Travel Insurance – A Key part of your Vacation

Awww...Relax on your holiday knowing that you have all your bases covered!

Perhaps travel insurance has been viewed as not ‘so important’ in the past but over the last year or so it has proved its worth when many people’s vacations have been disrupted, changed or cancelled because of SARS, H1N1 outbreaks, the Iceland volcano, the record breaking earthquake in Japan and earthquakes in New Zealand, political unrest in North Africa, airline strikes and travel supplier/airline bankruptcies. That is not including the many other reasons insurance should be purchased to protect your vacation investment.

Most defiantly the last few years have been challenging and distressing at times for us travel professionals as we help stranded clients or make last minute changes and help fill out insurance claims.

Today I am reminded again of the benefit of travel insurance when I learn that a client’s wife, who is booked to travel 6 months from now, sadly has passed away.  Their booking conditions state that their trip is 100% non-refundable in any circumstance. Since they paid in full to capitalize on an early booking bonus, all funds paid are non-refundable. The only way that a refund could be obtained is to make an insurance claim IF insurance was purchased. My client had not purchased insurance however luckily another family member is now traveling on his wife’s ticket (in this case a name change was permitted, but this is not always the case) so that was resolved.

Another example of when insurance is critical is if you are traveling on a cruise. The best insurance is to arrive at least 1 day prior to your cruise departure and to have a travel insurance policy. How would you get to your ship if there was a delay in your flights and you will not arrive in time for your cruise? Or the cruiseline oversells your ship or decides to cancel your cruise and you have purchased airfare already?  Believe me, next day airfare to get you to a port to catch your cruise is very expensive and finding a new cruise or postponing your already planned vacation is stressful.

And then we come to group travel and vacations that are booked 6-12 months ahead of time. Something can easily happen in that time that would prohibit you from going on your vacation that you could not predict. Insurable reasons are those unforeseen reasons such as sickness in you or immediate family or traveling companion, death of you or family member or traveling companion, unforeseen medical complications with pregnancy, jury duty, job transfer where you are moving your primary residence, job loss when you are wrongfully let go, travel advisories, natural disasters or travel suppler default to name a few. (Of course you could book your vacation today that departs next week and suddenly be hospitalized – for example – before you depart and have to cancel your holiday. Insurance purchased at time of booking with SAVE you with the ability to claim for your dollars lost when cancelling for an insurable reason).

I often get the response that ‘I am going no matter what’ so I don’t need insurance. And fair enough…until something unexpected happens. I have made a claim with travel insurance myself when Mexicana Airlines went bankrupt and really, you just need to use it once and you won’t leave home without it. I was going no matter what; I just didn’t want to pay double of my airfare to Mexico!  

When booking your vacation, please research if you have coverage before you decline insurance. How much coverage does your credit card really have? You may be surprised to find that the policy might need to be activated, purchased or that it only covers the card holder or is a very minimal policy. Credit card companies are not heavily invested in the insurance business; it’s a benefit they market to you to help secure your business. Then check your policy that you may have with your employer. Do you have out of country coverage – for travel medical coverage only or anything more?  

If you already have enough coverage for your vacation, that is great.  If not, it is best to purchase a policy or purchase enough insurance to top up the coverage you already have. And then if you have enough travel cancellation, trip interruption and baggage coverage you may like to purchase travel medical insurance. Unlimited travel medical coverage starts at less than $2 a day. That is peanuts compared to the sky-high bills you would face if hospitalized in some countries.

Travel Insurance is a key component to your vacation. If you are investing $5000, $10,000 or more in a trip it just makes good sense.

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