Travel Insurance: It Pays to Know Your Coverage

December 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve ever suffered a missed flight or hours-long delay because of weather, mechanical problems, or even a computer system failure, you understand why travel insurance has become a popular must-have item among business travelers.

Passengers may miss flights due to airline delays, spending a night either in the airport or a nearby hotel. They have to make new travel arrangements, cut trips short, or switch airlines to get to their final destination.

Travel insurance won’t prevent this from happening, but there are certain situations that travel insurance would cover for you, such as reimbursement for meals and hotels, or new tickets, or even the purchase price of the plane ticket and hotel reservations.

Travel can be cut short for any number of reasons — airline problems, sickness, death in the family, political unrest, strikes — so it makes sense to consider your options before you travel.

Without travel insurance, you may end up sleeping at the airport.

Without travel insurance, you may end up sleeping at the airport.

Some credit cards offer insurance when you use it to buy your ticket, but travel insurance is not equal in their remuneration. So it pays to examine your options carefully before you buy insurance.

If you’re wondering where to start, we suggest Squaremouth. The online site provides one-stop comparison shopping for all major travel insurance providers in the United States. It’s crucial that you read the language carefully before purchasing coverage so that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.

In certain situations, some passengers will have coverage for missed flights due to airline delays, but won’t have coverage if a flight is canceled. Some policies also offer reimbursement for delay-related expenses, such as meals and hotel rooms, but all receipts must be saved and submitted with your claim. (Be sure to take photos of all your receipts on your mobile phone.)

If you bought your ticket through a travel agency, many agents play a key role when an unexpected interruption in their clients’ travel plans causes headaches. In these types of situations, one of the perks of using an agent is that they will act as your liaisons with the insurance broker. Some travel insurance companies offer concierge service, which will handle procuring a ticket on another flight and making a hotel reservation while you are stranded, waiting to see what will happen next.

Travel insurance policies can offer multiple, cumulative payouts for mishaps that occur during a single itinerary. For example, if your flight was delayed, and you were stranded on the tarmac for several hours, and your bags didn’t reach your final destination, all three of those incidents may entitle you to remuneration. That scenario netted one customer of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection Air Care $1550.

If you didn’t purchase separate travel insurance, you might still be able to collect for an unanticipated inconvenience by enlisting the services of AirHelp. This automated service works with a team of lawyers to determine if your claim is worthy of compensation, and there’s no fee unless a claim is paid.

Life happens. The unexpected can’t be avoided. But before you travel again, consider purchasing a little peace of mind to make the unexpected a lot easier to handle.

Do you get travel insurance, or do you just fly and hope for the best? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Bart Van Poll (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Making the Case for Travel Insurance

November 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Most people think travel insurance is a way to recoup the cost of an airline ticket in the event of a personal emergency or health situation that makes it impossible for them to complete their travels.

But travel insurance is more than just personal insurance. Consider the impact this year’s terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris, to mention just a few, have had on the travel industry and travelers’ plans.

While travel insurance rates haven’t spiked, or changed at all, since these events, the commodity with the terrorism clause has been standard since September 11, 2001. In fact, according to an article in The New York Times, companies like squaremouth.com have a special section of their travel insurance site dedicated to policies that prospective travelers can search to find terrorism coverage.

Travel insurance vending machines in Japan

Travel insurance vending machines in Japan

Travelers should understand that insurance with this clause doesn’t provide blanket coverage. In fact, it’s very narrow. For example, it will not cover a trip already in progress, but might allow you to get a refund if an act of terrorism has occurred within 30 days of your scheduled departure. The policy may also exclude coverage in the event of a terrorist attack if you choose to travel to an area known for terrorist activity or where an attack has already happened.

According to Christina Tunnah, regional manager for the travel insurance company World Nomads, two factors determine whether or not you’ll be able to submit a claim: 1) When you purchased the insurance, and 2) How your plans were impacted by the terrorism. In some instances, for a claim to be paid, the event may have to be officially declared a terrorist attack. She always advises travelers to call.

“Traditionally, insurance doesn’t cover fear,” Tunnah told the New York Times. “Yet there are some practicalities that might cause a travel insurance company to make an exception. It’s always very case by case.”

While the odds of being impacted by an act of terrorism while traveling are exceedingly slim, knowing your options will help you make an informed, objective decision.

