You should always be offered insurance, by your travel agent, when you arrange your trip. If not, ask, because it will be on your own head if anything goes wrong.
A Cheap Policy or Not?
When a travel insurance policy is issued there are a number of allocations if the premium, agents commissions, administrative costs, some goes towards profit and what’s left over goes towards the actual insurance coverage. So, you can see, if it’s a cheap travel insurance policy, something is going to miss out and you can bet it will be the level of coverage.
If you buy a regular travel insurance policy, that is, you fill out a form and send it to the insuarance company with your remittance there are a lot of costs involves. A better way would to get a wholesale policy (which travel agents do sell) where the administration costs are dramactically reduced, meaning more money is spent on the actual coverage.
Some tour operators and agents provide an “in-house” travel insurance policy and, often, all it covers is their own cancellation fees and little else. It may be cheaper but will not give you much travel insurance coverage.
Another way to reduce costs, which depends on the level of travel you are going to do, is to purhase an annual travel insurance policy. This is buying in bulk and is likely to be much less expensive than the one-off trip policy.
Primary or Secondry Travel Insurance Cover?
These 2 types of cover determine the way the payouts are made. The primary travel insurance cover means that the company will “Pay First”, that is the payment will be paid to the claim maker. The secondary travel insurance cover means they will pay only after you’ve have claimed as much as you can from other insurance cover that you may have. So, you can see that the primary cover is a lot better than the secondry cover.
What Type Of Coverage Will You Need?
It’s fair to say the 2 biggest risks that are covered by most travel insurance policies are the costs of changing your travel plans and and any medical care and emergency assistance that is required while you are away.
Most travel insurance policies will include a few hundred dollars for baggage/loss/damage/delay, loss of travel documents and other small sum for flight delay or interuption. Some will also cover for someone to fly out to you if you are to be hospitalised for more than 2 or 3 days.
Another major cost, and I must admit I never thought of this one before, can be supplier bankruptcy. Many time the supplier of your travel insurance policy are unable to have the policy to cover thier own bankruptcy. This would be another good reason to have an independent policy from the company arranging your travel.
Most travel insurance policies include a large amount of air death insurance, but surprisingly, it’s of very low value item about 25 cents for a $100,000 cover. I suppose this indicates how safe air travel is.
Some travel isurance policies will also cover car rental risks and this may be an important thing to consider as car rental insurance policies are extremely expensive.
Trip Cancellation/Change Coverage
To understand the possible costs that you may need if you have to change your itinery or cancel the trip, if you have pruchased an unrestricted first class ticket there may be not any costs associated with changing the ticket as this is usually covered in the purchase price.
It may seem strange but the the cheapest ticket has the most risk attached to it as far as cancellation/change is concerned. It can cost a heap more to change the cheap fare to return home on a different flight than the original purchase price of the ticket.
You will have to be aware that when some travel insurance policies state that they will cover ‘your total trip cost’ you may think that the full charges are covered, but this may not be so. Let’s say that your discounted fare cost $590 and you have a package that actually costs $895 and you have to change you may find the return trip will cost more than the whole package. Maybe you will have to pay another $1120 to get home on a no advanced one way return ticket.
I had this experience a few years ago when I had to rush home for my Father’s funeral. Because of time restrictions I had to buy a non-discounted ticket. After not feeling well all day, when I finally arrived at the airport I succumbed to a middle ear infection. So with all the vomitting and the different air pressures that come with flying there was no I could get on a aircraft. But, as I had purchased a full fare, there was problems in changing my flight to the next morning. Goes to show that you can’t always control your circumstances.
The more restictive travel insurance policies may exclude circumstances that are deemmed ‘under your own control’, and perhaps this may include work related issues. Let’s say you are about to leave work and you are told there is an issue that has to be solved and that you leave has to be deffered. There’s a very good chance that this type of travel insurance would no pay out because of this reason.
Medical Care and Emergency Assistance
Some people mistakenly think that their home medical insuarnce policy will cover all costs wherever they are in the world. They may find that that it doesn’t cover at all, or the deductions will be much higher or perhaps their medical costs are covered but not any related transport costs.
You may be on a cruise and you need some medical attention by the ship’s doctor. There is a good chance that their services are charged for as with any other doctor. You may have to be flown home on a stretcher and this will involve blocking out nine seats, can you imagine how much that would cost. You should make sure that you have travel insurance of at least $10,000 or more to cover these emergencies. Let’s imagine you are in a remote area and you break a leg and you need to be lifted out by a helicopter, this is what good travel insurance is all about.
Imagine your worst case travel mishap scenario and decide whether you need travel insurance. This may be the cancellation of the whole trip coupled with the associated cancellation costs or some emergency medical mishap that will require medivac and local care. I know these are horrible thoughts but if you can’t afford to self-insure the expenditure of around $100 on travel insurance will give you the piece of mind and one less thing to worry about.