Water Travel highly recommends purchasing traveler's insurance.
article below answers some common questions about traveler's
insurance and should give you an idea of what is, and is not,
commonly covered. If
you have more questions, please give us a call and we will be
discuss the oh-so-fun topic of insurance with you.
Is travel insurance worth it?
The answer is
a resounding "yes"...sometimes
By Carol Sottili
Re-printed from original article in the Washinton
June 16, 2004
Mantini's 80-year-old mother-in-law always wanted to visit her
native Poland with her
grandchildren. But last summer, just before they purchased the
trip, Mantini's father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. Mantini
said they had no reason to believe he was in any immediate danger,
but, to be safe, she bought travel insurance recommended by her
travel agent: $168 policies for each of the seven travelers.
When her father-in-law died
unexpectedly three weeks later, shortly before they were to depart,
Mantini's family canceled
They subsequently put in a claim with the insurance provider,
assuming their situation would be covered. But the company, World
refused to pay—and Mantini's family was out more than $10,000.
isn't alone in being blindsided by the nuances of travel insurance.
The process seems straightforward: Pay the premium,
protect your investment. But in reality, it's a complex, often
baffling product that flummoxes many.
Peter Evans, executive vice
president of Insuremytrip.com, which sells travel insurance from
14 companies, says, “People
don't understand what travel insurance is.” Policies, he
explained, basically cover three areas: trip cancellation protection,
coverage and medical evacuation. Beyond the basics, there is
also baggage loss and delay, trip delay and accidental death.
simple, but there are idiosyncrasies in each policy that
can come back to haunt a traveler who doesn't pay attention to
Jeffrey Miller, a Columbia attorney
who represents travel companies, said, “It's not necessarily
critical that a traveler read all the fine print, but they must
ask whether their
situation is covered. For example, if you live with an elderly
aunt, ask, ‘Am I covered if something happens to her?’ ”
says a good travel agent should be able to ensure that you get
the right policy. But not all agents keep up with the
of these policies, which are constantly changing. Internet sites
such as Insuremytrip.com and Quotetravelinsurance.com can also
help because they post charts that compare specific aspects of
each policy. But an astute consumer will click on the details
box to make sure the coverage is as broad as possible.
“Look at the exclusions,” said
Evans. “Let's say you're
going mountain climbing. Well, that activity is excluded by
In Mantini's case, her policy
stated that preexisting conditions would be waived if the insurance
within 14 calendar
days of making the first trip deposit, a common insurance clause.
Mantini did purchase the policy within the 14 days. But Emily
Porter, vice president of marketing for Access America, the
World Access that provides travel insurance, said there is
another clause in the policy that states, “General exclusions
include any expected or foreseeable events.”
is like trying to buy hurricane insurance for your home right
after the weather service has predicted a hurricane for your
said in an e-mail. “There is a chance it won't hit your
home, since hurricanes are unpredictable, but either way, the
company isn't going to cover the forecasted hurricane if it
Mantini, who is still fighting
the decision, sees the situation differently. “We bought
the insurance because we didn't know what was going to happen,” she
said. “I thought that
was what insurance was for. It's partly my fault because I
didn't read the fine print. But I assumed insurance would cover
What you need to ask
Short of sending a prospective
travel insurance policy to a lawyer, travelers can protect themselves
by matching the right
to their situation. Here are a few answers to commonly asked
I need to purchase travel insurance?
you're traveling domestically by car and staying
at your brother-in-law's house, probably not. But if you're
thousands of dollars into a trip to a resort, traveling out
of the country or going with a group of relatives or friends,
a good idea. According to figures from the U.S. Travel Insurance
Association, an umbrella group of seven of the nation's largest
travel insurance companies, only 12 percent of travelers took
out insurance before 9/11; that percentage has grown to 20
to 25 percent.
Few travel providers offer easy refunds, so without trip insurance,
you very well may be out of luck. Some medical insurance will
cover you outside the country, but extras—like paying
for someone to escort you home—will not be included.
Also, if you have a costly, benefits-filled credit card, you
may have some
but check first.
there different kinds of travel insurance?
a list of travel insurance policies is like
looking at a menu at a Greek diner— there are pages of
choices. Most travelers opt for a package deal, which includes
trip protection, baggage loss and medical evacuation. But many
new products cover specific situations. For example, Travel
Guard recently launched Cruise Guard for cruise passengers.
America developed QuickTrip for last-minute travelers who don't
insurance but want medical and trip interruption coverage.
