BBB Advice on Travel Insurance - Is it Necessary?

July 06, 2008

 The cost of a trip to a Mexican all-inclusive resort, a jaunt across the pond to see the changing of the guard or a flight to Maui for a destination wedding takes serious change. When adding up the cost of flights, hotels, car rentals and meals for a weeklong trip for a family of four, for example, you’re easily looking at $5,000 if not more.
 Now factor in daily headlines of airlines eliminating flights and/or destinations, stories of lost luggage and world turmoil, and mix in health issues -- yours or family members -- and you will find yourself asking: Should I purchase travel insurance?
 First, check to see if you’re covered under your homeowner’s or medical insurance policies. For instance, expensive items such as a camcorder, laptop computer or jewelry may be covered by homeowner’s insurance if they’re stolen while you’re traveling. If the airline loses your checked luggage, it is required to reimburse you for your bags (up to a certain dollar amount). Or, if you become sick or injured while traveling, your personal medical insurance may pick up the cost of your medical bills.
 Travel insurance policies vary in regard to coverage. Be sure to read the fine print: It determines whether your travel insurance covers what you may be assuming that it does. Policies and insurance firms differ in what they cover so be sure to ask.
 Travel insurance can include:
 Trip Cancellation/Interruption – If your plans suddenly change and you have to cancel or end your trip early, TCI will cover you for this. But, it will only reimburse you for reasons on the insurer’s acceptable list, such as, injury, sickness, death of yourself, a family member, a traveling companion or business partner. Some policies will cover only medical reasons and some will not cover preexisting medical conditions.
 Emergency Medical Evacuation – If you’re going on an adventure vacation or to an area far from modern medical facilities, you should consider this coverage. If adequate treatment is not available at a local hospital, you would be transferred to the nearest adequate medical faculty.
 Baggage Loss – This coverage reimburses you for lost, stolen or damaged bags. Before packing, be sure to make a list of everything; if your bag is lost, you may be reimbursed for some contents, but not all.
 When purchasing a travel policy, your BBB advises consumers to: read the fine print and to protect yourself by paying with a credit card.