The right travel insurance

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Grant Ritchie

Dependable adequacy :-)
Oct 1, 2014
1,592
1,019
113
#1
This post was created by Promal and posted here by request of Mike Z

The right travel insurance policy can make you whole if you have to cancel your vacation before you leave for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with how young, old or healthy you are. The rule of thumb to go by - if you can't afford to lose everything you have paid for your vacation if you have to cancel you need travel insurance. If you need to be evacuated from a cruise ship because you become seriously ill and don't happen to have $72,000 available for an evacuation - you need travel insurance. If you do not have medical insurance that covers you in any country you may be traveling to - you need travel insurance.

Pre-trip, a policy can cover you for many unforseen circumstances. What if you fall and break a leg two weeks before you are leaving? What if your boss tells you that due to an emergency at work, it's either your job or your vacation? What if a hurricane or a fire destroys your home before you leave or you have a car accident on the way to the airport? What if your flights are canceled and you can't rebook right away and miss some or all of your vacation or if an elderly parent is hospitalized or passes away right before you are ready to leave? What if your airline or cruise ship loses your luggage and you have no clothes for your entire vacation? All of these scenarios can be covered by purchasing the right travel insurance policy.

Insurance during your trip is just as important. Some of the scenarios we've actually seen - a passenger who has a stroke in the middle of dinner on a cruise ship. A helicopter landed on the ship to transport the client to the hospital. Average cost of a medical evacuation is $72,000. How would you pay that without insurance? In Bermuda, a client on a motor scooter was sideswiped on the road and had to go to the hospital for treatment. This client refused travel insurance and had to pay a $3,000 hospital bill before he was permitted to leave the hospital. Another client had a massive heart attack, spent three weeks in a hospital in Costa Rica to be stabilized and then needed a med jet flight home. His insurance reimbursed him for over $100,000 in medical and flight bills. Another client received a phone call that her mother had passed away. She had to forgo the remainder of her vacation and get last minute flights to return home. Her insurance helped to reimburse her for the added expenses.

What should you look for in a policy? Consider all the expenses you are pre-paying. If you are booking air and hotel and prepaying everything, insure the entire trip. Cancellation policies vary for hotels, some charge cancellation penalties regardless of when you travel once booked, some only have cancellation fees if you cancel 30 days before, some a day before. If you are booking air and a hotel that is not pre-paid - that is only guaranteed by a credit card but has a generous cancellation policy, where you can cancel up until two days before arrival, you may only want to insure your airfare.

Another thing to ask is if it is primary or secondary coverage. Secondary coverage, which is what most travel insurance coverage is, picks up whatever your primary medical (or even homeowners) insurance doesn't cover. Primary insurance is usually more expensive and pays immediately.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you usually must purchase at the time of making your deposit or within two - three weeks of the day you make your deposit. One thing to note is that you must be medically able to travel the day you book insurance. Some less expensive policies do not offer a waiver for pre-existing conditions so check the policy carefully before purchasing. Pre-existing coverage is also needed if you have an elderly parent or immediate relative who may be in a precarious medical state that could cause cancellation of your trip as the date gets closer.

An additional thing to consider when you book your insurance is weather. A few years ago, a volcano in Iceland exploded and the ash closed air space over much of Western Europe. Thousands of people were unable to fly to or from their vacations. Those passengers who had purchased travel insurance with coverage for weather provisions were able to get refunds on their trips based on the coverage they had. Many of those who didn't have insurance weren't able to be fully reimbursed. Those that suddenly decided to try to book insurance once the volcano blew were unable to buy coverage because the weather scenario already existed. It is too late to book for weather coverage once the storms have already developed. If you are traveling during hurricane or winter, buy that coverage right away.

The amount of coverage is important. Some lower priced policies offer minimal coverage, with perhaps $10,000 in medical insurance or $25,000 emergency evacuation. If you are a U.S. citizen traveling within the United States, your medical insurance might cover a medical emergency or hospitalization and you might not need a policy with coverage. If you are traveling outside the U.S. check with your medical insurance company to see if you would be covered in the country you are traveling to. If you aren't, get the best coverage you can afford. $10,000 is not a lot of coverage if you have to be hospitalized for an extended period.

For frequent travelers, there are annual policies that can be purchased but most offer minimal insurance that you might need to purchase another policy to cover what the annual doesn't.

