Most travelers, except perhaps a lucky few who remain independently wealthy despite the struggling economy, take some time to plan their next vacation destination before deciding to make a booking deposit. They do some web searching, some consulting with friends and relatives, some reading of travel advertising, and maybe even some travel guidebook study before frequently seeking advice from a travel professional. Like car buyers kicking the tires to compare deals, travelers like to comparison shop for their trips.
Surprisingly, when many travelers do decide to book with a deposit on a trip they get a travel question they haven’t even thought much about. Do you want to add travel insurance? Lack of insurance research will sometimes lead travelers to dangerous assumptions. My health insurance will cover me if I get sick or injured. My credit card will cover trip cancellations or delays. The waiver offered by the tour operator or the cruise line insurance will be just as good as what I could buy from a 3rd-party travel insurance company. Travelers can be financially hurt when they have not read or learned about what is covered and what is not covered by different types of insurance plans.
A specialized 3rd-party travel insurance plan, not connected to the supplier operating the trip, is the strongest resource for protecting the traveler’s health and prepaid travel investment both before and during the trip, as well as his or her travel belongings from day of departure until the return home. Here’s why:
• Emergency medical coverage: As noted on the U.S. State Dept. web site (travel.state.gov) most U.S. based health insurance plans, including Medicare, do not cover you outside the U.S. And remember that cruise lines are traveling in international waters when they leave the U.S. for the Caribbean or other destinations. Medical Evacuation can be many thousands of dollars in an overseas emergency. And a health plan may not cover your pre-existing medical conditions. Based on simple purchase requirements, a travel insurance plan will cover your pre-existing conditions, or those of your family members and cover emergency medical and evacuation costs.
• Travel financial protection: Most waivers or policies bought directly from a travel supplier will not cover you if that supplier has a default or bankruptcy. And many suppliers’ plans only pay reimbursement in the form of a trip credit. A good 3rd-party insurance plan provides a cash refund for your covered claim. There is also coverage included for Missed Connection, Trip Delay, Job Loss Protection, and available options for Cancel for Work Reasons or for Any Reason with a travel insurance plan. Most of these features are missing from credit card, supplier or other travel-related insurance.
• Baggage protection: A supplier will not cover you with reimbursement of emergency expenses to buy replacement items if your bags are delayed or go missing. A good travel insurance plan covers this. You also need not wait an unreasonable time with travel insurance for cash reimbursement of at least some contents of a lost travel bag. A supplier, however, may take its time to search for your missing bag for weeks, or even months, before declaring it lost.
• Worldwide Emergency Assistance: If you get lost, or lose money or travel documents, or need a prescription, or have other emergency needs while traveling, a good 3rd-party insurance plan provides you with Emergency Assistance services anywhere you travel. It is all included as part of the coverage.
The bottom line is that your health, your livelihood and your property are not worth risking when you travel any more than they are when you are at home or driving in your car. In fact, when you travel you have fewer resources for immediate help without insurance than when you have an emergency close to home. Travel can be the greatest experience in the world, but on a bad day it can also be a nightmare. Travel insurance provides the peace of mind that lets you enjoy the trip without fearing for the worst.
John Stone is the Media Relations Manager at Travel Insured International, and a former News Editor at Leisure Travel News and Travel Trade Magazine. He authors a company blog on topics of interest to travel insurance customers at http://www.travelinsured.com/Blog/