Do you usually purchase travel insurance? Are you considering it more now than before? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Mark Yang (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

Travel Mistakes You’re Not Too Smart to Make

May 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Conde Nast Traveler discusses some common travel mistakes that many travelers think they’re too smart to make.

In other words, even the wiliest traveler can fall prey to these common trip-ups from time to time.

This includes mistakes like paying the airline ticket change fees. Instead of paying a high change fee, the article suggests that you go with an airline that will allow you to change tickets fairly easily if you need to. American Airlines has a travel insurance-like program that does cost a bit, but lets you make changes for free. And Southwest tickets can generally be changed for free if you make the move far enough in advance or for a fairly small amount closer to departure.

English: Cafe Evropa in Prague Ελληνικά: Η Αρ-...

Cafe Evropa in Prague (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another thing that stood out to us was the credit card foreign transaction fee when traveling internationally. You generally want to use your credit card when traveling to get the best exchange rate, but having to pay a fee works against you. So try to get a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee and carry some cash to use for small purchases. If you are traveling overseas, try to exchange your money at your local bank. Generally, the exchange fees are lower than exchanging at your overseas destination.

The article also recommends that you don’t try to tough it out and figure out everything in your destination on your own. Instead, take some time to ask someone at your hotel how to do something or how to get to a particular destination. You can waste your vacation getting overly wrapped up in basic logistics, when you could find the fastest mode of transportation and spend more time enjoying the sights.

Do research in advance so you know ahead of time where you want to go. You can even learn whether the place you intend to stay has a helpful staff. The last thing you want to do is spend your whole vacation floundering around looking for where you want to go.

On a structured trip where you’re going to stop at several destinations, be careful that you don’t miss the one place you want to go. The article suggests that if you have a particular destination on your trip that is particularly dear to you, you should start or end your vacation there to make sure you’re able to make it, rather than squeezing it in somewhere in the middle.

Travel insurance is something we suggest you consider, especially on long trips or those once-in-a-lifetime trips. It’s something that many travelers routinely decline, but in the case that an emergency comes up, it can be a real life saver and money saver.

What are some travel mistakes you’ve made, or work hard to avoid? Leave us a comment and let us hear from you. Or stop by our Facebook page and share your ideas with our Facebook fans.

How to Avoid Being Stranded at the Airport

July 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a frequent traveler, you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get the notification: Flight canceled. There are few worse feelings when you’re headed to an important meeting, on a long-awaited vacation or — worst yet — home after a busy time away.

There’s a silver lining: Conde Nast Traveler’s The Daily Traveler blog published a post with some great tips for making your way home if your flight’s been canceled and you’re stuck at an airport.

A busy airport

(Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

The steps CN outlines are ones I haven’t given a lot of thought to honestly. I’ve had a few major cancellations happen to me in my travels — and while I don’t recommend it, I pretty much rely on my past experiences of “playing the game.” The key to winning said game? Make sure you have a lot of alternatives.

The first step for me has always been to approach the airline directly to find out your options. But from there, what you do depends on how badly you want to get home.

Having a sort of slush fund for a recovery budget is one thing CN’s article recommends. Recovery budgets and security measures like travel insurance can alleviate the financial burden of a canceled flight or long delay, but it doesn’t necessarily make getting home any easier.

When I lived in Michigan, I had a flight canceled during a snowstorm — there were no flights coming or going out of the Detroit airport. But we were headed to Grand Rapids, which was only a few hours’ drive — so my coworkers and I rented a car and drove through the snow to reach our final destination. (Renting a car is often cheaper than getting a hotel room.)

I encountered a similar situation in a past life, when I was working on the East Coast. I had a presentation to give in Hyde Park, N.Y., and our flight out of Philadelphia got canceled. We didn’t have the option to spend the night — we had a presentation to give and had to be there — so we drove six hours to our destination and made the presentation as planned.

However, the airline refused to surrender our luggage to us before we left, so we met our bags at the Hyde Park airport when the canceled flight eventually arrived. In that case, we just had to punt, wear the same clothes from the day before, and give the presentation. There are times the show must go on, regardless of what you’re wearing. (It was also a valuable lesson in why it’s better to travel with carry-on bags than checking them on short trips.)

If driving isn’t an option for you, my two favorite tips from CN’s article are to find an airport with a lot of flights and be open to alternate airports. If you’re reasonably flexible with your travel plans, you can often find another way home or to your destination with minimal pain.

What’s your biggest cancellation nightmare? Commiserate in the comments section and give us some ideas.