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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Insure Your Travel Plans 8.27.11

It seems like the last couple of years have been rife with natural disasters which have screwed up travel plans (and the lives of people living across the globe). Now, while I try very hard to be an optimistic person, there’s never any guarantee that your vacation will be ruined right before you leave or while you are in the midst of it with something like a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, flash flood, fire, riots or even the dreaded ash cloud. This is why in the wake of Hurricane Irene, it might be a good idea to take a look at the benefits of travel insurance.

When I travel, I rarely get travel insurance, mostly because I never think anything might happen to me. Once I got it in conjunction with a cruise I was taking, but even though there was a storm that prevented us from docking in one of our ports, nothing else unfortunate happened, and so we never had to use it. I suppose that thinking back on all of our travels, we should have really considered getting insurance, especially with our fondness for traveling during hurricane season. It’s not that we want to get caught up in a hurricane, but that time of year is more affordable and less crowded and we probably just assume that either it’ll happen or it won’t. Of course, with the hurricane warning in Nassau that closed almost everything around us, the tropical storm in Cancun that turned into a Hurricane Wilma the week after we left, our car break-in in Quito and our honeymoon involving airfare to/from London and train service to/from Paris, we should really start looking into getting some coverage on our next big getaway.


Of course, travel insurance doesn’t just cover natural disasters and unfortunate incidents. It can also cover medical emergencies, alternate transportation, lost baggage, cancelled flights, stolen passports/wallets, personal emergency trip cancellation and more. Imagine if you had a trip planned to Egypt and right before you went they closed down all entry to the country because of the riots. Under normal circumstances, all the money you paid for your trip to that point would be lost, unless you paid with a credit card that has coverage for any of those things. That would totally suck, right? While I wouldn’t recommend spending the extra money for a local trip or to go somewhere within you home country (like, I’m not going to get travelers insurance to go to Disneyland for 4 days), because it’s highly likely you can work something out with the hotel or rebook your airfare for a fee, I would urge you to think about getting it for international trips and any big money trips you plan to take in the future.  Planning a once in a lifetime African Safari, only to have it ruined by terrorist activity near the airport would really break your heart...and your wallet.

For most travel insurance, you should expect to pay around 5-8% of your total trip cost. Decide ahead of time if this is something you want to go forward with. The best time to buy your trip insurance is right after you’ve put down deposits (or paid in full) for your trip. The closer you can secure both of these things, the better off you will be, as there are certain benefits that are only available within 2 weeks of booking your trip.


So, where can you get travelers insurance? Many times if you buy airfare or a package deal from a booking engine like Travelocity or directly from the airline it is offered to you on the last page before you hit enter to buy your trip. Take a look at costs and what it covers. Look into the credit card you are using and what is covered and what isn’t. They might include extra auto insurance, trip cancellation, lost or stolen bags and some will cover a trip up to a certain dollar amount.

If you’re looking for customizable plans, check out:
  • Travelguard – They have plans for travelers of all kinds, including budget, golfers, last-minute, adventure travelers and those that want several tiers of comprehensive coverage.
  • InsureMyTrip – The #1 travel insurance site, purchase a whole package or just separate kinds of insurance, like trip cancellation, baggage, medical and evacuation.  
  • AAA members – Are you a member of AAA? Then you already have access to great trip insurance. With their Trip Assist program, choose from a variety of different insurance packages that suit your needs.
Do you NEED insurance? Are you going to an area where they are likely to get bad weather or  hurricanes? Get it! Will you be in an area that has a lot of political strife? Get it! Did you save up forever to be able to go on this trip? Get it! Is there a chance someone in your family might fall ill? Get it! May work obligations prevent you from going on your trip? Get it! You may think an extra 8% on top of your vacation expenses is more than you want to spend, but think about how much it will save you if something happens and your trip is cancelled or ruined. Check this picture I snapped on our way back to the hotel in the Bahamas. Soon after it started to pour down rain, the news issued a hurricane warning and people were encouraged to stay inside or seek shelter in one of the big hotels, since those building were the most secure. Luckily, that was the worst of it and the hurricane passed us by, but you could still see the damage made by the previous hurricane that hit land.

Look at the wind and sky in Nassau.
Learn more about what kind of insurance you should get, why you should get it and compare companies that sell it with the TravelInsurance Review. Do you have personal experience with travel insurance that you’ve used or when you wish you’d bought some? I’d like to hear your stories. You can join in the Savvy Living Discussion, too!



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 Project Runway Live Chat          Mon. 8/29 9pm EST/5pm PST

I hope you can join me on the Project Runway live chat on Ebates on Monday with Kristin from BonBon Rose Girls and several other community leaders. We'll be talking about the designers, Tim Gunn, the fashion and more! 



Winner! There are two great giveaways happening. 


The first is for a Travelon Flat Out HangingToiletry bag stuffed with a bunch of awesome stuff: GoToobs courtesy of Human Gear, rinseless laundry detergent courtesy of SoakWash, a selection of LaFresh wipes, some travel sizes of men's Jack Black toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, Colgate Wisps, nail polish remover wipes, anti-bacterial wipes, sunblock, body wash, Man on the Move soap leaves and (not shown) 2 toothbrush sanitizers. What more could you ask for? Throw in some lip balm and your toothbrush and go! Enter here or click on the Current Giveaway tab at the top of the page.

The second giveaway is sponsored by Travelon. They have generously offered to send one of our readers their fantastic Pack-flat Backup Bag. It's an extra carry-on bag for your travels. Packs flat for your journey there and then unzips into a full carry-on bag that fits under the airplane seat for all the goodies you bought on your trip. Click here to enter. Drawing will take place on September 1.

Some photos courtesy of Daily Venture.
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