By Vicky Willis
If you’ve never insured your travels, you may wonder if the price is worth it. Chances are one in six your trip could be impacted by unforeseen issues such as a medical condition, natural disaster, or mechanical or common carrier delay, according to a survey for the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA). Typically overlooked, travel protection can help keep your investment safe from unexpected personal or financial burdens that may ruin a trip.
Travel protection is beneficial for several reasons. Here are the top five.
- Prepaid, nonrefundable vacations: Travel protection is recommended if cancelling, interrupting, or delaying your trip could cause serious financial burden. Most people advise they would protect a trip costing $500 or more per person, according to UStiA. Remember that return air fare for an interrupted trip usually costs at least 150 percent of the original ticket price.
- Emergency medical and evacuation: What if you become ill or injured on vacation? Anytime you travel outside the United States or to a remote location, purchasing a travel-protection plan is recommended. Medicare and many health insurance carriers may stop or decrease coverage once you leave the country, and hospitals outside the United States may ask for payment prior to treatment. Travel protection helps secure your physical and financial well-being when the unexpected occurs while you travel.
- Security-deposit protection: You can purchase security-deposit protection in lieu of a traditional security deposit. If a traveling companion accidentally damages property in the unit during your stay, the property owner can be reimbursed for damaged property.
- Lost, stolen, or delayed baggage: You can be reimbursed for the replacement of your belongings if your luggage is lost or stolen while on your trip. If baggage arrival at your destination is merely delayed, you can be reimbursed for the emergency purchase of personal items to help you enjoy your trip.
- Travel assistance and concierge services: Some travel-protection plans include a 24/7 helpline at no additional charge. This is usually the best resource to call for help finding a nearby hospital, English-speaking physician, travel health information, or even local restaurant recommendation.
Tips and insights
Now that you understand the top reasons to purchase travel protection, consider these helpful tips and insights when comparing various trave protection plans:
- Primary or excess coverage? Primary coverage is less complicated. With excess coverage, you must exhaust benefits from existing policies and supply proof of your carrier’s disposition before filing a claim for the travel-protection benefits. A deductible payment also may be required before the plan kicks in. With primary coverage, you typically receive reimbursement on eligible losses before any other collectible policy. This becomes important when considering the time required to file and process a claim and receive your payment. Look for a plan with no deductibles to keep your out-of-pocket expenses low.
- Do I need a new plan for each trip? Not always, as most providers offer one plan to cover multiple trips throughout the use year. These plans are customized for vacation ownership, covering you and your traveling companions.
- How much emergency medical and evacuation coverage do I need? Medical evacuation and transport costs start at $25,000 and can exceed $250,000, according to USAtoday.com. A United States hospital stay may range from $2,000 to $10,000 daily, according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Healthcare.gov.
- Are pre-existing medical conditions typically covered? Travel insurance companies may waive your pre-existing condition if you purchase travel protection within a designated time frame, usually within three to 30 days of your initial trip payment or within three days of paying your annual maintenance fee.
- How do I know what’s covered? You will receive your coverage documents after purchasing a protection plan. Read the terms and conditions of the plan thoroughly to understand available benefits and plan exclusions. (Most travelinsurance companies make documents available online and have call-center experts available to answer questions.) Take these important coverage documents on your trip in case you need emergency assistance or have to file a claim.
- What if I change my mind after I’ve paid for a travel-protection plan? Some reputable companies offer a review period, sometimes called a freelook period. The timeframe of this period varies. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, you will be refunded the premium cost within a specified timeframe, if you have not already departed for your trip or filed a claim.
- Doesn’t my credit card or regular insurance provide travel-related protection? If you think you’re covered by your credit card, homeowners, auto, or health insurance, contact each company and read the fine print. Many companies may stop or limit coverage once you leave the United States, or only cover expenses purchased with their credit card. Protection provided by credit-card companies may be overpriced and not cover as much as traditional travel protection. If you need to file a claim with a travel-protection plan, the plan most likely will pay for itself.
Choosing the right plan
Contact your timeshare resort’s property-management company or owners association for recommendations of travel-insurance companies with plans customized for vacation ownership. Look for a company that offers multi-trip coverage to help protect all your owner vacations taken throughout the year. Your chosen plan should be customized for vacation ownership and cover you and up to five travel companions. Ask about travel protection designed for owners, club members, and resort travelers to find the plan that’s right for you.
Vicky Willis is director of sales for Travelex Insurance Services in Omaha, NE. She has more than 15 years of hospitality and travel experience, and welcomes your vacation-ownership travel protection questions. Contact her at 800-535-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Travelex Insurance Services has supported vacation-ownership travel-protection plans since 2010. These plans are underwritten by Transamerica Casualty Insurance Company, Columbus, OH; NAIC #10952, rated A (3rd of 16 ratings) by A.M. Best Company for financial strength. Transamerica has over 50 years of underwriting experience and 10 years in the vacation-ownership market.