UNDERSTANDING TRAVEL INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CRUISES AND OTHER VACATIONS
While safety records have improved considerably in the 100 hundred years since the sinking of the, supposedly “unsinkable” Titanic ocean liner on April 15th 1912, disasters at sea, in the sky and on land continue to confront travelers in all parts of the world. Fortunately, travel insurance can provide valuable assistance and financial protection, according to the Insurance Information Institute(I.I.I.).
“Purchasing a travel insurance policy certainly won’t prevent a disaster from happening, but having the right coverage can make things much easier if the unexpected occurs,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “Travel insurance can protect your financial investment in a vacation or business trip and offer peace of mind by providing valuable assistance if there is a natural catastrophe, illness or other emergency while you are on a trip.”
Most travel insurance policies include three basic types of coverage:
- Trip cancellation, interruption or delay: Provides coverage should you have to cancel a trip due to sickness, a death in the family, bad weather, delayed luggage or another disaster listed in the policy. In addition, if you or an immediate family member become seriously ill or are injured during the trip some travel insurance policies will reimburse you for the unused portion of the vacation. There may be an exclusion for pre-existing conditions, so check your policy carefully. Lastly, some travel insurance policies may provide coverage if the cruise or tour operator goes out of business. If this is a concern, read your insurance policy carefully to make sure it includes this scenario. If you are paying by credit card, you can also talk to the card issuer to see if the company also provides financial protection for this type of event.
For an additional fee, some insurance companies also offer a “Cancel for Any Reason” provision, which covers insured travelers if they “cancel their trip due to the fear of something that may happen” such as civil unrest, a pandemic or the possibility of a natural disaster.
- Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation: Provides coverage if you become sick or injured while traveling. For example, if you had to be airlifted off a mountain due to a skiing or hiking accident, or if you had to stay for a prolonged period of time in a hospital outside the United States. It would also provide coverage if you got seriously sick or were injured and needed to be flown home. Some commercial airlines require very sick passengers to travel on a stretcher with a doctor. This means that you might have to purchase additional seats on a plane which can be very costly. A travel insurance policy will often reimburse you for that potential expense.
- 24-hour Assistance: This is a service is provided by most travel insurance companies and can help travelers find doctors, arrange accommodations, contact families or provide other forms assistance in case of an emergency.
Other travel-related coverages may include: Accidental Death, should you or a family member die during the course of a trip; andLuggage Insurance or Personal Effects Coverage, which provides protection if your luggage and/or personal belongings are lost, stolen or damaged during the trip.
The cost of a travel insurance policy is based upon the age of the traveler, the specific coverages selected and the cost of the trip. On average, standard trip insurance policies will cost about 5 to 7 percent of the cost of the trip.
It is important to note that travel insurance is different from the cancellation waivers that many cruise and tour operators offer. Waivers are not insurance; they are relatively inexpensive (approximately $40 to $60) and provide coverage if you have to cancel the trip, but come with many restrictions and are not regulated by state insurance departments. So if your tour or cruise operator gets into financial difficulty, you may not be able to collect any money under the waiver.
There are many different travel insurance companies and types of policies to pick from. When deciding whether travel insurance is right for you, compare companies, policy coverage, benefits and prices. Also find out both what is included and what is excluded. And check your current health and homeowners insurance policies to see what coverage you have. For example, many people are surprised to find that their medical insurance may not cover them in international waters, and may provide no coverage at all for medical evacuation.
To get the travel insurance policy that is right for your situation, talk to your insurance professional or your travel agent. A detailed list of questions to ask when purchasing travel insurance is also available from the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.
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