10-21 days.

One of the common benefits is the waiving of the pre-existing conditions exclusion. Since many travelers do have some sort of medical history that would fit into an insurer's definition of a pre-existing condition, this is a vital benefit to be aware of. Another one is the cancel for any reason clause. This allows policyholders to cancel their trip for literally any reason and still be able to be reimbursed as they would for one of the standard reasons for cancellation. With life being the unpredictable force that it is, this can really come in handy. There's also bankruptcy of supplier protection, which gives travelers a nice safety net in the event that one of the other parties involved in the booking fails to hold up its end of the deal because of financial issues.

Not having trip cancellation for as long as possible

Cancel for any reason benefits were brought up in the previous section, but having the regular trip cancellation coverage activated as soon as possible too is also important for any traveler. Without trip cancellation insurance, a traveler could be left with no way to receive reimbursement in the event that he or she is no longer able to take the trip that was booked.

This could happen for a variety of reasons: dangerous weather conditions, a travel advisory warning, a work emergency, jury duty, etc. There's no sense in waiting on picking up trip cancellation insurance. It's never too early guard yourself against the unexpected.

Emergency health coverage can actually wait

With the exception of those looking to capitalize on the waiving of pre-existing condition exclusions, emergency health coverage is actually one aspect of travel insurance that can be purchased well after the trip is booked. Realistically, it can be booked any time before the leaving the province, and still give the traveler comprehensive coverage. Regardless of when that booking happens, it's  important for policyholders to be completely honest about their medical circumstances, even if that means getting in touch with the company and updating them on any key changes in health that have taken place between purchasing the policy and the departure dates.