The Travel Insurance Dilemma
One of the options for any trip is whether or not to purchase travel insurance. It is an added expense that many people find goes against the grain. In my opinion, it is necessary, and like car insurance, if you need it, it can be worth its weight in gold. Imagine that you are packed for a trip and find that you cannot travel. With no insurance you stand to lose your travel investment. It actually just happened to me and thankfully I had insurance.
How do you negotiate through all of the different policies out there? Travel insurance is available through tour operators and cruise line, as well as through travel insurance companies such as Travelex, Allianz and Insuremytrip.
What it covered?
Typically insurance covers:
- Trip cancellation and interruption
- Coverage for lost or delayed baggage
- Coverage for trip delay
- Emergency medical and dental expenses while traveling
- Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation
What are the insurance options?
There are several policies to choose from and an important time frame in which to purchase, once you have made a deposit on the trip. All insurance companies consider PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. Pre-existing conditions are medical treatments that you may have had prior to making your deposit. Typically if you purchase the insurance with the deposit or 21-30 days after (depending on the insurance company), pre-existing conditions can be covered. Most independent insurance in companies offer both coverage for pre-existing conditions and a less expensive policy if this does not apply to you.
Cruise line insurance typically cover the cruise, and airfare, if your purchase the airfare through them. They will also cover any other features they sell, such as a land tour or hotel nights associated with the cruise. If you are buying your own airline tickets and planning to extend your trip before or beyond the trip, cruise line insurance may not be the best bet. Cruise line insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, however some do offer a credit between 75% and 90% of the cruise cost that needs to be used within a certain time frame. Their insurance is typically less expensive than the independent companies. An important thing to consider here is that if you have pre-existing conditions that are not covered, costs associated with those conditions, will not be covered while traveling under the medical benefit.
Tour company insurance typically covers those travel arrangements booked through them. Some will cover independently booked airfare as long as you travel within a certain framework. Pre-existing conditions are usually waived if your purchase their insurance with your initial deposit. Some tour company insurance plans allow you to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours prior to departure. Airfare, however, is usually not covered unless you have to cancel due to a documented medical or family reason.
Independent insurance companies are best when you need coverage for pre-existing conditions, or if you have booked your plans independently of a cruise or tour. The independent companies also have policies with higher benefit payments for medical, dental and emergency evacuation.
What are some reasons you may need to cancel your trip?
The most common reason is sickness, accident or death. Policies typically cover you for sickness or death of an immediate family member that requires you to cancel your plans. Issues such as traffic accident on way to the trip, jury duty, subpoena, common carrier cancellations/delays, inclement weather, residence/destination uninhabitable, and involuntary employment termination or transfer. Each insurance company has a complete list of reasons for covered reasons for cancellation.
Your travel advisor will be able to explain the different options for you specific trip. Whatever you decide to do, my advice is to protect your investment by purchasing travel insurance, and pray that you don't ever have to cancel your vacation!
Some of you have had experiences with travel insurance. Please tell us how your claims were handled.