Consider the following scenario: You book a trip now for travel in July. The trip includes nonrefundable flights, a nonrefundable hotel stay and prepaid excursions. A week before the trip, you become ill and cannot travel (this generally includes COVID-related illness). Because you purchased a travel insurance policy the day after you booked your vacation, you’ll be able to cancel your trip and get a refund for all of your nonrefundable trip plans, rather than letting that money go to waste.

If you didn’t have travel insurance, you’d be liable for all of these prepaid reservations and need to take up your refund request with the airline, hotel and tour operator individually. If you have travel insurance, you may still be required to make an initial attempt for a refund with the individual companies; however, if you’re unsuccessful, travel insurance will reimburse you.

In the above example, you were covered for your illness because you already had travel insurance when you got sick. If, instead, you were planning to buy a policy the day before you left for your July trip, it would have been too late. Your illness would have occurred before the policy start date, and you would not be covered.

Unexpected medical emergencies

Comprehensive travel insurance policies include several important medical protections, such as reimbursement for emergency medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation.