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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Trip Insurance: Don’t be Sorry You Booked Without It

Insurance is one of the few things you spend money on but get nothing in return. But be without it when something happens and suddenly, it’s worth way more than you paid for it.

We’ve cruised 21 times and bought trip insurance 21 times. Thankfully, it never got used. But, we wouldn’t dare book a cruise without it.

There are just too many things that can go wrong, as hurricanes Irma and Harvey just reminded us. Your home floods and you need to stay to deal with it…the airport closes and you can’t get a flight out…you come down with pneumonia before the trip or appendicitis after it starts…you’re running late and then get a flat en route to the port…your luggage takes a different plane than the one you’re on…

Insurance ensures that if you can’t make the trip, or something happens before or while you’re at sea, you’ll get something back towards the cost of your trip or help on expenses. Whether your mishap qualifies and/or how much you get back depends on the policy.

The plans
There are two different ways to get travel insurance: cruise line plans or independent insurance companies:

Cruise line plans. Each line offers its own insurance, which is provided by a third party. You can usually find info by putting “protection” in the search tool on the cruise line websites. A good travel agent can also brief you on cost and what’s covered. For your easy reference, here are links to some cruise line plans:

Independent insurance companies. Travel insurance companies such as Travel Guard® offer a number of different policies and prices.

What you should know
A few things you should know about travel insurance:

Read the fine print. This is not the time to let your eyes glaze over—the fine print is what you’re buying. Policies vary widely in how much you’d get reimbursed and under what conditions, and what proof you’d need to provide.

Often, the more expensive the policy, the better the terms. Most policies are pretty specific about what they’ll cover. For example, if you cancel the trip, they may reimburse you for part of the cruise if you get sick, but not if it’s from a pre-existing condition. Or, they may only pay if you get sick, but not if you need to stay home to care for a sick parent.

Cancellations for illness or death are the most common reasons insurance will pay out. There is coverage if you need to cancel the trip for any reason, but even with these plans, there are caveats. So, read the rules very carefully.

Know how much and in what way the reimbursement comes. Find out not only how much of the cruise would be covered if you cancelled, but if the reimbursement is money or credit toward a future cruise.

Be sure you know when payment’s due. Most often, it's at final payment.

Take your insurance documents with you. Print them up, and/or download them to your phone or tablet. You want the documents handy if you need them for reference.

One last thought
Your insurance is only as good as your insurance company. Years ago, the travel company that put together my London trip went belly up while I was there, and the airline wouldn’t honor my ticket home. Make sure the insurance company is financially stable and will be around to pay your claim if you are unfortunate enough to have one.