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Lesser-Known Travel Insurance Benefits

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As I work on my travel insurance claim from March, it reminds me that so many folks don’t recognize all the benefits that travel insurance can provide – this will be my fourth claim in six years, so that inspires this week’s article…

Lesser-Known Travel Insurance Benefits

Most folks think of travel insurance in regard to cancellation, and that certainly is a key benefit.

I’ve had clients cancel for a broken foot, being in brace after a fall down the stairs, and after a stroke. Another client cancelled two days before departure when her mom fell and broke her hip. But beyond trip cancellation, here are some other aspects of travel insurance that may be helpful.

Trip Interruption Costs

One aspect of travel insurance that people don’t fully understand is the trip interruption benefit – which can actually provide a benefit before the trip starts.

I had this situation seven years ago when I was scheduled to depart to Ireland before leading a large group trip. Two days before my scheduled flight, my then 90-year-old mom fell and fractured her back and was scheduled to be in surgery the night I was supposed to be on the plane. Clearly, I had to push back the flight, and moving my flight back by one day cost $1,752 additional – which was more than the cost of the original ticket. I filed a claim with travel insurance and was fully reimbursed.

The claim I’m working on now is from my trip in March, when I was in Budapest for the River Cruise Expo, and then on a Danube cruise. During that time my mom went in the hospital, and they called saying I really needed to return home early and not wait for the end of the cruise. I rescheduled my flight home immediately and arrived in time to see my mom before she passed away.

For my travel insurance claim, this is a ‘trip interruption’. I’m filing for the additional $507 charged for changing my flights to depart from a different city on a different day, the additional transportation costs of getting to a different airport, plus a reimbursement of 50% of the cruise costs for missing half the cruise.

Medical Situation Companion Expenses

Travel insurance includes coverage for medical expenses if you get sick or have an accident on the trip. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that there is also coverage for the traveling companion if needed. The costs for a companion are also reimbursed if a covered individual ends up being hospitalized and the companion has to stay in a nearby hotel, and the flights home have to be rescheduled at a higher cost. I’ve assisted clients in this situation with their claim and they were reimbursed.

Baggage and Personal Effects

On a trip to England touring the amazing Minnick Theatre, an outdoor theater built into cliffs overlooking the sea (I wrote about it last week), I dropped my camera on the stone steps, and it broke.

I realized that I had travel insurance and could use the baggage and personal effect benefit – this benefit covers baggage and personal effects that are lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed during your trip or while checked with a common carrier.

I filed a claim and was reimbursed $250 for my broken camera. I was on a scheduled tour of England and there were requirements for documentation from the tour leader to substantiate the incident.

Repatriation and Companion Expenses

No one wants to think of this, but sadly folks do pass away while traveling, and this can be very costly without coverage. Travel protection will cover the costs of returning the body home. In addition to the repatriation of remains, the companion may be stuck in a location and have extra costs while the authorities deal with the remains. Travel insurance will handle those extra costs for the companion.

I was leading a group trip on a Caribbean cruise and unfortunately one of our group members passed away. His wife disembarked with his body on one of the islands and it took 5-6 days for the issues to be worked out for the death certificate before he could be returned home. Travel insurance covered the extra costs associated with her having to stay in a hotel while dealing with those issues, as well as flight changes for her and repatriation of her husband’s body.

A key aspect with all claims is good documentation. It’s very important to keep every single receipt and note any additional costs – cab rides, extra meals, etc. More information is always better.

The point of travel insurance is to protect your travel investment when the unexpected happens – and it will happen. In particular, having medical coverage while outside the United States is critical. But I hope that this also broadens your perspective in other ways travel insurance can assist you.