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Cruise News: Travel Insurance

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Going "bare" is an insurance slang for having a potential liability that is not covered by insurance. In today's world, insurance is something that we purchase routinely for our cars, home, and business. However, sometimes we don't realize exactly what type of liabilities we may encounter in our travels

The Insurance Claim

Most travelers never file an insurance claim. The ones who do have a major event and file a claim or utilize the services of the company feel that the cost of the insurance was inconsequential compared to the service provided. There are several excellent travel insurance policies on the market. Travel agents have preferred suppliers that they work with on a daily basis. If there are any questions the major travel insurance companies have toll-free numbers consumers can utilize for specific questions or clarifications.

If a comprehensive policy is purchased there may be no need for any additional coverage once you verify that your exposure is adequately covered and that you have met the pre-existing conditions coverage specifications.

The Policy

In reviewing the policy you are considering there are several items that you need to verify as included in the policy. If these things are not included in your policy ask your travel agent to refer you to a company who can provide the type of coverage that you need or add the coverage you need through a separate policy. There may be times that you need to purchase more than one policy or a rider to cover potential liabilities

The Coverages

Following are coverages that are often found in travel insurance policies.

Baggage and baggage delay

Trip cancellation or interruption

Trip delay or missed connections

Itinerary change

Death and dismemberment

Medical evacuation

Travel accident and illness

Return of mortal remains

Travel assistance

Generally the most financially significant liability that is encountered in traveling is due to injury, illness or death.

Most uninsured travelers are unprepared for the huge expenditure that even a non-life threatening accident or illness can involve. If a patient is not insured or prepared for these expenses, there are greatly added stresses to an already stressful situation.

For a US traveler who is going to Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc. $50,000 of emergency medical transportation coverage is recommended as a minimum. The more exotic the destination the higher the coverage required. Destinations in Europe require a minimum of $250,000 in coverage, and remote and inaccessible destinations such as Antarctic require at least 1 million in coverage.

Even what would be routine medical care costs in the states can quickly escalate if a known intermediary is not available to intercede in the patient's behalf. When combined with the refusal of many US based health insurance plans to pay for care out of the country the patient may be at risk for large medical bills unless covered by travel accident and illness insurance.

Although return of mortal remains seems straightforward, this can be a very difficult problem in some countries. This situation can be further complicated if the casket must land in other countries with even more stringent standards than the originating country.

Knowing which funeral homes in the country of origin are acceptable to the receiving and final destination countries is critical in what will already be a very trying time for those accompanying. Knowledgeable travel insurance and travel assistance firms are greatly appreciated at these times.

Travel Assistance

Travel Assistance is a broad based area of service. It can be as simple as getting lost and requiring an interpreter for assistance to return to your home base. Other things that are offered are assistance in finding an English speaking physician, dentist or lawyer.

Travel assistance also comes into play in accident or illness in determining the medical facilities that are available and capable of meeting patient needs. There are many other valuable services often offered under this umbrella.

Being covered for pre-existing medical conditions that the traveler, a companion of the traveler (related or not) and non-traveling family members have at the time the policy is purchased is vitally important.

Generally the exclusionary period involves the period of time immediately prior to buying the policy-anywhere from one year to sixty days. However, most major travel insurance companies will now waive the exclusionary period if the policy is purchased within a specified time.

In reviewing the coverage that you need, first verify what coverage's you already have in place. Following are sources of insurance that you may have in place that may be of assistance in traveling.

Health insurance policies are changing so rapidly that some have revisions every few months. Now is a good time to verify with your carrier that your planned trip is within their coverage terms (As companies are trying harder to keep premiums down some services are being cut).

Remember that if you are on Medicare, that Medicare benefits are not available outside of the United States.

Air evacuation plans may only cover you if you are within a set distance from your home or in the company's catchment area. Before assuming that you have coverage, it is best to check with the company that you may be depending on for assistance.

Credit cards, especially gold and platinum cards, frequently offer perks such as baggage insurance, damage collision waiver for rental cars and travel assist. Ask about travel accident insurance as well.

Home owners or renter's insurance will frequently cover lost or stolen property even away from home. Your luggage, cameras, jewelry, etc. may be covered under one of these policies.

Business insurance purchased by some companies includes wide ranging protection and is sometimes included for non-business trips. Don't assume that coverage that is in place at home will cover you out of the country. If you are uninsured and you do not have a travel assistance company to adequately assist you during an emergency, you should have the ability to pay for any exposure by credit card or wire transfer. In this case a trusted friend or advisor should be able to access emergency funds. You may be detained until your debts are satisfied.

Travel Insurance Checklist

(Some items may be covered by sources other than travel insurance)

Necessary Coverages

Medical Evacuation and Transportation:

$50,000. minimum per person for Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, etc.

$250,000. minimum per person for Europe and accessible locations*

1 million minimum for exotic and inaccessible locations*

Policies with these coverages should also include:

Return of mortal remains

Travel injury and illness

Travel assistance to assist with locating an appropriate physician, dentist, hospital, pharmacy or lawyer

Assistance arranging hospital deposits

Pre-Existing Conditions Coverage

Suggested Coverages:

Trip cancellation or interruption

Operator failure, default or bankruptcy of the carrier

Death and dismemberment

Baggage and Baggage Delay

Itinerary change

Trip delay or missed connections

Emergency Cash Transfer

Optional Coverage

Security Evacuation

Travel insurance policies may provide secondary insurance coverage rather than primary coverage

* May require purchase of a separate policy

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