As Ralph and his crew prepare for their Dream Cruise, many of his guests have asked about travel insurance. They’re curious what kind of coverage they should get, and who has the best policies. Let’s learn about our options.
The most popular type of travel insurance is comprehensive travel insurance, which starts the minute you leave the house for your trip and everything else on your trip that is non-refundable. As a general rule, the price of this insurance is about 10 percent of the cost of your trip. So, if your cruise costs US$4,000, the insurance would cost you around US$400. However, if you choose solely a medical plan or some other type of insurance, the cost will likely be less.
Sometimes, people use credit cards that have insurance to cover the cost of their trip if something happens. These plans can be extensive and cover lost baggage, travel accidents, emergency medical treatments, and more. However, for most credit card policies, the coverage is not the same as what you will get through an insurance plan. You can always choose to purchase travel insurance to cover what your credit card company does not. I am a firm believer in the saying, you’re better safe than sorry. I’ve heard some of the stories of what could go wrong – and how much I could be liable for when just using a credit card.
Travel insurance isn’t just about large emergencies, though. Many insurance companies will reimburse you for the little things that make your trip a hassle: airline delays, lost luggage, etc. (Most credit card companies also reimburse you for these inconveniences.)
Travel insurance can also help in case of injury or illness, especially in remote areas; in North America, the remote regions of Alaska are among the most expensive places for evacuation. Travel insurance will cover the cost of airlifting passengers and transporting them to a hospital. Most travel insurance covers those expenses up to a quarter of a million dollars, while a credit card policy would likely only cover much less.
Illness and injury are the top reasons for purchasing insurance by cruisers. Medical issues also drive the majority of most insurance claims. Allianz’s website states: “If you’re traveling overseas, having emergency medical benefits is absolutely essential. That’s because many medical facilities and doctors in other countries require cash payment up front and do not accept U.S. insurance plans. Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the United States.”
I’ve heard stories of travelers receiving inexpensive treatment overseas, even so much as receiving treatment after a heart attack completely free of charge without insurance. Prescription drugs are often cheap in Europe and some can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies. However, I’ve also heard stories of people breaking bones and owing thousands of dollars to hospitals. So, though travel insurance is always just a recommendation – again, we think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Although travel insurance can cover a multitude of problems, there also are certain things that we may not take into consideration when considering our happy dream vacations. Unfortunately, deaths may occur on the ship or ashore, and there are costs associated with retrieving the body and getting it back to the family. Insurance policies will cover repatriation of remains.
Through Allianz and other insurance companies, “cancel for any reason” policies are available for purchase. These policies are often much more expensive than a basic comprehensive policy, but they allow travelers to cancel outside of the basic cancelation typical covered reasons.
So what should you do if you decide to get travel insurance?
- Insure your first deposit within 14 days of making the first payment.
- Do research on which insurance company is going to meet your needs
- Call your travel advisor and/or the insurance companies to ask questions
- Be sure that your insurance policy covers what you want it to cover, which should be everything on your trip that is non-refundable.
- Be wary of policies offered by airlines and similar companies. Airline policies are limited coverage, and ticket protection is not a comprehensive plan.
Do you need travel insurance? The choice is up to you.
What experiences have you had with travel insurance? Do you have additional insights for our readers?