Travel insurance not a luxury expense

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another question that I’m frequently asked deals with travel insurance. To many folks it is just another extra expense and they frequently brush it off with a comment like “I never get sick!”

My textbook answer is “How much will you lose if you cancel your trip the day of departure? What will it cost you if you have to fly back to the states from your European tour due to a medical emergency?”

There are hundreds of circumstances that could cause you to cancel your trip, return home early or force you to seek emergency medical treatment while traveling.

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To demonstrate the importance of purchasing travel insurance, and emergency travel services, here are 10 common examples of what could go wrong.

It’s 10 p.m. and you and your immediate family arrive at the airport for a connecting flight, only to find that your flight has been cancelled. Who can assist you with finding new flights to get everyone home?

Your bag was lost with your insulin inside. You need help to locate your bag as soon as possible and have your emergency prescription filled. Who do you call?

Your first visit to Europe, and your passport and wallet are stolen. Where do you turn for emergency cash, and how will you get your passport replaced?

You’re involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. Who will help arrange and pay for a medical evacuation?

If your sister-in-law becomes seriously ill and you must cancel your trip, what happens to your non-refundable deposits or pre-payments?

You arrive in Jamaica and your luggage doesn’t. If it’s lost, who will help you find it? If it’s delayed, who will pay for your necessities? If it’s stolen, who will pay to replace it?

Your cruise line, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. Who will pay for your non-refundable expenses? Who will help get you to your destination?

You’re walking down a street in Istanbul and a car backs into you, twisting your ankle. Who can help you find an English-speaking physician?

Three weeks before your scheduled arrival, a terrorist incident occurs in the city to which you are planning to visit. Who will pay if you want to cancel your trip?

You are at a beach resort in North Carolina, and you are forced to evacuate due to an approaching hurricane. Who will help you evacuate and who will reimburse your lost vacation investment?

Discussing some of these travel occurrences generally gets people’s attention. The conversation regarding insurance coverage becomes important and more focused. Many people are confused with how much coverage to purchase and a knowledgeable travel agent will be able to come up with a valid quote.

Another huge issue is the pre-existing conditions clause! This is an insurer’s get out of paying your claim tactic but if you follow a few basic and simple rules you can get the clause waived.

Timing counts here! You have to purchase travel insurance within the insurer’s deadline window for these three important types of coverage: (1) waiver of pre-existing conditions, (2) cancel-for-any-reason protection, and (3) travel supplier bankruptcy/default coverage. I always suggest that the best time to purchase this coverage is at the time when you make the trip deposit.

If you’re still not ready to buy insurance, most insurers typically allot between seven to 21 days after the initial trip deposit for you to still buy insurance with these protections. It varies by insurer.

Agents can tackle general policy features and pricing. But I recommend that you the traveler contact the insurer’s customer service department for any specific questions before you purchase the insurance coverage. You need to understand policy definitions and what each specific type of coverage entails.

Armed with this data you can then make an informed buying decision. If you opt out of buying insurance there’s a good chance that you’ll have to sign a release form stating that you were offered the option to purchase travel insurance and declined.

Here’s another benefit of working with a live agent. They can advise on the ins and outs of this very complex product. Yes most if not all on-line booking sources offer travel insurance but can they discuss your trip and specific needs? Doubtful!

Again I would like to repeat my automatic response to the insurance question “How much of your money can you really afford to lose? An investment in travel protection can give you the peace of mind that you really need to enjoy your vacation!”

There’s still time to join Ironton in Bloom on their spring getaway to the Biltmore gardens and estate. The travel dates for this fairly inclusive motor coach journey are Saturday April 28th and Sunday April 29th. For additional details contact me at 740.550.9540 or With rising gas prices it makes sense to travel with a group. That being said I hope to see you on the bus!

Got travel questions or concerns? Email or call 740.550.9540.