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When booking hotel/motel accommodations, always inquire as to the policies concerning age requirements, pets, non smoking rooms and/or provisions for persons with disabilities. Also make sure you fully understand their cancellation and refund policies and have a copy of it in writing prior to committing to a room guarantee. Inquire as to check-in times and checkout times and know the difference between an ocean view and oceanfront room.

Upon arriving at your destination, request to inspect your room prior to check-in to make sure the accommodations meet your expectations. Immediately report any damage or missing items to the manager. Ask what charges or surcharges, if any, are applied to telephone usage.

In the final analysis, a consumer must remember that you usually get what you pay for and the lowest rates are not always the best accommodations. It is the responsibility of the consumer to fully understand what they are signing for and paying for prior to making any buying decision.

Travel Insurance - Is it Necessary?

Before you finalize your vacation plans for the summer, be sure you have given careful thought to whether you need to purchase travel insurance. There are circumstances that could cause you to cancel your trip, return home early or force you to seek emergency medical treatment while traveling. Travel insurance may provide the extra protection you need.
Before you purchase coverage, check your homeowner's or medical insurance policies to avoid any overlapping. For instance, expensive items such as your camcorder, laptop computer or jewelry may be covered by your homeowner's insurance should they be stolen while you are traveling. If the airline loses your checked luggage, they are 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.

According, to Consumer Reports, various types of protection are generally (but not always) included in a travel insurance policy. 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.

Some of the different types of insurance available include:

Trip Cancellation/Interruption (TCI) - 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, and 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. It is very important to read the fine print.

Emergency Medical Evacuation - If you are going on an adventure vacation or to an area that is far from modern medical facilities, it may be a good idea to buy 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.

The BBB, along with Consumer Reports, advise the following:

Read the fine print. Know exactly what coverage you are getting or not getting.
Consider buying your travel insurance from an independent firm, rather than from the tour operator or cruise line.
Protect yourself further by paying with a charge card.
Baggage-loss protection is only necessary if you are carrying more than $2,500 worth of items in your bags. Be sure to check your homeowner's policy.

' 2004 Council of BBBs, Inc.

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