Travel Insurance: A Safe Bet

When it comes to insurance, I can think of no other situation where I am betting against myself. When you think about it, you buy auto insurance because, in essence, you are betting the insurance company that you will get into an accident and they are betting you won’t. I think of my premium as my wager. It is the same for health insurance. I bet the insurance company that some medical calamity will occur to me and send in my monthly “wager.”

Of course, insurance is really about redistributing risk among a large number of people, which in turn reduces losses from accidents incurred by an individual. In today’s world insurance is really a necessity and not an option. Certain coverages are mandated by law. In fact, a lot are mandated.

Please don’t think I am against insurance; I’m not. In fact, I am a big advocate of a special brand of insurance that many people overlook. Specifically, travel insurance.  

Over the years I have seen heart-wrenching situations where someone declined to purchase travel insurance because “I don’t need it” only to have something unexpected and horrible happen. Travel insurance is designed to minimize the financial strain caused by the simple need to have to cancel a trip due to covered sickness, injury or death of your family member, traveling companion, business partner, or you. Of course, no one expects that to happen to him or her. Or, when traveling, no one expects to have a medical emergency requiring immediate care or hospitalization. Much personal insurance coverage people have will not cover them if they are traveling outside the United States and require medical care. Personal insurance certainly will not protect them from the cost of canceling a trip. Travel insurance will.  

The trip cancellation aspect of travel insurance also protects you for reasons beyond sickness, injury or death of afamily member. You are protected for an unforeseen bankruptcy or financial default of a travel supplier (think airline, as well as hotel, car, tour wholesaler, and so on); or for a strike that causes complete cessation of services of your common carrier; or for weather which causes complete cessation of services. You can cancel a trip and receive a full refund in the event of employer termination or layoff affecting you or a person sharing the same room (minimum employment period required). Coverage also includes acts of terrorism, being called to jury duty or being subpoenaed by a court, burglary of your residence, felonious assault to you or your traveling companion, if you are called to emergency military duty for a natural disaster other than war, or if you are involved in an auto accident while en route to your scheduled departure point. All will cover you in the event of cancellation for any nonreimbursed expenses up to the level of your policy.

Travel insurance also will cover a trip interruption for one of the above-listed unforeseen reasons. Any unused nonrefundable expenses for travel arrangements will be refunded. Also included is one-way economy transportation to return to the original departure point or to rejoin your trip, and certain accommodations and transportation expenses when a traveling companion must remain hospitalized, or a covered injury or sickness not requiring hospitalization prevents you from continuing travel.

Add the medical benefits including medical evacuation/repatriation and coverage for trip delay, itinerary change, baggage and baggage delay, and you can see the coverage is quite extensive.

Typically, it is recommended one purchase the policy from one of the major insurance companies specializing in travel insurance such as Travel Guard or Travelex. Many tour companies will offer their own insurance that will provide limited coverage, which of course does no good if the company itself goes out of business.

A growing problem with Internet purchases is the often-overlooked option of purchasing travel insurance. It is either not offered or is designed to protect the Internet company more than the traveler. This is another reason to consult with your professional travel agent. Your agent can direct you to information on the proper type of insurance to cover your specific needs and in the proper amounts of coverage necessary to protect you.

So, the next time you are planning your travel, remember to include travel insurance. It is a good bet!

Michael Jackman is president of International Tours, a full-service travel agency, and president of GalaxSea Cruises, specializing in cruise vacations. Both offices are located in Okemos. A 19-year veteran of the travel industry, Jackman has received many awards and designations including Master Cruise Counselor by the Cruise Lines International Association.








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