Some suppliers offer Cancel For Any Reason insurance. That type of insurance (known as CFAR) will cover cancellation for almost anything that traditional insurance doesn't cover - such as changing your mind once booked, your childs friend that you may be taking with you on a trip and the kids have a fight and the friend doesn't go, etc. (Usually pregnancy and any emotional conditions aren't covered regardless). These policies are typically 40% higher than a regular policy and usually do not refund 100% of your costs.

Where can you buy insurance? Your travel agent has policies they sell and are usually well versed on what each policy covers. Check with your credit card company but read the details carefully to see what is actually covered and how much. We've seen folks put in claims that their credit card company rejected. Call your credit card to ask if they cover all the above scenarios. Call the insurance company you are considering to ensure you understand what you are purchasing.Airlines will usually offer insurance before you finalize your booking, most suppliers offer insurance as well.

There are many travel insurance websites that will have comparisons of various policies - www.insuremytrip.com and www.squaremouth.com are two. You can do a Google search and find additional comparisons sites.

A consumer that is prepared to ask the right questions when looking for travel insurance can easily find an affordable policy that will take the worry out of their vacation. Don't leave home without it.

Promal
 
Likes: WanderOne

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,233
3,126
113
#3
If I have used air miles to book our flights so I only paid for taxes, fees and seat upgrades, what should I cover with travel insurance?
You only count the actual amount of money spent. Dollar for dollar what do those fees add up to? And the clock started Ticking for your Pre Existing Medical when you paid the 1st penny, how long ago was that?
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,233
3,126
113
#5
Thanks! No pre-existing medical conditions. Booked the trip last June for trip from BOS to Mexico, so I figure I will have to cover lodging, trip interruption, luggage delay/loss, medical emergency.
Depending on what you are actually trying to insure you need to cover EVERY dime you have put out and that is non refundable. You can not underinsure, if you are under insured for even a dollar it is reason to turn down your claim. Round up!
And know what is a covered inclusion and what is not included. I recommend contacting a professional and make sure you have the details of what's important to you covered.
Have a great trip and good luck!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,273
6,337
113
San Francisco
#7
I went through this for the first time recently, Bill, with a cruise-tour, one air ticket was cash, the other an award. You just make a list of what you'd be out of pocket if you had to cancel. Award tix generally carry a rebooking fee for the miles spent if you have to cancel, so find out what is or be prepared to eat that charge. And JVille is right, round up! I worked with a broker who specializes in travel insurance and found his expertise very helpful.
 
Likes: VoR61
#8
This post was created by Promal and posted here by request of Mike Z

The right travel insurance policy can make you whole if you have to cancel your vacation before you leave for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with how young, old or healthy you are. The rule of thumb to go by - if you can't afford to lose everything you have paid for your vacation if you have to cancel you need travel insurance. If you need to be evacuated from a cruise ship because you become seriously ill and don't happen to have $72,000 available for an evacuation - you need travel insurance. If you do not have medical insurance that covers you in any country you may be traveling to - you need travel insurance.

Pre-trip, a policy can cover you for many unforseen circumstances. What if you fall and break a leg two weeks before you are leaving? What if your boss tells you that due to an emergency at work, it's either your job or your vacation? What if a hurricane or a fire destroys your home before you leave or you have a car accident on the way to the airport? What if your flights are canceled and you can't rebook right away and miss some or all of your vacation or if an elderly parent is hospitalized or passes away right before you are ready to leave? What if your airline or cruise ship loses your luggage and you have no clothes for your entire vacation? All of these scenarios can be covered by purchasing the right travel insurance policy.

Insurance during your trip is just as important. Some of the scenarios we've actually seen - a passenger who has a stroke in the middle of dinner on a cruise ship. A helicopter landed on the ship to transport the client to the hospital. Average cost of a medical evacuation is $72,000. How would you pay that without insurance? In Bermuda, a client on a motor scooter was sideswiped on the road and had to go to the hospital for treatment. This client refused travel insurance and had to pay a $3,000 hospital bill before he was permitted to leave the hospital. Another client had a massive heart attack, spent three weeks in a hospital in Costa Rica to be stabilized and then needed a med jet flight home. His insurance reimbursed him for over $100,000 in medical and flight bills. Another client received a phone call that her mother had passed away. She had to forgo the remainder of her vacation and get last minute flights to return home. Her insurance helped to reimburse her for the added expenses.

