Published by Scott Danek
Almost everyone loves to travel, and most people don’t like to buy insurance, right?! Well, a recent experience leaves me a firm believer that without the latter there could easily be much less of the former. So, here are five important considerations regarding trip insurance.
- Buy it, and preferably buy it early – Sure, if you are like us you will buy it, grumble under your breath when you hit ‘finalize purchase’, and think ‘Why did I do that, I’ve never had a claim before’? Hopefully though you will have hit that button before you have your first claim like we did recently. The money we received from this policy/claim is multiples of our total premiums we’ve paid for all our trips combined. . . over our lifetime. We were able to get 100% of all medical costs, copays, hotel stays, etc. directly related to the medical event that ‘interrupted’ (Official trip insurance lingo there, and a tease to keep reading. . .) our trip. We’ve also been reimbursed for a couple missed flights, a hotel room we never saw, some Ubers, a charter flight, etc. that were all expenses we incurred or that went ‘unused’ due to the ‘interruption’ in our travel due to a ‘covered reason’ (Keep reading. . .).
- All things equal your premiums will be lower and your coverage will be better if you buy your trip insurance policy within 30 days of initially putting down a deposit on the trip. Most airlines make this very easy as you can buy trip insurance as part of your ticket booking experience so there really is no excuse not to do it.
- Keep Detailed Records – If we’d not kept all our receipts, email confirmations, itineraries (Before the trip was done we’d had three if you can believe it), etc. our claim would not have been nearly as successful. It is not that the trip insurance companies don’t want to pay you, it is just they are not going to willy nilly throw money around unless you can prove it was spent, it was ‘nonrefundable’, etc. Honestly, you don’t want a company to make it too easy to file a claim because you want them to have the ability to write the big check when you need it due to a legitimate claim. So, make sure you keep all your receipts, create an email folder with confirmations, etc., as you never know when they will come in handy. Granted, $50 doesn’t sound like much, but you save a fist full of those and end up getting them back and pretty soon you have your next trip’s plane ticket in hand.
- Be Sure It Includes Medical Evacuation Coverage – This honestly is the primary reason we always buy trip insurance. Most who travel can take a hit on lodging or airfare and survive, but if you need to be airlifted off an island or out of a ravine you could easily be looking at tens of thousands of dollars or more. Think about how much you’d rather spend that kind of money on your next ‘umpteen’ trips rather than one helicopter ride, right?! This last policy of ours had a $500,000 limit for ‘medical evacuation’. No, we didn’t think we’d need that much and no we didn’t end up using that part of the policy in our claim, but in this case once we’d decided which policy to buy based on other limits we could add six figures of evacuation coverage for only a few more dollars.
- Understand Your Policy – There are a number of terms you should become familiar with when it comes to trip insurance. Emergency Medical and Dental. Trip Cancellation. Trip Interruption. Travel/Trip Delay. Covered Reasons. Exclusions. You get the picture. All are spelled out very well in your policy and granted, absent a claim who really cares, right? Still, several of these will have maximums associated with them that if you understand what you are buying you can buy what you think you’ll need and not spend any more than necessary.
- Also, if you have a claim the better you can talk the talk the better you can file a successful claim. For example, remember when earlier I mentioned we ended up with three itineraries? One was interrupted due to a ‘medical illness’. That sounds pretty straight forward, and a ‘physician’s statement’ is all you really need to prove that occurred. Well, the first ‘covered reason’ was a ‘Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandate’, which at first the trip insurance company wasn’t believing we had experienced. Well, a quick Internet search with the correct terms and up popped an official announcement from the FAA. That extra $1,600 we were reimbursed due to that specific clause in the contract was well worth taking the time to understand it and do the appropriate search.
- Follow Up If You Have a Claim – Please don’t assume that the minute you upload your claim and supporting documents that a check will automatically arrive in the mail shortly thereafter. There are several things that can and likely will slow down your claim, and you following up will help.
- One, we found not all the documents uploaded the first time. If they don’t have them they surely won’t pay them
- Two, the names of the files on our end were not what came through upon uploading. Sometimes it took one-on-one conversations to match documents with a given portion of the claim and policy provisions
- Three, your claim could be handled by multiple people and if so you can expect some amount of delay or confusion. We found proactively contacting the same claims representative at the same extension cut down the time from submittal to payment dramatically
- Four, if you are listening and taking active notes, the claims representative may use terminology or speak of a given policy provision that could cause you to find additional expenses to claim. I KNOW that we received a better result, i.e. received a larger reimbursement, specifically because I was regularly in touch with the same representative several times throughout the process. Be sure to write down their name and extension, and what and when you spoke, as it will add that much more credence to your position.
So, while this might not make you wake up out of a dead sleep wanting to run right out and buy trip insurance, if you take these points to heart and protect each trip you take you’ll at the very least sleep better knowing you are protected and at the very best when you do have a claim be in better shape financially than you would have without it so you can keep on traveling!