The Traveler: Travel insurance is a good idea

Travel insurance … don’t leave home without it.

I love selling travel. I do not love selling travel insurance/protection. I hate it even more when my customers don’t buy travel insurance and then have a problem. I’ll let you in on a little secret … I never bought travel insurance before I became a travel agent. Now that I have witnessed the problems that can happen when traveling, I would never be without it.

One of my first cruise sales was to a family of four. They didn’t see the need for travel insurance and I let it go. They were in Cozumel swimming when a fellow passenger jumped off a big toy in the water and got tangled up in the lines holding it in place. The passenger’s leg was cut open from hip to ankle requiring emergency surgery. His family members were in shock wondering what to do. Who stayed and who got back on the ship and most important, was their family member going to get the necessary medical care? Even though my clients weren’t directly involved in this emergency, they saw how important it is to be protected.

There are three main reasons for purchasing travel protection.

1. Weather — You might not be able to leave or return because of weather. We live in Ohio and like to get away to the warmer climes in the winter. Chances are good that you could run into weather problems. Missed your ship? Travel insurance will get you to the next port on your cruise. The reasons go on and on, but mostly you want to protect your money spent for the trip.

2. Health and safety — You trip down the stairs two weeks before your planned trip to China and can’t go. Travel protection will refund your money. You have parents and children who could have medical emergencies before you leave for the your African safari and can’t leave on vacation. Insurance covers that.

3. Necessary medical care abroad — Once you leave the United States, you are usually not covered by insurance issued in the United States. When you step foot onto a cruise ship with a foreign registry, you may not have any health care protection. We are not as young as we think we are, and accidents happen. We break a leg, have chest pains, and have to be hospitalized. Your spouse is put up in a hotel while you are in the hospital, and then if you need a nurse or doctor to travel home with you, all that is covered. Whether you are traveling domestically or abroad, a travel medical plan can help bridge the gap of in-network-only health insurance. It will save you exorbitant out-of-pocket fees if you need to see a doctor for any ailment, minor and serious.

There are many types of travel plans. The cancel-for-any reason plan is certainly the most flexible but usually the most expensive. Some policies refund a voucher for future travel rather than money spent, so be sure to ask questions.

A good travel plan should give you peace of mind that the money you’re spending on your trip is not lost. It should protect your investments in airfare, hotel and cruise and offer medical protection. The cost for travel protection usually runs 4 percent to 10 percent per person of the overall trip. Many plans will cover pre-existing conditions if purchased when the reservation is made.

Travel protection may seem like a bad investment until you need it. I have stood on the top deck of a ship watching someone life-flighted and have prayed for him, and hoped he had travel protection to cover the cost. I recommend that you don’t leave home without it!

By Marci DeWitt

Contributing Columnist

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at [email protected]