Two years ago, after booking a family cruise bound for Costa Maya, Kalimah Jenkins got an order from her doctor…no travel. Luckily she had insurance.
She called the company, told them the situation and provided the necessary documentation. Within two weeks she received a check.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple. We’ve all heard stories of endless investigations when travelers try to file claims - or worse, of outright denials. And then there are travelers who fail to purchase trip insurance and end up regretting it.
With summer travel kicking off, I asked AJC contributor Clara Bosonetto for tips on when and how to buy travel insurance.
“It is not necessary if you know you can exchange a ticket or rearrange your travel dates, but when you have a lot invested in a non-refundable tour, of course you have to get some insurance,” says Bosonetto, a retired travel consultant based in Florida. Other instances in which insurance may make sense include special events, such as destination weddings or travel during peak hurricane season.
Once you’ve established the need for insurance, shop around. “It is never a good idea to buy insurance from the particular company that you buy a [travel] product from. People should go to an independent source to buy their trip insurance,” Bosonetto says.
The first time Jenkins, 48, of Marietta, purchased travel insurance, she did if for two reasons: the possibility that she would not be able to travel or may need medical assistance in a foreign country.
She started with a Google search to find and compare different companies. She knew she wanted her travel insurance to serve as her primary insurance (rather than her regular health insurance) which helped narrow her search. Once she identified five companies that could suit her needs, she reviewed how much coverage she could get for her money. In the end, she went with a company that best met her needs and also covered her children for free. She continues to use that provider today.
“You can get basic coverage for a plane not taking off or a hotel having a fire,” says Bosonetto. “You have to buy a plan that stacks on benefits and they go all the way up to plans you can cancel for any reason. That is the ultimate and the most expensive travel insurance package you can buy.”
She also notes that while the period from June through November is a time of high travel, it is also hurricane season in many popular destinations. Weather is, of course, an act of God, but there is hurricane insurance for travelers — just make sure you understand what it does and doesn’t cover. For example, you can’t purchase hurricane insurance for a storm that has already been named. And in order to file a claim, the storm must have a direct impact on your travel plans (not merely threaten to derail your trip). You should ask the airline, hotel, cruise ship or whatever to give the reason for any delays or cancellation of your reservation in writing.
Know that any insurance company will investigate your claim and in some cases it can take a while, Bosonetto says. While the facts may seem straightforward to you, you can never predict how the travel industry will react, she says. “Every individual trip is as unique as we are.”