Susan Michelle's Compass
Travel Insurance: Protecting Your Journey In Unpredictable Times
By Susan Michelle
Oct 26, 2008 - 2:56:18 PM
LOS ANGELES—When Joe Streisser headed to Mexico for his daughter’s
destination wedding, he had visions of tropical sunsets and a picture-perfect
ushering of his little girl down the aisle, but an accidental fall the day
before the big day quickly turned Joe’s fantasy into a nightmare of unavailable
medical care in a foreign country that didn’t even speak his language.
Luckily, Joe had bought travel insurance before the trip. So, after
limping down the aisle and suffering through the ceremony, Joe was flown out of
his remote locale via private plane, back to America, and whisked into surgery —all
without paying an extra dime.
As trips get more expensive, natural disasters and terrorism loom, and medical
coverage grows questionable, travel insurance has become something I now always
Why? At its most basic, travel insurance covers two things: 1) Unexpected
trip cancellation: i.e., losses from canceling, postponing or cutting short a
trip due to medical or other emergency, and 2) Unexpected medical mishaps:
mid-trip calamity requiring healthcare or quick departure that’s not covered by
your Blue Shield.
You miss your flight due to a traffic jam en route to the airport? You
can’t get on your train because the country’s rail system’s down from a
terrorist act? Something at work, like getting fired, prohibits your
departure? You broke your arm in Thailand? All are covered by travel
What doesn’t it cover? Impending hurricane, Wall Street crash, tour
cancelation by the company, and divorce notification from your spouse as you’re
headed to the airport might be covered, but most likely it is not.
Premiums vary according to cost of the trip, age of the travelers, problems
covered, and, possibly, the destination and length of the journey overall —but,
on average expect to pay about five to 10 percent of total trip cost just to
insure it. That’s $100-200 for a $2,000 trip.
If you’re not sure you can afford that, ask yourself: can you afford to write
off the entire trip, plus several thousand dollars for medical care or unexpected
return flight, should disaster strike? If not, consider insurance a necessity.
If you do, don’t wait to buy it. You’re only covered for pre-existing
medical conditions and financial default (e.g., your trip provider goes
bankrupt) if you buy the insurance within seven to 21 days of making your
initial trip payment.
Shop around before purchasing. InsureMyTrip.com compares quotes from 19
different insurers, including three of the biggest: CSA, Access America and
Travel Guard. Some credit card companies even offer basic insurance if
you charge the trip to their card. If there’s something you already know
might affect your trip beforehand —Fifi the cat’s living on borrowed time; your
bum knee is questionable; your husband’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown —make
sure that potentiality is covered in your policy before you sign. And, of
course, always read the fine print.
That way, if you go splat while at a destination wedding yourself, you’ll know
your accident care will be as sound as, hopefully, the bride and groom’s
About the Author: A former Hollywood producer and now second-generation
travel professional, Susan Michelle travels the planet as the “face” of the
fashion-forward Compass travel lifestyle brand.