Electrical insulation breakdown between conductor and coil parts and structures is a limiting factor in the performance of high-field magnets. We have evaluated various insulation coatings for possible application in both Nb3Sn and Bi-2212 coil fabrication. Such coatings must be robust to maintain structural integrity and provide adequate voltage standoff after the wind-and-react coil fabrication process. Such processes are characterized by reaction temperatures of 650°C in an inert atmosphere for Nb3Sn and 890°C in a pure oxygen atmosphere for Bi-2212, and down to cryogenic temperatures when coils are in service. We present a method of testing standardized samples and report the performance characteristics of oxide layers produced (or applied) by plasma-spray, surface conversion, and "paintable" coatings in common areas of voltage breakdown in coil parts. We also address material compatibility and durability during high-temperature heat treatment and cryogenic shock. Suitable coatings selected in the testing process will be instrumental in improving the performance of future wind-and-react coils. © 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.