The holiday season can be a stressful time for some people. If you’re planning on traveling to visit family or friends this year, you can eliminate one possible area of stress by purchasing travel protection.
Travel protection brings peace of mind; it guards against unexpected problems or events and can help travelers recoup considerable nonrefundable expenses.
“The holidays are a great time for family travel. However, unforeseen circumstances like bad weather or illness can set the best-laid plans off course, and worse, may cause you to cancel your vacation and forfeit all the money you’ve paid,” says Megan Cruz, executive director of the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA). “By having the right travel coverage in place, holiday travelers will have the safety net they need to celebrate the holidays without the worry of losing their travel investment.”
Here are just a few examples of how travel protection plans can come to the rescue this holiday season.
Lost Baggage--You land in Dallas but your baggage doesn’t. Most travel insurance policies will pay up to a fixed daily amount to replace needed items due to lost baggage or baggage delays exceeding a certain period of time. Travelers should check with their travel insurance carrier on the minimum time requirement as well as maximum dollar reimbursement provided.
Bad Weather--A winter storm grounds your flight in Boston, where you must spend the night. You can’t get home, and you have no hotel reservation.
If your flight is canceled due to weather conditions, an airline is not required by law to provide you with accommodations. Many travel protection plans provide 24-hour assistance and trip delay coverage that can help you find a hotel room, reimburse you up to a set amount for expenses while delayed, and help reschedule or rebook your flight.
Family Illness--Your plane tickets and hotel reservations are paid for, and you have to cancel at the last minute because your child is too sick to travel.
Travel protection plans generally cover cancellation or interruption of a trip due to illness of an immediate family member, in case a member of your family becomes ill while traveling, or if an immediate relative back home becomes ill or has an accident and forces you to return home early.
Illness on Vacation--You’re on a family holiday in the Caribbean, and Dad suffers a serious accident that requires an emergency evacuation back to the U.S. He needs to be transported to a hospital in Miami with specialists.
Many health insurance plans have limited coverage if you are out of network or more than 100 miles away from home. Travel insurance can fill the gap between what your health insurance covers and the actual costs of your medical care. Also, medical evacuation—which can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars—is typically not covered in standard health insurance policies. In the event of a serious accident or illness, the 24-hour assistance provided by most travel protection plans can help find a doctor, replace lost medication, and arrange hospital or other medical treatment as well as the air ambulance trip and/or other needed medical transportation.
Home or Destination Disasters--You have to cancel your trip because your Christmas tree caught on fire and your home is uninhabitable due to smoke damage.
Some travel protection plans will reimburse you if you have to cancel a trip or return home early because your home is uninhabitable due to a catastrophe such as fire or flooding.
If your destination becomes uninhabitable, or a natural disaster—like this week’s volcano eruption in New Zealand—prevents you from reaching your destination or causes prepaid tours to be canceled, a travel protection plan can help you recover nonreimbursable expenses. Again, if you’re injured in a natural disaster while traveling, 24-hour assistance can help coordinate emergency medical care.
Other Emergencies--Assistance services available as part of your travel protection plan can help with a lost passport, general travel advice, and getting messages to family members in case of an emergency. There are even special travel protection plans that cover situations such as canceling a trip for work-related reasons or even canceling for any reason.
Advice From UStiA
Make and bring copies of your passport and other identification.
Take your travel insurance information with you on your trip, including your policy number and information on how to reach your insurance provider.
Keep all receipts and a copy of your itinerary in case you need to file a claim.
When purchasing travel insurance, carefully review the policy and be sure you understand what is and is not covered. If you have questions about the plan and what is or isn't included, ask the insurance company.
About UStiA UStiA is a nonprofit association of insurance carriers and allied businesses involved in the development, administration, and marketing of travel insurance and assistance services. UStiA promotes fairness, integrity, and a commitment to excellence in the travel insurance industry, with a mission to educate the public on travel insurance while maintaining high industry standards. For more information on UStiA and travel insurance, visit www.ustia.org.