Topics of Special Interest
Travel Insurance: Limited or Comprehensive – Reprinted with Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Ski Council
The question of how much coverage one should buy with Trip Insurance has no straight-forward answer. It depends!
Comprehensive Coverage: For trips involving large amounts of physical activity, remote destinations, civil unrest or risky transportation, for example, comprehensive coverage that includes trip cancellation, medical rescue and evacuation, trip delays, personal property losses and even repatriation emergencies, is a must. Whether this coverage needs to be purchased separately from a commercial Travel Insurance carrier, or can be obtained (at least on a case-by-case basis) from one’s current Health-Property (Homeowners & Automobile) or Credit Card insurance is a judgement call for each individual. It should be recognized, however, that each of these “insurers” wants to be the “secondary insurer” or insurer of “last resort”. In other words, read all your insurance coverage documents carefully before deciding which to rely most heavily on. Commercially, this type of coverage is generally priced based on the trip’s cost and/or duration, as well as the insured’s age bracket.
Limited Coverage: If the cost of travel insurance is a factor, then coverage that at least includes medical emergencies, evacuation and even repatriation is strongly advised; particularly where the destinations and/or physical activities present clear health risks. This coverage may also include certain types of trip delays and their attendant costs. Generally this type of insurance is “fixed-price” and relatively inexpensive, as it is not determined by the trip’s cost, although the insurer’s age my be a factor.
Read the Fine Print! Not just the summary of coverage, whose language may be very ambiguous! As this traveler recently discovered when submitting a claim for a “trip interruption” event, the Basic “medical, etc.” which has become a standard group policy included in many of our overseas ski trips, will NOT cover events and claims under the “Trip Interruption” clause, as this coverage is available only under the “Trip Cancellation” (full coverage) option. In other words, claims for situations where on the return trip a traffic accident or similar circumstances may prevent reaching an airport in time to board a scheduled flight, resulting in rebooking fees, layover expenses, etc., will not be covered under the “basic medical” insurance.
But, it will cover the cost of trip delays (like overnight lodging and meals) due to missed airline connections when a flight is delayed and a connecting flight is missed for reasons not under an airline’s control and therefore not covered by them. Lost or delayed baggage costs are also covered. Lesson learned: please read the entire policy to learn the extent of its coverage, and not be surprised and disappointed after the fact.
Shop Around: There are many travel agents and insurance carriers in this business, with some rates available for half the cost of others, so shop around. The BRSC may be of help to its Member Clubs or individual travelers in identifying firms with reasonable rates and claims-response records.