Away For The Holidays? Don't Forget Travel Insurance
US Travel Insurance Association Advises Families to Protect from the Unforeseen
If you’re flying for a Christmas or Chanukah holiday, going away for a family Thanksgiving, or planning a New Year’s cruise, travel insurance is a “must-have,” says the US Travel Insurance Association.
“The holidays are a great time for family travel, and the majority of trips go off smoothly. However, the risk of unforeseen circumstances can set the best-laid plans off course, and worse, may cause you to lose all or part of your vacation payments,” says Jon Ansell, founding president of the US Travel Insurance Association. He describes five examples of how travel insurance can come to the rescue this holiday season.
Your plane tickets and hotel reservations are paid for, and you have to cancel at the last minute because your child is sick.
Travel insurance policies 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 takes ill or has an accident and forces you to return home early. “If you have to cancel your trip because of family illness, travel insurance will usually reimburse you up to the cost of your insured trip. It will also reimburse you for the unused portion of your trip, and cover the additional cost of your return trip. Additionally, 24-hour-assistance hotlines provided by most travel insurance policies will help make arrangements for your return transportation,” says Ansell.
Wreck the Walls – Home Disasters
You have to cancel your trip because your Christmas tree caught on fire and your home is uninhabitable due to smoke damage.
In the event your home is made uninhabitable due to a catastrophe such as fire or flooding, travel insurance can help salvage your nonrefundable vacation costs. Home accidents do happen, cautions Ansell. “Consider that, according to the National Fire Protection Association, every year, more than 300 fires from Christmas trees – both real and artificial – cause property damage, injuries, and even an occasional death,” he says. Some travel insurance policies 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.
Illness on Vacation
You’re on a family holiday get-away in the Caribbean, and dad suffers a surfing accident. He needs to be transported to a hospital in Miami with specialists.
Many medical 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 an accident, emergency or illness, the assistance hot lines provided by most insurance policies will also help coordinate arrangements such as obtaining needed medical records or prescriptions. Many policies will also protect against preexisting conditions that are under control for a set amount of time providing the policy is purchased early enough prior to departure, notes Ansell.
Bye, Bye, Baggage
You land in Atlanta but your baggage goes to Alaska. You have nothing to wear to the annual family Christmas dinner.
Most travel insurance policies will pay up to a fixed daily amount for replacement items needed due to baggage delays exceeding a certain period. Ansell advises travelers to check with their travel insurance carrier on minimum time requirement as well as maximum dollar reimbursement provided.
Bad Weather Blues
Because of a winter storm your return flight is grounded 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. Travel insurance’s 24 hour assistance lines and trip delay coverage will help you get a hotel room, reimburse you up to a set amount for expenses while delayed, and help reschedule or rebook your flight. The assistance hot line service will also help notify family and relay any necessary messages to your workplace and elsewhere.
Work and other Emergencies
In addition to cruise and ski insurance policies, there are special travel insurance policies that cover situations such as canceling for work-related reasons or even canceling for any reason, Ansell points out. These policies, while usually more costly than the average 4 – 8% of the trip cost for standard policies, will cover you against an even broader range of circumstances.
To Buy or Not to Buy
According to UStiA research, major reasons for purchasing travel insurance are peace of mind, protecting against the unforeseen, and being able to recoup considerable nonrefundable expenses. When deciding if travel insurance is right for you and your family Ansell suggests that you determine how important peace of mind is to you, and how much money you could conceivably lose due to illness, emergency or catastrophe. “The more expensive your trip, the more likely you may want to protect your investment with travel insurance,” he counsels. Ansell advises that one comprehensive policy can insure all family members traveling together, covering them against a wide range of possible mishaps.