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  • Writer's pictureChristine Hardenberger

Demystifying Travel Insurance

When you’re quoted by your travel agent or look online for package deals, there’s this little option so many pass over – the muddied waters known as travel or trip insurance. What is it? What does it cover? What do I really get? And why does my travel agent keep asking me if I want it?

The main purpose of travel insurance is to provide financial compensation should your trip be delayed, cancelled, or interrupted. It also comes in many variations, and not all are created equal. Travel insurance, regardless, is truly one of the best values you can purchase with your hard-earned trip investment. The key is being educated on the benefits you’re purchasing and the value of that benefit.

Depending on the policy chosen, some of the benefits may include:

  • Trip cancellation

  • Trip interruption

  • Trip delay

  • Baggage loss/damage

  • Emergency medical evacuation (to get you back to the United States if injured or ill outside the country)

  • Waiver of pre-existing condition exclusions (often a buy-up option, if available)

  • Emergency Medical reimbursement benefit

  • Emergency Dental reimbursement benefit

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment (aka AD&D, similar to what one may have through your employer-paid life insurance benefit)

  • Repatriation (bringing your earthly remains back home for burial)

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and the dollar coverage of all of the benefits will vary. Keep in mind that when looking at travel insurance, the old adage can be very true – you get what you pay for. Rock bottom premium may also mean rock bottom coverage when you need it the most.

Many operators, like Disney, and online travel sites offer a travel insurance policy add-on option in their packages. The ones we’ve reviewed tend to be on the more basic side in terms of benefit coverage. Coverage and premium pricing vary, depending on the specific carrier and operator.

Regardless of where you go or where you stay, you can purchase an outside travel insurance policy. If you’re working with a travel agent, ask them for a quote. Many agencies, including Modern Travel Professionals, have a relationship with one or more companies who provide different levels of comprehensive coverage at a variety of price points.

When you’re considering a travel insurance policy, ask to see a coverage document so you can view what you’re getting for your premium. You can also ask for the insurer’s customer service number to ask more detailed information on coverage and exclusions included within the policy you’re considering. Keep in mind that there is a high likelihood that your travel agent may not be able to answer detailed questions. This isn’t because they’re ignorant, but because legally they are not able to answer. Insurance regulations vary by state, but the general rules enforced prohibit someone without a specific license answering specific benefit questions or providing comparative recommendations on which policy to buy. So, don’t be afraid to ask for the customer service number – your agent will thank you.

Ok. You’ve bought the policy. Now, when would that great value I mentioned come in handy?

Life happens, and, in accordance with Murphy’s Law, at the most inopportune time. Travel insurance is built to help when, oh, say a hurricane delays your trip to Walt Disney World by a few days (or keeps you there an extra couple of days). This happened to our family as well as that of our clients who were traveling in October 2016 during Hurricane Matthew. There were those who were either traveling down to the House of Mouse OR were already there and couldn’t get home on their departure days. Insurance reimbursed for things like airfare differentials, extra hotel room nights, and extra car rental days.

The medical benefit in a policy comes in quite handy for injuries and illness. It is very important to remember that many United States-based health insurance plans, including many employer-sponsored plans, do not cover emergency services outside of the country. Outside the country means just that – anywhere outside the United States. If you get sick or injured, you’re on your own and many out of country hospitals require payment in full before you leave the facility. For any family traveling with food allergies, travel insurance is a must.

Then, there’s the stuff that you think will never happen to you. A client of one of our business partners was saved a $30,000 expense after she was injured during a shore excursion in the Caribbean. The insurer worked directly with the hospital on the client’s behalf. After a couple of days undergoing the initial treatment, the client was medically evacuated back to the United States. A $250 premium was exchanged for a $30,000 savings and a huge peace of mind.

I hope we've been able to remove some of the mystery of travel insurance. As travel agents, we can't recommend enough the value and peace of mind that a comprehensive policy will provide for you and your family, wherever you may roam.

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