Travel insurance is something you buy hoping you never have to use it. However, not everyone purchases it when booking a vacation — a big mistake in my book. I’ve told you how travel insurance covers medical expenses and the steps to take to use your insurance, but it also covers a lot of other events you might not have expected.
With an estimated 43.6 million people traveling by air this winter holiday period, I’m sure some of your trips might not go as planned. When something does go wrong and you have to foot the bill, you’ll either sigh with relief that you bought travel insurance or kick yourself that you won’t be reimbursed for any of the additional expenses.
In this new series, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about travel insurance. Why a whole series instead of one post, you might ask? Honestly, there is a lot to cover.
While it might not be the most fascinating part of planning your trip, it’s vital for success that you have all the facts! Believe me, I’ve used my own travel insurance before, and you’ll say “Really?” when you find out what’s covered. From trip interruptions, to lost prescriptions, to lost luggage, the list goes on and on.
Since skies will be busy this season, let’s start with what travel insurance covers around your trip to the airport. As an example, here is Friendly Planet Travel’s policy to give you an idea of what travel insurance can cover.
Trip delay. If you’re stranded in an airport because of weather, mechanical problems, or you got in an accident on the way to the airport, etc., your travel insurance will cover you for costs associated with the delay. For example, if your flight gets delayed, it will likely fly out the next day. The insurance will pay for your hotel and meals for that night if the airline does not.
Now you arrive at your destination and you need a transfer to meet up with the rest of your group tour. The travel insurance will cover that. You’ll have to pay for it out of pocket, but will be reimbursed as quickly as possible. So keep your receipts.
Travel insurance will cover up to $100 per day for up to five days. It will reimburse you for additional expenses incurred by you for hotel accommodations and meals if you are delayed 12 hours or more. However, it will not pay benefits for expenses incurred after travel becomes possible.
Trip interruption or cancellation. An interruption is when you get stuck in a location for three or four days due to forces you can’t control. For example, there’s a strike that shuts down roads or closes airports and you can’t leave that country for three or four days. Travel insurance covers all of the expenses to stay a few extra days because your trip was interrupted.
Interruptions are usually coupled with trip cancellations. So if you have to cancel your trip because you get sick, injured, or anything similar, travel insurance typically covers up to the total trip cost. And if your trip is nonrefundable, it covers trip payments up to the air and land cost for cancellation prior to departure or trip interruption after departure.
Missed connection. If you find yourself without enough time between your connecting flights, you might be making a mad dash to your second gate. Unfortunately, your best attempts to hurdle over luggage and slow walkers in the terminal might not get you to the gate in time.
There’s no need to sweat. Travel insurance covers costs up to $500 and additional transportation costs to join the trip once you get on a new flight. Also included are accommodations and meals if inclement weather or the carrier itself causes the cancellation or delay of regularly scheduled airline flights for three to less than 12 hours.
Now, don’t just sit back and let the travel insurance do all the work for you if you find yourself in any of these situations. You need to be a good advocate for yourself. But do it respectfully, but insistently. Depending on the situation, a lot of travelers might be in the same boat trying to reschedule a flight or book a hotel room. If that’s the case, take matters into your own hands knowing that the travel insurance will reimburse you later.
You can start by booking a new flight yourself. Once you do that, tell the ticket agent that you’ve booked yourself on another flight and you need authorization from the other airline to accept your ticket. If they give push back and say no, remember you have the right to be accommodated, just do it respectfully.
And when it comes to booking a hotel room, avoid the Waldorf Astoria if you can. Travel insurance will cover reasonable accommodations, not luxury. You don’t have to rough it, but a Marriott or a Holiday Inn will provide you with a roof and bed.
So stay tuned, or bookmark the travel insurance tag. In my next post I’ll cover lost luggage, personal effects, assistance, and more.