You’ve looked forward to your dream vacation ever since you booked it last year, and the date is fast approaching. After months of planning, you are ready to pack your suitcase, but there is one thing you absolutely need to pack: an airtight travel insurance policy. Insurance sounds so BORING compared to the images of you relaxing in your overwater bungalow. Still, no matter how extravagant or low-budget your trip may be, many things outside your control could change your dream vacation into a nightmare faster than you can say, “Winter Storm Elliot.” In the anticipation of going on their dream vacation, many people view travel insurance as an afterthought and, when evaluating the additional expense, wonder if travel insurance is worth it. As a travel advisor, I have seen first-hand (and heard horror stories) what can happen when you leave home without it, and I would tell you that the answer is a resounding “YES!”
Travel insurance not only protects you for cancellations, it can also cover medical expenses, evacuations, losses or delays, and 24/7 assistance. You may think you have coverage with your credit card, but this coverage is often more limited, most falling dreadfully short of what you actually need.
Here are the main reasons you should consider travel insurance for your next vacation.
Reason #1: Protection for cancellation or delays.
Most people only think about travel insurance covering them if they have to cancel their trip, and will tell me, “We are going on this trip no matter what, so we don’t need insurance.” Travel can be unpredictable: hurricanes happen, you or a family member becomes ill, your job makes you work, airline employees strike, and other situations happen that are out of your control. If you’ve made payments that are pre-paid and non-refundable, you risk losing it all if something goes wrong unless you purchased Travel Insurance.
If a covered delay causes you to miss the departure of your cruise or tour, you can be covered for reasonable transportation expenses to help you rejoin your cruise/tour or reach your destination. You can also be reimbursed for reasonable essential items until your lost baggage arrives. If something happens and you are required to return home, insurance will reimburse you for the lost portion of your trip as well as any additional expenses for the last-minute flight home.
While cancellation can mean you lose all the money they paid for the trip, the bigger financial blow is if you have a medical need while you are traveling abroad. Most people would be surprised that their medical insurance isn’t valid outside the U.S.
According to news accounts, a Georgia man went into diabetic shock while on a Carnival cruise. Before he was allowed to leave, the hospital wanted his bill, amounting to $14,000, paid in full. The man had no insurance, and the hospital refused his offer to pay over time. Donors stepped in, including movie mogul Tyler Perry, and agreed to settle the bill. While we can’t all expect a famous actor to save the day, having the right travel insurance policy would have.
Consider it a ‘lifeline’ to call when something happens. Medical emergencies, stolen baggage, lost passports, cancelled flights. Every travel insurance company provides 24/7 support for all of these needs.
The recent collapse of 178 year-old travel company, Thomas Cook, brought this problem to light when it suddenly stranded thousands of travelers. Some travel insurers will guarantee the reservations of companies who fail, so if this is a concern, be sure that the company and policy you choose provides this coverage.
All travel insurers and policies aren’t created equal. Some will guarantee the hospital bill, while others require you to pay up front and get reimbursed later. It may seem easy to go with the cruise line’s or tour operator’s travel protection plan next, but who’s best interest do you think they truly serve? If you need to cancel your trip, some of these plans may reimburse their customers with a travel credit to book with them again, rather than reimbursing in cash. In addition, anything booked outside of your cruise or tour (flights, for example) would not be covered. To have more freedom to choose how you move forward, a third-party plan is almost always the better option.
I believe so strongly in this topic that I insist all of my clients protect their vacations with travel insurance or sign a waiver if they decline. Your travel advisor can help you sort through the myriad of choices to make sure you are matched with the right insurance company and policy that meets your needs.
Nobody likes to imagine something going wrong on their trip. But accidents and emergencies do happen. Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance coverage for your next trip-it’s actually more affordable than you think. Isn’t protecting your dream vacation worth the minimal cost of travel insurance? Your peace of mind and financial well-being are well worth the investment!
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