Savvy travelers know to include travel insurance in their vacation budget and to buy a policy when they book their trip. Doing so provides the longest period of coverage and allows you to take advantage of coverage that must be added shortly after you pay your first trip deposit.
But a lot can change before you depart, such as your itinerary. You may decide to revise your itinerary by swapping out excursions or may want to stay longer than you initially planned. Or, you may have simply made a mistake when you filled in prices or dates when buying your plan.
It’s relatively easy to change your travel insurance details if your trip changes. Here’s how.
Types of Travel Insurance Changes You Can Make
Here are examples of changes you may want to make to a travel insurance plan after you buy it.
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- You can correct mistakes, change trip costs, destinations, travel dates and the number of travelers up to a day or so before you leave on your trip.
- Errors in the information on your policy may result in denied claims.
- If you make pre-departure changes that increase your trip cost, your premium increases.
- You can change your itinerary during your trip and be fully covered as long as the changes are within your original trip cost.
Changes You Can’t Make
- You can’t change the trip costs insured during your trip, so if you revise your itinerary with more expensive hotels, flights or excursions, you likely won’t be fully covered for the prepaid, non-refundable deposits.
- You can’t extend your trip dates post-departure and be covered unless it’s an emergency covered by your plan. For example, you may be able to extend trip coverage only if you get sick or injured, or you have a plan that specifically allows a coverage extension, which is rare.
Correction Officer: Changes to Travel Insurance Before You Depart
Most travel insurance companies allow you to change trip costs, destinations, the number of people on the policy and trip dates up to the day before departure.
Even if you have no changes to make, it’s smart to review your travel insurance policy as soon as you get it to make sure the information you provided is accurate.
“Travelers most commonly change their policy to update personal information or fix minor issues such as a misspelled name or incorrect birthday,” says Sarah McWilliams-Guerra, spokesperson with Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider.
Another common change before departure is to add optional coverage or upgrades, she says.
The following optional coverage and upgrades usually must be added within 15 days of booking your trip:
- “Cancel for any reason” upgrade: You can cancel your trip for reasons beyond those listed in your policy with “cancel for any reason” coverage, which generally reimburses 50% of 75% of trip costs.
- Pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver: If you purchase your travel insurance shortly after your first trip deposit, you can get a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver. This provides coverage for health issues you’ve had in the past.
- “Interruption for any reason” upgrade: If you want to cut a trip short and return home early no matter what the reason, you can sometimes buy “interruption for any reason” coverage and be reimbursed 75% of your trip costs. Currently only a few travel insurance companies offer this option.
Re-Routing: Changing Travel Insurance Dates Before You Leave
You can make travel insurance changes before you leave on your trip, as long as they’re within the scope of the policy document.
“If we receive your request before your trip start date, we can adjust the trip dates in some cases,” says Angela Borden, spokesperson for Seven Corners travel insurance.
Bear in mind that the cost of the travel insurance plan increases if you make changes that increase the amount of coverage, such as a longer coverage period or a higher trip cost.
Can You Change a Travel Insurance Itinerary During Your Trip?
If you’re already on your trip you can swap out tours, activities and excursions. But you won’t be fully covered for prepaid, non-refundable expenses that increase your total trip cost.
“You cannot change the amount of your insured trip cost after your scheduled trip departure date. If you swapped a less expensive excursion for a more expensive one while already on your trip, it’s possible you would not have full coverage for the difference in cost of the excursion,” says Borden.
Can You Extend Your Travel Insurance Policy Dates?
If you are having a great time on your vacation and decide you want to stay beyond your original trip date, you won’t likely be able to extend your travel insurance coverage dates, unless you purchased an optional extension upgrade.
“In most cases, you cannot extend a plan unless you have not yet departed on your trip,” says Borden at Seven Corners.
But, she says, Covid-related quarantines may be an exception. If your travel insurance plan covers Covid and you have to quarantine after a positive test, your plan might extend coverage for up to another five to 10 days. Be sure to check your policy for the specific time rules.
“In addition to allowances for Covid, many plans allow you to extend coverage for a set number of days —seven days and 10 days are common—if your return home is delayed due to unavoidable circumstances you can’t control or due to a covered reason stated in the plan document. Most trip protection plans, because of the way they are designed, do not allow you to simply add extra coverage days if you decide to extend your trip without an unavoidable reason,” says Borden.
Travel insurance plans that will extend dates of coverage after your trip starts are not common. However, the OneTrip Emergency Medical Plan from Allianz travel insurance provides post-departure benefits for more spontaneous travelers who don’t have a lot of prepaid, non-refundable activities planned, and who may want the freedom to stay longer at their destinations, says Daniel Durazo, spokesperson with Allianz.
What Happens if You Don’t Update Your Travel Insurance Plan?
Borden says it’s vital to update your travel insurance policy details to accurately reflect who is traveling and when they are traveling. Otherwise, a claim could be denied.
You may also end up with reduced reimbursements if you make a claim. For example, your trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits compensate for a percentage of your trip costs, so it’s vital that you have the right coverage amount. Making changes is crucial if you’re traveling longer or adding destinations that weren’t originally planned and listed on the policy.
What’s the Deadline for Canceling a Travel Insurance Policy?
Most policies—not all, and this can vary with state regulations—have a “free look period,” says Borden, during which you can take time to review the policy. If you decide you don’t want it, you can cancel it for a refund as long as you haven’t filed a claim or departed for your trip.
“The free look period begins at the date of purchase, and the length of it can vary by plan and provider,” she says. “Review the plan document to learn more about the free look period or ask about it before buying. A typical free look period is 14 days.”
How to Change a Travel Insurance Policy
You can make changes to your travel insurance plan by:
- Calling the customer service number listed on your policy.
- Using your travel insurance company’s app if it has one.
- Making changes online at the company’s website if it provides that service.
“Contact the provider that sold you the travel insurance policy as soon as possible and let them know what you need to change,” says Borden at Seven Corners.
What to Look for in a Comprehensive Travel Insurance Plan
A comprehensive travel insurance plan packages together valuable benefits that can protect you, your trip investment and your belongings. A Forbes Advisor analysis of travel insurance costs found that travel insurance is about 5% to 6% of your trip cost. Here are the types of coverage you can find in a solid travel insurance plan:
- Trip cancellation: If you need to cancel for a reason covered in your policy, trip cancellation insurance reimburses your non-refundable, prepaid deposits.
- Trip delay: If there’s a delay caused by a problem covered by the policy, travel delay insurance covers extra expenses you pay for hotel stays, meals and other extra expenses. It can also compensate you for the non-refundable deposits you lose due to the delay, such as a non-refundable hotel night.
- Trip interruption: If you cut your trip short due to a reason covered by your policy, trip interruption travel insurance reimburses non-refundable costs for activities you miss and unused accommodations. It also can cover the costs of a return flight home in an emergency.
- Medical expense and medical evacuation: If you become ill or injured during your trip, travel medical insurance can pay for doctor and hospital bills, medicine, X-rays and more, up to your policy limits. Emergency medical evacuation can pay to medevac you to the nearest adequate medical facility.
- Baggage and personal possessions: If your baggage or personal items are lost, stolen or damaged during your trip, baggage insurance can compensate you for the depreciated value of your belongings, up to your policy limits.
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