When people get asked about travel insurance, it’s not uncommon for them to respond with a skeptical look and, “What? Isn’t that just another thing we don’t need that costs extra money?”
The truth is, purchasing the right travel insurance is the best way to protect against the unexpected. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball to tell you when bad things will happen.
Here are some important basics when it comes to purchasing and using travel insurance.
JUST LIKE SHOES, ONE POLICY DOES NOT FIT ALL.
Most cruise companies sell one kind of travel insurance whether you are five or ninety-five. They are not thinking about whether it will cover you; they’re only trying to cover their bases and check off the list that they offered you insurance.
When you buy travel insurance, ensure that you purchase a policy from a reputable company. There are many coverage options; make sure you understand exactly what coverage you are purchasing. The most important aspect of coverage is a pre-existing medical condition clause. If your policy has this clause, then you may not be fully covered. Think about all those aches and pains you have that you did not have when you were five. What about the medicine you are taking? Your travel professional will be able to recommend reliable companies to you and help you understand your coverage needs.
WHAT SHOULD YOUR INSURANCE COVER?
When we think of travel insurance, we often only think of lost baggage or missing our flight. Benefits vary from one insurance company to another. In an emergency, the benefits you receive depend on the research you have done and the situations you have prepared for. When an emergency happens, it’s too late to figure all that out, and if you do not have the proper information, you will not receive your benefits. You need to know before you go what to do in case of an emergency.
For example: What if you are climbing the Great Wall of China, fall, and break a hip? How do you get care if you don’t know the language or you are traveling alone? Travel insurance, in this case, is literally a lifesaver.
A dependable travel insurance policy will make sure you get the proper care and will contact your travel professional. If you need a translator, one will be provided. Once you are treated, transportation back to your home or back on board ship will be made available.
Additionally, a good policy will cover misplaced prescription glasses, cameras and cell phones.
FOR THE UNTHINKABLE AND RARE SITUATIONS.
What if you miss your ship in a foreign port? You have no money, no passport, and you are waving to your friends as they sail away without you. If you have the right travel insurance, other than being embarrassed, you’ll be no worse for wear, because your travel insurance company will get you back on board ship at the next port.
What if you are on board the ship or in a foreign country and you need to be evacuated to a hospital in the United States? In 2002, this happen to me. I found myself with a dying husband in a foreign country. I will not go into details, but I do want to say that I did get my husband back to United States. It is very important to read and understand your policy’s details.
Emergency evacuations and repatriation of remains can be very expensive. They can be anywhere from $50,000.00 to $250,000.00 or more. Just like in the United States, medical bills could wipe out your savings and assets. However, with the proper travel insurance, you need not worry.
TRAVEL INSURANCE CHECKLIST.
- Read and understand the insurance policy.
- Know exactly who to contact in case of an emergency.
- Always keep a copy of your travel insurance confirmation with your travel documents and review the travel insurance certificate for claim procedures and exclusions before your trip.
- Keep a copy of the confirmation number and emergency contact numbers with your passport.
- Leave a copy of your travel insurance confirmation at home with a trusted friend or family member and include your travel professional’s phone number and personal physician’s phone number in the event it is needed.
- Normally, one call to your travel insurance provider should provide medical, legal and travel assistance services, available 24/7.
- Keep a copy of the policy in your suitcase where someone else can find it, if necessary.
- Contact the insurance company prior to departure to answer any questions you might have.
FILING A CLAIM.
Document any out-of-pocket expenses; they may qualify for reimbursement. If treated by a physician, make sure to get an itemized statement of the medical treatment showing a diagnosis. This is so important to remember: The insurance companies legally cannot and will not pay unless you have proper documentation.
For example, if your wallet is stolen in a Paris café, get the manager’s name and telephone number and document the time and place.
Get documentation from the airline for lost or delayed baggage. Keep receipts for clothing and toiletry purchases due to baggage delay or lost luggage.
Make sure you are working with an experienced IATA/CLIA travel professional. We have spent many hours in training; are well-traveled and very knowledgeable. Usually an insurance company will notify your travel agent and we will be able to help you.
This information is for general, informational purposes only. As each travel insurance policy is different, it is the consumer’s responsibly to read and understand their policy.
If you refuse to buy insurance, you must sign a waiver and understand that if the unexpected happens, you are on your own.
WORKING WITH A TRAVEL PROFESSIONAL.
Make sure you are working with an experienced travel professional. Our many hours of training and our firsthand travel experience make us a valuable resource in an emergency situation.
When so many travel options out there, it can be overwhelming. I work as your “value interpreter” before you travel and I am there to help you if the unexpected happens during your trip. However, you need to have the right insurance; otherwise I am limited as to how much help I can give.
The next time you’re planning your dream vacation, don’t forget to pack along the most important item of all: the sense of security that comes with a high-quality travel insurance policy. You can play and rest easy with the knowledge that you’ll be well taken care of should the unexpected happen!