In my previous post about travel tips for the trip planner, I left out one item that can cause a lot of confusion. What’s that thing that can throw travelers into a tizzy before they even hit the road? Travel insurance. You know, trip cancellation insurance or travel health insurance.
Travel insurance is a rip off!
Yup, that’s what I used to think. The first time I ever purchased travel insurance was more than 10 years ago. I was in my mid-30’s, fairly fit and healthy, and primarily concerned about missing flights due to delays and not to health or accidents. On that particular trip, our first flight was delayed, which caused us to miss our connecting flight. The connecting flight was the last one of the evening, so we were stuck spending the night at a hotel.
Upon our safe arrival home the next day, I looked into how to file a claim with our travel insurance since we were delayed more than four hours. We were supposed to have arrived home at 10:00 P.M. on a Saturday evening. Instead, we did not arrive home until Sunday afternoon. According to my math, that’s more than four hours late. The summary of our policy said that we were covered for that. Alas, the fine print stated that our actual flight needed to have been delayed by four or more hours. Since our flight was “only” delayed by two hours, even though that caused us to miss our connecting flight and pay for dinner, a hotel, breakfast and lunch the next day, we were not covered by the insurance policy. What a waste of money!
Enter: trip cancellation insurance and travel health insurance.
Now that our bodies are a little older and little more worn down, my husband and I have discovered the importance of trip insurance – not necessarily for flight delays, but more for trip cancellation insurance or travel health insurance.
My husband developed a medical condition which caused his doctor to advise him not to travel overseas. We’d already planned a trip around a presentation that I was scheduled to give in London. Being spoiled by Southwest Airlines’ no change fees policy and not having a great experience all those years ago with travel insurance, you might have guessed that we didn’t purchase travel insurance for this upcoming trip.
As soon as we received the news from the doctor, you can bet I jumped online to figure out what our options were.
What I learned about travel insurance:
1) Find a travel insurance specialist. Working with an expert usually saves you time in the long run.
2) If you don’t know an expert, you can use a website called InsureMyTrip.com. You can fill out information about yourself and your trip, and the website’s search function will bring up your options. Even more importantly, it has a “compare” option so that you can peruse policy summaries side by side.
3) To optimize the aforementioned “compare” function, decide what your travel insurance need is. Do you want coverage for delays, trip cancellation insurance, travel health insurance, evacuation, trip interruption due to weather or acts of terrorism, etc.?
4) For the best coverage at the lowest rates, purchase your travel insurance policy within one week of paying for the most expensive part of your trip.
5) Many policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions. If they do, many require that you purchase the policy within 48 hours of your first booking.
6) Read the fine print. Make sure you know exactly what you’re covered – and not covered – for.
Next week: Find out how we dealt with our predicament.
For more info about travel insurance – and other productivity tools and travel tips – from time management keynote speaker Helene Segura, click here.