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Travel Insurance – Protecting Yourself and your Travel Investment

If you’re planning a trip, at some point you should give some thought to travel insurance. There are more than a few scenarios that might prevent or interrupt your trip, and most tour operators, airlines, and many online booking sites won’t issue you a refund if you or someone close to you becomes ill or dies, forcing you to stay home. Of course you want to protect your travel investment, but just how much insurance is necessary?

Before you buy more insurance than you need, check your homeowner, auto, life, and health insurance policies to see what coverage you already have. Then consider your risks, and shop accordingly to fill in the gaps. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase travel insurance before you make the final payment on your trip. You should expect to spend 5-7% of the total cost of your trip on an insurance policy, depending on your age, health, and the level of coverage you want.

Here are the basic types of coverage and where to shop for it:

  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption. Check for a policy that protects you in the event you have a medical emergency or a death in the family that will prevent you from taking the trip. Some policies will allow you to cancel for any reason, others will compensate you for travel delays that include reimbursement for expenses related to flight delays (for any reason) such as lost or stolen luggage, and missed connections.
  • Emergency Medical Care. It’s wise to have coverage for this on any trip but particularly if you are taking an active vacation. You’re probably at greater risk of injury on a bicycle tour than on an over-the-road motor coach tour but you could trip and fall on the walk from the rest stop to the bus so, protect yourself no matter what your doing on your trip! If you are covered at home through a HMO or a network provider plan, you may not be covered if you become sick or injured in another state or country and receive medical care outside your network.
  • Medical Evacuation. If you sustain a serious injury that requires transport to a hospital by ambulance (or helicopter) and eventual evacuation back home, that can cost upwards of $100,000. It may be worth it to insure yourself and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are covered for the worst case scenario.

Where should you buy insurance? You probably shouldn’t buy trip insurance from your cruise line or tour operator. You won’t be able to collect if the tour operator files for bankruptcy. Travel agents are an option, but they may steer you to the policy that pays the highest commission rather than one that best meets your needs. Look for a broker who specializes in travel insurance and represents several insurance companies. Check out InsureMyTrip.com or TravelInsuranceCenter.com. Both offer a wide range of options from a number of different carriers. You can comparison shop on their websites with their online calculators or you can call and speak with an agent directly.

Stephanie is the owner of Stephanie Ventures LLC, a Fairfield CA tour company whose bike and barge tour this year will run from July 4 – 11th in Holland. An active cyclist and former triathlete, she specializes in active, affordable, and custom small group travel. She has 30 years of experience in food and wine marketing and event planning, professional cycling team event management, and corporate incentive trip planning. She is certified as a Tour Director by the International Tour Management Institute, has visited all 50 US States and a dozen or so countries on five continents. Learn more about her upcoming bike and barge trip here stephanieventures.wordpress.com.

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