Medjet International markets a product that's not actually
but for a yearly fee, you can be airlifted to the hospital
of your choice in case of a medical emergency. There are also
for students and yearly policies for business travelers.
Question: Will I be covered if my travel provider ceases operation?
Some insurance providers, such as Access America, list the tour
companies and airlines they'll cover; United
and other airlines in bankruptcy proceedings are not covered.
policies, including some from CSA Travel Protection, will cover
bankruptcy if the policy is purchased within a certain time
period of the initial trip payment. And others, such as Travel
will cover you only if no alternative transportation is available.
Question: If a hurricane or another weather disaster hits, will my vacation
policies do not cover weather disasters, unless everything is
shut down. So if
planes are running and the resort
you'll have to take the trip or lose your money, regardless
of the conditions. Some real estate agents in local resorts,
as Village Realty in Nags Head, N.C., offer a policy from CSA
that will refund your trip cost for mandatory hurricane evacuations
on a prorated basis. Travel Guard also has a product that covers
Question: Will insurance policies
cover my luggage?
just about every package policy covers luggage loss or delay,
plan, for example, will pay up to $2,500 for lost luggage and
up to $600 ($200 max a day) to replace items in luggage delayed
at least 24 hours, while its cheaper TraveLite plan limits
claims to $1,000 and $250, respectively.
I get sick and need to be
evacuated, will the policy pay?
most package policies will pay, but there are limitations. Almost
all policies state
they will transport you only
as far as the "nearest adequate medical facility," which
is determined by them, not you. Some say you must be critically
ill or injured to qualify. Some allow the attending physician
to decide whether you need to be evacuated, while others say
program directors will make the call.
Question: Am I covered
in the event of a terrorist attack?
80 percent of policies cover terrorism, according to Evans of
Many have added this coverage
since the post-9/11 insurance fiasco, when cruise companies
up passengers by van the day after the event and forcing them
onto ships, and many travel insurance companies were refusing
even those living near Ground Zero to change their travel plans.
Policies vary (for examples, see chart). Some cover terrorism
in your city of departure and arrival, others just in the arrival
city, and others include connecting cities. Some say a terrorist
attack must have occurred within 30 days, others say 10 days.
Question: What happens if my cousin, to whom I'm very close, gets seriously
ill? Can I cancel?
Anwer: It depends.
Many companies cover family members as long as they're hospitalized.
your cousin breaks
you probably won't be covered unless you're responsible for
care. Some companies, such as CSA and Access America, cover
domestic partners; others, including Specialty Risk International,
business partners. Just about all will pay for your cancellation
if your travel companion becomes too sick to travel.
Question: How about preexisting conditions? If I had a heart attack 10
years ago, will I not be covered if I have another
close attention to preexisting condition clauses, and give serious
your family demographics, your
and possible situations. Most policies say that a preexisting
condition is one diagnosed or treated 120 days prior to purchase.
So if you
had a heart attack a year ago and you've recovered, that wouldn't
be considered a preexisting condition. Most policies also waive
preexisting conditions as long as you're stable and you purchase
within a certain period of buying the trip. But again, policies
can differ. For example, iTravelInsured won't waive preexisting
conditions for those over 70 who have ongoing medical issues.
Question: Is there a policy that will cover me if I simply don't feel like
policy will refund your money if you change your mind. Some cruise
Cruise West and Princess)
operators (such as Trafalgar) offer "peace of mind" policies
that allow you to receive cancellation penalty refunds in the
form of a credit toward a future vacation, but they don't just
you your money back unless your trip is so far in the future
that you still qualify for a refund.
Question: How do I find
insurance? Should I buy the policies offered by cruise lines,
travel agents and tour operators,
or should I
Answer: The downside of going through your cruise
line or tour operator is that you won't be covered if they go
Also, many tour operators cover only trip protection, not medical
Travel insurance is commissionable, so travel agents may want
to push a certain product. Shop around to get the best coverage
the best price. Even if you go through a travel agent, read
the policy. But if the cruise company or tour operator is reputable,
the price competitive and the policy covers peace-of-mind cancellations
and medical, your best bet might be to go through them.
Question: How much should insurance cost?
Answer: According to Evans,
the rule of thumb is between 5 and 7.5 percent of the trip's
depending on coverage levels.
Younger people will pay less, older people will pay more. For
a $3,200 trip taken by a couple of 25-year-olds should cost
$223 to insure with a top-of-the-line policy, while an 85-year-old
couple would pay about $890 for the same coverage.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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