Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and be ready for anything
Travel insurance may not be exciting, but it is essential for anyone traveling today. Hurricanes are just one reason; blizzards, flight cancellations or delay, lost or damaged baggage and personal items. . . the list goes on.
“But nothing will keep us from this trip”, you say. That’s what Mike and Marcia said about their honeymoon, so they didn’t take the insurance. However, she had an inner ear infection that ruptured her ear drum the day after the wedding. She could not fly and they had to cancel the trip with no refund possible. Or kidney stones three days before a Japan cruise that stopped Dave and Theo from boarding the ship. Thankfully, they had insurance and recouped the full cancellation penalties.
Karen stepped off a curb in Barcelona, Spain and broke her ankle; hospitalization and surgery were required before she could fly stateside. Doug, an accomplished diver of over 20 years, got the bends in Cozumel and spent a week undergoing decompression chamber treatments.
These are just a few of the examples of actual client experiences over the past 20+ years and I could fill multiple pages with more. The point is, no one plans for an emergency but they happen when you least expect it. Which is the reason I implore my clients to obtain travel insurance for any trip. My husband, Bryan, and I never travel without it.
Last summer Bryan dropped his I-watch going through security screening in Reykjavik, Iceland and it shattered on the concrete floor. With proper documentation submitted to the travel insurance provider, the cost for the replacement was covered.
Did you realize that in most cases, your American health insurance is void upon departure from our borders? Any medical expenses incurred internationally are out of your pocket. Not to mention the need to find medical care, coordinate transportation, possible extended lodging and more, all while dealing with a medical problem.
OR, you can have travel insurance, in which case the provider will step in like it did for Karen. They recommended an excellent local hospital and physician, provided continued lodging for her travel companion, coordinated the changed flight to the US for them both, and checked in daily with them and informed me as their travel agent of every arrangement.
The peace of mind this service provided to family at home, not to mention Karen, was invaluable. For me, it helped reinforce my trust in the insurance provider as I watched their detailed care of our mutual client.
Upon their return home, there was a claims process, aided by my records as well as those of the insurance provider. Yes, Karen still had to file the claim but she had 12 months to do so, and ultimately was reimbursed for 100% of her expense related to the unfortunate event.
A few tips on travel insurance
- Read the terms under which cancellation is protected to assure that it includes not only you but your traveling companions and extended family. Years ago, my husband purchased online insurance at the end of an airline ticket purchase (they all have those options now). Sadly, he didn’t realize it covered cancellation only for his immediate family members. The week before our trip, my father’s hospice group warned us that he would not be alive by the time we returned, so we cancelled our trip. I was reimbursed by my travel insurance but Bryan’s insurance denied the claim as it was his father-in-law and not his father. Lesson learned.
2. Be aware of the terms for claim processing in case of flight cancellation/delay. Various insurance policies cover an overnight stay in route but only to a certain maximum amount and the rest is on you. The same is true for the amount they will cover for lost or delayed baggage. Know the terms before buying replacements or booking that hotel stay.
3. Speaking of flight delays/cancellations: do you realize that the fine print of airline tickets states that any cancellation or delay due to weather absolves the airline of responsibility for you during the delay period? Ever wonder why people are sleeping in an airport when their flight is cancelled? They obviously don’t have travel insurance that will reimburse for that hotel stay; don’t be one of them.
4. Document everything. Insurance claims require detailed documentation of your claim. Keep receipts of anything purchased, make notes in your cell phone and get something in writing from an independent source supporting your claim. Take the case of my husband’s I watch damage. We had issues with the claim because he had no “official” written report supporting the incident. He had a cell phone photo with the location and time/date. However, the claim was initially declined due to failure to have an official report. Get something in writing from someone else to support the incident to smooth the way to your claim processing.
5. Assistance service. I try to be available to assist clients as fully as possible but I’m not available 24/7. The travel insurance providers that I recommend have a 24/7 assistance line, accessible anywhere in the world via a toll-free number. It’s just one more reason I recommend specific providers, as I have confidence knowing my clients can obtain assistance anytime, anywhere they travel.
Travel insurance is an additional cost, but considering the risk/reward balance, it is one I highly recommend every traveler acquire to protect their investment. You have invested a lot of money, and your vacation time to this trip; is it worth losing either or both due to circumstances over which you have no control? I think not.
For more details on travel planning, feel free to email me at [email protected]