Sunday, November 11, 2012

Travel Insurance

Is it for you? I discover it existed almost sixteen years ago when reading the comment log of our Oceanside rental. People who booked the rental a few months before us encountered a hurricane. They lost all electric. It rained so hard they had to put towels by the doors and windows to keep the rain out. Their children were scared. It turned out to be a horrible vacation playing board games by candle light. His parting comment was he wished he had bought travel insurance.

After reading that, I began to buy travel insurance for every vacation. It wasn’t hard I was always reminded when I booked airline tickets online. It wasn’t too expensive usually twenty-five dollars tacked onto the tickets. The year before last, we traveled extensively, so we probably paid at least $200 in travel insurance. Even that isn’t too bad of a deal if it actually works. What is it supposed to protect you from?

Travel insurance is supposed to cover the cost of your trip or delay from unseen calamities such as major illness, death, if your hotel is underwater, or cancelled flights. It does not protect you from arriving at your hotel/condo and being in the middle of a hurricane. The travel insurance people would have pointed out that the family did arrive, and stayed at their appointed rental, and did have a vacation. If they were forced to seek alternative housing elsewhere, they might cover it. Of course, this family couldn’t leave because there was a hurricane going on, and to do so might result in death and injury.

I had a legitimate flight cancellation when I was going to see my sister for spring break. I did not receive any news of my cancelled flight. In fact, I received an odd voice mail telling me my baggage had already arrived at the Atlanta airport before I even boarded a plane. At the airport, I was informed not only was my flight cancelled that the airline had no flights that day. My only hope was to bump someone off a four am flight the next day. I spent plenty of time trying to get my travel insurance to work for me as far as getting another flight. NADA.

After one entire year, a written letter, and copies of all my receipts resulting from the delay, my claim was refused. I didn’t take this lightly. Wasn’t this the point of travel insurance? I was informed when I called because I purchased my ticket ahead of time that I was not entitled to a refund. With Homeland Security, who can actually purchase their ticket the day of flight? If I did go to the airport and buy my ticket then I would have known there was no flight, and would have not needed travel insurance. I would have also paid about $700 more for my ticket too.

Nothing seems to fit into their emergency policy of travel insurance companies. A friend was flying his minor children to Hawaii to spend time with their grandparents. His cousin would meet the children in California, keep them overnight, and then put them on the connecting plane the next day. Due to a business concern, his cousin called him while he was in the airport getting ready to go through security. He had to pull the kids from the flight, but received no refund. It wasn’t enough of an emergency to have his two minor children stuck in a strange airport overnight according to insurance.

Other non-emergencies according to travel insurance companies include late flights that allow the cruise ship to leave without you. If meeting a cruise ship it is better to fly in the day before. A friend was planning the trip of the lifetime for her family. Two days before her departure, her father died unexpectedly. After spending thousands of dollars on her dream vacation, she found out that the death clause apparently only applied to the person on the trip. Which in itself seems rather oxymoronic, how could you file a claim if you were dead? If you did die in route, your life insurance already covers that.

Now I look on travel insurance the same way I regard the ticket insurance that Ticketmaster tries to get you to buy after already hitting you with fees that are almost equal to the price of your ticket. I bought tickets to an outdoor concert that happened on the night of a vicious storm. The concert was rescheduled for an alternative night.  The night of the new concert, my husband was violently ill not allowing us to attend. I wrote to the venue explaining my situation and they allowed me to trade in my unused tickets for a future concert. It mattered to the local venue that I thought well of them, and would continue to use them for future events.

Travel insurance is always betting on that you will never use them. This is just another add-on in a world of travel add-ons. Most people are even unaware they purchased travel insurance. Those who do have it are often unsure how to file a claim. The industry is unusually slow working on a claim in hoping you’ll forget. Seriously, what is there to do? They look at your receipts and cut you a check as simple as that.

If you buy travel insurance, you have to buy it for each member of your family. It may not cover what you think it covers. I have yet to meet anyone who has ever had travel insurance paid.

Airlines have given me better seats and flight connections, hotels free rooms, and restaurants the occasional discounted meal on a trip.  Relatives have received free upgrades on cruises and trips because of problems, but no one in my circle has ever received anything back from travel insurance. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Have you ever received anything back from travel insurance, I would love to hear your story.

1 comment:

  1. I’ve already heard some stories, stating that they received a refund from their respective insurance companies. While others find it hard to make a claim, I believe it’s important for the travelers to ask questions with regard to the extent of the coverage, as well as the necessary documents required for making a claim. That way, the process will progress smoothly.

    Clifton Johnson @ Insuring the Product