What should you look for in a policy? Consider all the expenses you are pre-paying. If you are booking air and hotel and prepaying everything, insure the entire trip. Cancellation policies vary for hotels, some charge cancellation penalties regardless of when you travel once booked, some only have cancellation fees if you cancel 30 days before, some a day before. If you are booking air and a hotel that is not pre-paid - that is only guaranteed by a credit card but has a generous cancellation policy, where you can cancel up until two days before arrival, you may only want to insure your airfare.

Another thing to ask is if it is primary or secondary coverage. Secondary coverage, which is what most travel insurance coverage is, picks up whatever your primary medical (or even homeowners) insurance doesn't cover. Primary insurance is usually more expensive and pays immediately.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you usually must purchase at the time of making your deposit or within two - three weeks of the day you make your deposit. One thing to note is that you must be medically able to travel the day you book insurance. Some less expensive policies do not offer a waiver for pre-existing conditions so check the policy carefully before purchasing. Pre-existing coverage is also needed if you have an elderly parent or immediate relative who may be in a precarious medical state that could cause cancellation of your trip as the date gets closer.

An additional thing to consider when you book your insurance is weather. A few years ago, a volcano in Iceland exploded and the ash closed air space over much of Western Europe. Thousands of people were unable to fly to or from their vacations. Those passengers who had purchased travel insurance with coverage for weather provisions were able to get refunds on their trips based on the coverage they had. Many of those who didn't have insurance weren't able to be fully reimbursed. Those that suddenly decided to try to book insurance once the volcano blew were unable to buy coverage because the weather scenario already existed. It is too late to book for weather coverage once the storms have already developed. If you are traveling during hurricane or winter, buy that coverage right away.

The amount of coverage is important. Some lower priced policies offer minimal coverage, with perhaps $10,000 in medical insurance or $25,000 emergency evacuation. If you are a U.S. citizen traveling within the United States, your medical insurance might cover a medical emergency or hospitalization and you might not need a policy with coverage. If you are traveling outside the U.S. check with your medical insurance company to see if you would be covered in the country you are traveling to. If you aren't, get the best coverage you can afford. $10,000 is not a lot of coverage if you have to be hospitalized for an extended period.

For frequent travelers, there are annual policies that can be purchased but most offer minimal insurance that you might need to purchase another policy to cover what the annual doesn't.

Some suppliers offer Cancel For Any Reason insurance. That type of insurance (known as CFAR) will cover cancellation for almost anything that traditional insurance doesn't cover - such as changing your mind once booked, your childs friend that you may be taking with you on a trip and the kids have a fight and the friend doesn't go, etc. (Usually pregnancy and any emotional conditions aren't covered regardless). These policies are typically 40% higher than a regular policy and usually do not refund 100% of your costs.

Where can you buy insurance? Your travel agent has policies they sell and are usually well versed on what each policy covers. Check with your credit card company but read the details carefully to see what is actually covered and how much. We've seen folks put in claims that their credit card company rejected. Call your credit card to ask if they cover all the above scenarios. Call the insurance company you are considering to ensure you understand what you are purchasing.Airlines will usually offer insurance before you finalize your booking, most suppliers offer insurance as well.

There are many travel insurance websites that will have comparisons of various policies - www.insuremytrip.com and www.squaremouth.com are two. You can do a Google search and find additional comparisons sites.

A consumer that is prepared to ask the right questions when looking for travel insurance can easily find an affordable policy that will take the worry out of their vacation. Don't leave home without it.

Promal
This is a very comprehensive summary of the subject. Thanks for the effort.

I would add that I've looked at both insuremytrip.com and squaremouth.com before purchasing travel insurance but then I take it one step further. I use my USAA, AARP and AAA memberships to check what policies they offer and I've found that the ones offered by USAA in particular are always less expensive than buying exactly the same policy directly from the insurer, in an apples-to-apples comparison. I've never tried to take advantage of the insuremytrip.com price match guarantee, but that's something to consider, too.
 
