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Conflicting messages about travel insurances

Travel insurance companies will want you to buy an insurance plan well ahead of your trip. And having insurance might generally be a better idea than not having one. But in real life, if disaster strikes, it might turn out to be worthless anyway.

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TRAVEL INSURANCE BUY OR NOT?
Consumers are bombarded with press releases and news stories about whether or not to purchase travel insurances. Analyzing the recent flow of information on the matter, one could conclude it’s best to sign up early for a policy, well ahead of the trip – but not expect it to cover anything essential if disaster hits. At least not if you happen to run into medical problems.

If your are stranded while on a trip, an insurance might come in handy. But always read the fine print – ahead of your trip, experts warn.

If your end up stranded, an insurance might come in handy. Or not. Always examine the fine print ahead of your trip, experts warn.

 

“If you want travel insurance, buy early and read the fine print,” reported Marketwatch.com in May with reference to the recent volcano eruption in Alaska. As soon as the eruptions started, experts told the website, it was too late to buy a policy covering resulting trip problems.

“Once an event happens, you can’t insure against it,” says Linda Kundell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Travel Insurance Association to Marketwatch.

But an early purchase of a policy isn’t enough — it need’s to cover something essential, too. It’s worth asking questions about whether particular events you’re worried about are covered, says Jeanne Salvatore, a senior vice president for the Insurance Information Institute, to Marketwatch.

So-called “known risks”, for example, are often excluded from the policies – exactly those that might hit you is a volcano erupts, or  if a tsunami rolls in.

In addition, many hotels offer free cancellations anyway, and you might also want to double-check what policies are included in your credit card, sometimes making extra insurance unnecessary. Also, you may not need travel insurance if you’re already covered under a life, health auto or even a homeowners policy, the Wall Street Journal points out.

 

Meanwhile, from both the US and the UK reports have come about how relatively few travelers who carries any insurance at all. Cost might perhaps be a reason. But it might be worth the effort, UK website Wsandb.co.uk (Workplace Savings And Benefits) points out, to try to negotiate with your employer to have the travel insurance included with your other work related benefits. [pullquote]For the company’s own doctor it was an easy task to ask the exact right questions in order to figure out the medical history of the passenger.[/pullquote]

“Employers looking to protect their most valued asset when away on holiday will no doubt be satisfied to find that coverage of travel insurance under employee flexible benefit schemes is generally far more comprehensive than that found through high-street or online deals,” writes Hannah Uttley on Wsandb.co.uk.

And a travel insurance can be worth the cost anyway. As the Miami Herald reports, Sandy the Superstorn as well as the odd tropical storm while on vacation in Florida are two examples of wether related disasters which travelers could be compensated for, had they signed up for a policy ahead of the trip.



One traveler, John Monroe, told the paper how he had his summer vacation to St. George Island off the Florida Panhandle cut short by precisely a tropical storm. “Every summer we rent a house and though we knew the weather was bad, we didn’t realize how bad,” he said to Miami Herald.

“We went to Tallahassee and then on to a friend’s house in Georgia,” said Monroe to the Herald. He not only recouped the cost of the non-refundable home rental, but the night at a Tallahassee hotel, the paper reported.

 

When it comes to medical issues, though, buying an insurance might not do you any good at all, as Consumerist.com points out in a recent story. As it turns out, one passenger who had to cut her trip short, and who had purchased insurance, had suffered a heart attack ten years ago and had been diagnosed with high blood pressure before that. That fact was enough for Allianz, the insurance company, to deny her claim, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time of the event. For the company’s own doctor it was an easy task to ask the exact right questions in order to figure out the medical history of the passenger.

 

Ironically enough, the same company as in the case above, Allianz, in May 2013 began offering its medical travel insurance via Deutsche Telecom’s SureNow mobile service, enabling smartphone users to purchase a “last minute” insurance for € 1.49 a day just before they set foot on their flight. If this service becomes a win-win situation for both passengers and Allianz, after disaster has truck, apparently remains to be seen.

[colored_box color=”red”]Help on comparing policies can be found online. Squaremouth.com, InsureMyTrip.com and QuoteWright.com are three of many websites by which insurance policies can be compared.[/colored_box]

 

 

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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.