There’s been a lot of confusion over whether or not travel insurance covers a natural disaster such as the April 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland. This disaster stranded tens of thousands of travelers. When someone asks, “Does my travel insurance cover this type of event?” I answer, “Check the fine print.”
Here are four guidelines for knowing what kind and how much travel insurance to get.
1. What is your trip worth to you? A young student sleeping in hostels throughout Europe and carrying a backpack probably doesn’t need a “Cadillac plan” trip protector. Compare that to a couple in their early 60s who have reservations in 5 star hotels in some of the most expensive cities in Europe and who fly first class. Their travel will cost quite a bit, so they should consider paying top of the line coverage.
2. Compare the cost differences between a basic plan and a premium plan. I went on a well-known travel insurance website to see how much it would cost me for a two week international trip. The Basic plan sells for $127 for a person my age. When I added in “cancel for any reason” coverage, upgraded medical coverage, and optional flight coverage, the total jumped to $202. So now I have to ask myself, is that extra $75 worth it?
3. Know what you are buying. Travel insurance policies contain 4 types of trip protection: trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay and missed connection. Before you travel, find out what is covered and what is excluded.
- Trip cancellation reimburses you the full cost of your pre-paid ticket in the event you have to cancel prior to your trip.
- Trip interruption reimburses you for travel expenses in the event of an unexpected crisis during your trip, causing it to be cancelled, interrupted or delayed.
- Travel Delay reimburses you for expenses you pay for trips delayed for more than 5 hours due to covered reasons but only up to a certain amount, some $1000, others $750. Travel delay typically covers hotel accommodations for stranded travelers, meals, taxi fares and essential phone calls.
- Mixed connection reimburses you if inclement weather or common carrier causes cancellation or a delay of a regularly scheduled airline flights for three or more hours to your time of departure.
4. Buy travel insurance for the medical coverage and other services even if airlines reimburse you for travel-related problems. Sure, airlines do reimburse (for a fee) and are obligated in many cases by law to compensate for long travel delays, interruptions and cancellations. But they won’t pay any medical bills should you be injured on your travels. Medical evacuations alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars. And they won’t pay for other services such as physician referrals, translation services, prescription replacement, emergency cash transfers, and concierge services.
Mixed connections are another form of travel frustration. If your mixed connection occurs when traveling with the same airline or air alliance, then you will be taken care of by the airline company. However, if your mixed connection happens when you fly two different airlines or airline alliances, then you are out of luck with the airline companies. If you have travel insurance that covers mixed connections, then you are in luck. Good Neighbor Insurance provides top notch trip cancellation plans. You may view them at our web page at www.gninsurance.com/tripcancellation/ .
Two out of our four trip cancellation plans we provide are: (a) Travel Guard Gold plan at www.onlineglobalhealthinsurance.com/trip-cancellation/ and (b) HTH Trip Protector plans at www.overseashealthinsurance.com/trip-protection.asp . Our HTH Trip Protector plans also cover pre-existing medical conditions.
So, the choice is yours. Most trip cancellations and interruptions are pretty straight forward, and you can get reimbursements from the airlines. In those cases you wouldn’t need a premium Trip Cancellation plan. But in the event of a volcano erupting, or some other natural disaster that severely disrupts travel for days and days, you could be out hundreds of dollars. That’s why there is travel insurance. Like any insurance, we get it because we don’t know the future.
Doug Gulleson loves to scuba dive overseas and makes sure he always takes his Amex card AND international travel insurance policy. Visit Good Neighbor Insurance at www.gninsurance.com. for your next overseas trip health coverage and get a FREE quote or call one of our agents at 480-633-9500.