By Kaleel Sakakeeny
Travelers face two major potential financial losses:
1) They could lose the non-refundable, pre-paid portion of a trip if they have to cancel the trip or interrupt it.
2) They can face the expenses of medical costs associated with an illness and maybe repatriation.
A comprehensive travel policy will cover these loses if it provides Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption coverage. Travel is costly, and this provision reimburses the traveler's pre-paid, non-refundable portion of a trip, if the traveler has to cancel his or her trip or return home for covered reasons: Typically, this means illness, injury, jury duty, and death in the immediate family.
These policies usually must be purchased within seven to fifteen days of booking a trip and making a deposit, in order to be covered against financial default and waiver of pre-existing medical conditions.
Travel-related coverage, the kind usually available through credit cards, health care plans, and homeowners insurance often falls short of the kind of coverage provided by a comprehensive Travel Insurance policy offered by companies like Travel Guard (800-826-1300; travelguard.com), and Access America (800-284-8300; accessamerica.com). [NOTE: Geek Cruises likes both of these companies and their products. We prefer, however, the Global Alert Enhanced product from Global Alert (800-423-3632) because they do not consider any condition for which are you being treated (or taking medicine) a "pre-existing" condition — which means you are covered for your known, but treated, health issues even if you purchase the Global Alert insurance 30 days after booking.]
A clear sign of the times, for example, is the fact that Access America, one of the largest travel protection providers in the US, recently expanded its definition of family to include cohabiting couples of whatever configuration.
Not to be outdone, Travel Guard has broadened the definition of "traveling companion" to include members of a traveling party that have a shared itinerary, but do not share accommodations.
Key insurers like Access America and Travel Guard have already made coverage of terrorist incidents here and abroad part of their standard benefits.
• Medical Expenses. Comprehensive
travel insurance becomes the primary coverage for medical and surgical
expense while traveling, a major benefit since standard health coverage
often isn't valid outside the U.S.
• Medical Evacuation. Some
credit card policies arrange medical emergency transportation (at the
cardholders expense). The more comprehensive travel insurance plans pay
airfare, medical escort, and transportation to the nearest adequate medical
facility. A medical evacuation can easily cost many thousands of dollars.
• Baggage Protection. Look
for a policy that provides coverage above and beyond standard reimbursements
by the airline. Ideally, buy from a
• Many reliable insurance companies including Travel Guard now include a Concierge Service, which takes care of a traveler's restaurant needs, ground transportation services, event tickets, tee times and even flower arrangements.
For those seeking only to protect their plane tickets, a huge percent of the public, Travel Guard has come up with an Air Ticket Protection Plan that covers ticket-change fees, as well as full ticket costs in the event of cancelled or interrupted travel, for covered reasons.
In this "Buyer Beware" world, read the fine print, and buy coverage with a third-party company that's been around the travel track.