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Can I Buy Travel Insurance After Departure? [Costs, Coverage, and More]

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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The best time to buy travel insurance is shortly after you book your travel, but it’s still a good idea to buy travel insurance even if you’ve already started your trip.

While your coverage and policy options will be more limited than they would have been if you’d purchased travel insurance at — or soon after — booking, you can still get great travel insurance coverage when you’re already abroad.

Let’s explore your travel insurance options after departure and what’s covered.

How To Get Travel Insurance When You’re Already Abroad

You can buy travel insurance after departure. The trick is finding a travel insurance company that offers a post-departure policy. Most travel insurance companies only allow travel insurance purchases up to the day before departure. 

Still, some reputable travel insurance companies, such as Allianz Global Assistance and World Nomads, issue travel insurance after departure. If you’re simply looking for travel health insurance, Genki or SafetyWing are options, too.

Limitations of Post-Departure Travel Insurance

When you purchase travel insurance after departure, your coverage is limited. You should expect waiting periods, fewer policy choices, and less overall coverage than with travel insurance you buy at or shortly after booking.

Generally, post-departure travel insurance coverage focuses on medical emergencies, not trip cancellation or interruption benefits. And you’re not likely to get coverage for preexisting conditions, as most travel insurance companies only cover preexisting conditions if you buy coverage shortly after you start booking your trip.

Costs of Post-Departure Travel Insurance

How much you’ll pay for post-departure travel insurance depends on the travel insurance company, policy, coverages, and risk factors such as your age and destination. Expect to pay about $45 for a month of travel health insurance and $100 or more for a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes trip interruption, emergency medical, and other travel insurance benefits.

Options for Post-Departure Travel Insurance

Patient paying for medical visit
Post-departure travel insurance usually covers medical expenses. Image Credit: Hero Images via Adobe Stock

Comprehensive post-departure travel insurance plans are hard to come by, but you can generally get medical emergency travel insurance after your trip departure. Consider these post-departure travel insurance options:

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Travel Insurance PlanInsurance TypeWhat’s Covered
World Nomads Explorer or StandardComprehensive travel insuranceTrip cancellation or interruption, emergency medical treatment or evacuation, baggage delay or loss, rental car damage
Allianz Global Assistance OneTrip Emergency Medical PlanEmergency medical travel insuranceEmergency medical treatment or evacuation, trip delay, missed connection, baggage loss or delay, supplier or itinerary change
Genki ExplorerTravel health insuranceMedical treatment, including emergency medical transportation and sports injuries, limited dental and mental health treatment
SafetyWing Nomad InsuranceTravel health insuranceMedical treatment for unexpected illness or injuries, evacuation from local unrest, unplanned overnight stay, lost checked luggage

The only comprehensive post-departure travel insurance plan we could find is with World Nomads. With a World Nomads Explorer or Standard plan, you can get coverage for trip cancellation or interruption, emergency medical treatment or evacuation, baggage delay or loss, rental car damage, a 24-hour travel assistance hotline, and more.

While World Nomads offers comprehensive post-departure travel insurance, some benefits have a waiting period. For example, you may have to wait up to 24 hours for your trip cancellation benefit to become effective. However, you’re usually covered right away for medical benefits.

Allianz Global Assistance, in comparison, offers the OneTrip Emergency Medical Plan, which doesn’t insure the cost of your trip but offers emergency medical expense benefits and other post-departure coverages. Additional coverage benefits include trip delays, missed connections, baggage delays, and 24-hour emergency assistance.

Medical-Only Travel Insurance After Departure

Once you’ve reached your destination, you may be less concerned about trip cancellation but still want coverage for medical emergencies. You can get post-departure travel health insurance from providers including Genki and SafetyWing.

Genki’s travel health insurance is a monthly insurance subscription for up to 2 years designed for frequent travelers. With no citizenship or residency requirements, all travelers up to age 69 can get a Genki Explorer travel health insurance policy — even if you’re already traveling.

