UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Travel protection is one of the top three options offered by cruise lines, right along with prepaid gratuities and transfers to/from the port of embarkation. Travelers opt in or out for a number of common reasons; some good, others not-so-good. It’s a topic we have not visited here in awhile so an updated travel protection guide is in order.
You Have Options
First to know, before you opt in to the easy-to-add cruise line version of travel protection, also a good choice for most travelers: there are other options. We suggest these, in this order:
- Your Insurance Agent: Check with your insurance agent, the licensed person who might handle your auto, home, health or life insurance. That trusted source might have exactly what you need or will be able to offer an appropriate suggestion based on their confidential knowledge of you and your needs.
- Your Credit Card Company: Check with your credit card company. Many offer travel protection when you use their card to buy travel. The best way to see if this is a viable option is to call the number on the back of your card and ask “If I buy travel with your card, does it provide travel protection?” If the answer is “yes”, that’s the signal to investigate further. The coverage included may or may not be sufficient to meet your potential needs. More on defining your needs shortly. The next question would be “Where do I look or who do I call for details?”
- A Third Party Source: While cruise lines offer travel protection for those who sail with them and credit card companies offer it for those who use their card, unrelated third-party insurers are also a good source to check. Major third-party sources include TravelGuard,
Defining Your Insurance Needs
Your travel agent is a good source for defining your insurance needs for a number of reasons. They already have your personal information on file as well as your travel dates, date of birth, the places you will visit and other variables needed on the way to a price and the appropriate coverage for you. Still, there are parts of the process that most travel agents can and cannot do
What Your Travel Agent Can Do:
Travel agents can indeed identify that travel protection is available their clients’ trips by:
- Discussing and providing general coverage information
- Providing brochures
- Referencing general details of coverage offered
- Provide a Description of Coverage
- Receive & record traveler information
- Quote a price
- Process your application
- Collect premiums
What Your Travel Agent Can NOT Do
Part of the travel agent responsibility is also not to provide answers to some other common questions. It’s not that they don’t know those answers but are not legally qualified to provide them
- Answer technical questions about benefits, exclusions and conditions
- Evaluate adequacy of customer’s existing/personal insurance coverages
- Present themselves as a licensed insurance agent unless they are
The Most Important Call To Make is to the usually toll-free 800-number of the travel insurance company itself where qualified insurance agents will be standing by to ask your “What if?” questions. Those questions might include
- What if my (insert previous medical condition that is no longer a problem) acts up? Will I be covered?
- What if the cruise line cancels my cruise for a weather-related issue?
- What if some situation beyond my control happens and I just don’t feel comfortable sailing at that time?
Comparing plan to plan, similar coverage be less expensive through the cruise line for one big reason: they calculate the price based on the price of the cruise without consideration for age. Nearly all other options consider age as a variable in the equation with older travelers paying more and younger paying less. In fact, some travel insurance companies include coverage for kids at no cost when included on the same policy as older travelers.
Some General Information About Travel Insurance
- Travel insurance covers two main areas: cancellation and medical. Different policies include other coverage ranging from flight delays to lost luggage and other items that they might as well throw in as they are rarely used. For example, if an airline loses your luggage, depending on where they lose it, you have legal rights and limits on coverage. Insurance with lost luggage coverage will help pay what the airline does not pay.
- Secondary Coverage: On the medical coverage part, It is almost always “secondary” insurance, meaning that before it pays on a claim, that claim must first be submitted to your primary health care insurer be that coverage through an employer, medicare or some other existing coverage. In my case, I smashed a thumb in a door on a Princess cruise when the ship listed one way, I held on to the bathroom door jam to brace myself and found that thumb between the metal door jam and he door. Which brings us to the next thing to know
- Reimbursement not Payment:Travel insurance almost always reimburses you. On board, I had to pay for the visit to the medical center which was eventually reimbursed by the travel insurance company after my health care plan paid for some of it.
- You Never Get Back The Cost Of The Insurance: Whatever it pays, the cost of the insurance itself is deducted from the payout. This is one of the most commonly misunderstood parts of the world of travel insurance so we might as well get that out of the way.