B

bodega3

Guest
#9
I would add that you want to be sure your travel insurance company has a toll free way of reaching them 24/7. You call them first before making any changes to your flights, as a good insurance company assists you with this and has access to the carriers flights, availability and fares that you don't have.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,640
11,990
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
This is a very comprehensive summary of the subject. Thanks for the effort.

I would add that I've looked at both insuremytrip.com and squaremouth.com before purchasing travel insurance but then I take it one step further. I use my USAA, AARP and AAA memberships to check what policies they offer and I've found that the ones offered by USAA in particular are always less expensive than buying exactly the same policy directly from the insurer, in an apples-to-apples comparison. I've never tried to take advantage of the insuremytrip.com price match guarantee, but that's something to consider, too.
We never recommend particular companies here because we don't want to be accused of anyone saying "it was recommended by Elliott". That's why we try to use a broad brush stroke to recommend comparison sites. Thank you for reminding everyone that there are others to check as well.
 
#11
I went through this for the first time recently, Bill, with a cruise-tour, one air ticket was cash, the other an award. You just make a list of what you'd be out of pocket if you had to cancel. Award tix generally carry a rebooking fee for the miles spent if you have to cancel, so find out what is or be prepared to eat that charge. And JVille is right, round up! I worked with a broker who specializes in travel insurance and found his expertise very helpful.
 
Sep 6, 2015
280
294
63
57
#14
I've switched my thinking on travel insurance based on my experience and of course, ever increasing age. Several years ago we were buying plane tickets for my in laws to fly to our son's HS graduation. We did buy the insurance because he was sick but when he died a few weeks prior to the big day, they tried to hit us with the exclusion for a what they said was a pre-existing medical condition. While they eventually paid us, I've learned to be careful to understand all of their terms.
Fast forward to our 30th Anniversary trip to Hawaii we took a few years ago, my dad had recently had knee replacement surgery but it went well and we were excited for trip. He then developed a mrsa infection and went from active and healthy to his deathbed almost overnight
We didn't know what to do, but faced with a very difficult decision, we talked to my brothers and they encouraged us to to go anyway. We finally did go and had an amazing trip.
Even if you are healthy, your parents might not be or you could have an accident. With change fees being what they are ($300 each for tickets I just bough to Ireland) I bought insurance to cover the costs that also includes some other emergency services.
A lot of airlines, hotels and other travel providers will give you at least a partial refund for a flight you can't use due to an emergency. People buy very restricted fares (in other words-non refundable) and I don't know that it's fair to expect them to refund it--no matter how upside down your life might be at the moment. It comes down to this: unless you can afford to write the money off should an emergency force you to change your plans, you need travel insurance. I won't book a trip without it anymore.
 
Last edited:
Jan 6, 2015
2,002
1,961
113
#15
I just walked someone through a quote for $323 for a $9400 non-refundable trip cost (just the tickets). This policy includes Cancel for Any Reason, Financial Default, Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Waiver, Primary Medical Coverage, Hospital of Choice, and Emergency Medical Evacuation. A minimal investment for the protection ...
 
Sep 6, 2015
280
294
63
57
#16
I just walked someone through a quote for $323 for a $9400 non-refundable trip cost (just the tickets). This policy includes Cancel for Any Reason, Financial Default, Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Waiver, Primary Medical Coverage, Hospital of Choice, and Emergency Medical Evacuation. A minimal investment for the protection ...
Funny thing--some people think that's a lot of money, and yet it's a much better deal than losing close to 10k.
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,002
1,961
113
#17
Funny thing--some people think that's a lot of money, and yet it's a much better deal than losing close to 10k.
Agreed. My approach was to explain the value of each coverage and suggest that he consider his reaction to the loss of $9400. I also encouraged him to view this as simply paying $9800 (vs $9400) for the tickets. Finally I told him to contact the broker if he needed clarification. He was grateful for the information and advice, especially since his travel agent had quoted $950 for insurance.
I always encourage fellow travelers to be certain they fully understand the terms and conditions of the insurance they are considering before they purchase. Few things are more frustrating than paying for coverage and then discovering that we can't use it because of a limitation.
 
Likes: jsn55

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,640
11,990
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
What we tell clients:
If you can afford to lose everything you have paid if you have to cancel your trip, or if you can afford to pay out of pocket for any accidents or hospitalizations while you are traveling - then you don't need travel insurance.
If you can't, you do.