A Genki Explorer plan offers coverage for medical treatment, including emergency medical transportation and sports injuries, and limited dental and mental health treatment. However, there are exclusions: preexisting conditions, dangerous activities, professional sports, consequences of drug or excessive alcohol consumption, active participation in war, and medical tourism. There is no coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, flight delays, lost luggage, or other common travel insurance benefits beyond medical coverage.

Similar to Genki Explorer, SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance is good for 28 days at a time and is available for travelers up to 69 years old. You can buy it whether you’re at home or already traveling. You’re covered for medical costs anywhere outside of your home country except for sanctioned areas or countries.

SafetyWing Nomad Insurance covers unexpected illnesses or injuries, including eligible expenses for hospitals, doctors, and prescription drugs. It doesn’t cover routine checkups or preventive care, but it offers emergency travel-related benefits such as evacuation from local unrest, unplanned overnight stays, and lost checked luggage. 

Hot Tip:

Check your credit card’s travel insurance benefits. While credit card travel insurance generally offers limited coverage benefits when compared to comprehensive travel insurance plans, your credit card’s travel protection benefits may be competitive with post-departure travel insurance options.

Why It Might Make Sense To Buy Travel Insurance After Departure

Though it’s best to buy travel insurance soon after you book, and ideally before your trip starts, you can still get a lot of value from post-departure travel insurance. 

One of the most valuable aspects of travel insurance is coverage for medical emergencies, a benefit you’ll get with post-departure travel insurance. You can also take advantage of the insurance policy’s emergency medical evacuation benefit if you need it. And your post-departure travel insurance policy may offer additional benefits such as lost or delayed baggage coverage and 24-hour emergency assistance.

Pros of Buying Travel Insurance After Departure

  • You can still get valuable travel insurance coverage
  • Costly emergency medical expenses are covered
  • Some benefits are immediately active

Cons of Buying Travel Insurance After Departure

  • Waiting periods before some coverages become effective
  • No pre-departure benefits, including trip cancellation coverage
  • No time-sensitive benefits such as a preexisting condition waiver or cancel for any reason coverage

When Is It Too Late To Buy Travel Insurance?

As long as you’re on your trip, you can benefit from buying travel insurance. For example, if you’ve reached your destination, you might not benefit from trip cancellation coverage anymore, but you can still use your emergency medical benefits.

If you’re already on your trip and start to feel ill, then yes, it’s probably too late to get travel insurance that covers medical expenses for your illness. Or if you’re in the last few days of traveling and nearly home, you might decide it’s not worth having coverage for a short period — especially if insurance waiting periods limit how much time you’ll have active coverage.

Final Thoughts

Buying travel insurance soon after you book your travel gives you the most policy options, comprehensive coverage, and time-sensitive benefits. But if you’re already traveling and want to add travel insurance coverage, you still have worthy options, especially for emergency medical expenses.

Getting travel insurance post-departure is still a good idea because it can protect you during unexpected emergencies. But coverage limitations and waiting periods may apply, so be sure to read the fine print to understand what’s covered or not. And if you primarily seek emergency medical coverage, post-departure travel insurance can be valuable.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is it too late to buy travel insurance?

For some travel insurance providers, it’s too late to buy travel insurance once your trip has started, as many only allow you to purchase travel insurance up to a day before departure. However, some travel insurance companies do offer post-departure policies.

When should you buy travel insurance?

Buying travel insurance immediately after booking your trip is best, as you’ll have the most coverage options and can maximize your trip cancellation benefits the sooner your trip is covered.

Is it best to buy travel insurance before or after you book?

Buying travel insurance after booking is best, as most travel insurance companies ask about your first trip deposit when you get a travel insurance policy quote. You’ll need to know or at least be able to estimate your total travel costs to get coverage, and it’s easier to do so after you’ve booked travel.

Is travel insurance valid if obtained after departure?

Travel insurance obtained after departure is valid but usually limited compared to comprehensive travel insurance policies available prior to departure. Generally, post-departure travel insurance is limited to medical emergencies and related expenses rather than trip cancellation benefits.

How late can I buy travel insurance for a cruise?

Most travel insurance companies only offer policies up to the day before your cruise departure. However, some travel insurance companies offer post-departure policies subject to limitations and waiting periods.

Jessica Merritt's image

About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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