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Old April 9, 2005, 03:57 PM   #1
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Travel Insurance Advice

Travel insurance policies are all over the map in terms of cost and coverage. If you travel regularly, are in good health and have no relatives that are in failing health (where you might have to cancel a trip on short notice for a funeral, for example), you should consider passing on travel insurance. Why? Because in the long run, consumers pay more in such insurance premiums than they will recover. The net goes to cover insurance company costs and profits.

But there are a number of situations where you should consider such insurance:
  • You can't afford to lose the cost of your trip if you have to cancel on short notice or return suddenly while on your trip.
  • You have a health condition that might warrant treatment on short notice, requiring you to cancel or cut your trip short.
  • You have a close relative in failing health.
When getting a policy, there are all kinds of policies and they insure different risks. Start by determining what coverage you currently have under your homeowners or renters insurance, your medical insurance and your credit card insurance (for the card you used to pay for the trip). Examples: Your medical insurance might cover you overseas or it might not. Medical evacuation coverage might be provided by your medical insurance or by your credit card, especially if you used one of the high-end (e.g., platinum) cards.

Determine the type of trip you are taking. If most of the expenses will be hotel bills, you can probably escape with minimal damage (such as one night’s deposit) if you have to cancel. In such a case it would not be cost effective to get insurance. Even if you have plane tickets, they can usually be rescheduled for another time within a year by paying a change fee of $100-$150. However, if you have to cancel a cruise or a charter flight within 10-15 days of your travel date, you will likely lose your entire cost.

If you still believe you need insurance, check out the insurance that your travel carrier makes available. It should be from a third party, since it likely won't pay off if it is issued by your (for example) cruise line and the cruise is canceled because the cruise line goes into bankruptcy!

Most companies have several types of policies. Check out the fine print. Some companies no longer insure against the bankruptcy of your travel provider. Others won't pay for selected type of activities on your trip which the insurer deems to be dangerous. This can sometimes include such seemingly simple activities as bike riding!

And check out the medical exclusions. Some companies will not cover preexisting medical conditions. That sometimes means a medical condition is excluded because you visited the doctor because you didn't feel well within X weeks of your trip, even though the heart condition or cancer that arises wasn't detected in that visit.

Most insurers have numerous exclusions that kick in if you don't buy the insurance at about the same time you book your trip. (Check the fine print!)

Three reputable companies are:To do a comparison of various policies or to find out, in plain English, what coverage is offered by various types of travel policies, visit http://insuremytrip.com/

Good travel insurance doesn’t come cheap. A worthwhile policy for a couple in their early 50s for a $5,000 trip is likely to cost $200 to $400.

And check the fine print for exclusions! (Did I already say that?) Ombudsman columns in various travel publications often discuss this topic because people buy insurance, expect it will cover everything and then are very much disappointed when seemingly unrelated events exclude reimbursement.

Timeshare Insurance
VacationGuard offers protection against loss of timeshare use for eligible reasons. The cost for annual - not individual trip - coverage starts at $129 and includes reimbursement of maintenance fees and (if applicable) exchange fees up to the limits of the policy. Policies also include some trip delay, baggage, medical and other coverage.

Compare the coverage for this policy with coverage from the major policy sources discussed above, as the coverage for major expense items varies significantly.

Last edited by Makai Guy; January 23, 2013 at 09:37 PM. Reason: Updated Allianz name and URL
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