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Travel Insurance: What Your Clients Should Know

July 10, 2009 By: George Dooley

Here are some facts from the UStiA commissioned “Myths and Misconceptions” study, comparing various other coverage to travel insurance, that home-based agents can share with their clients:


• Events beyond an airline’s control, such as delayed or cancelled flights caused by weather or strikes, are not necessarily reimbursable for non-refundable fares. There are also no federal mandates requiring refunds, and each airline has its own policy. Most comprehensive travel insurance policies, however, do provide coverage for such non-refundable expenses.


While airline policies regarding lost luggage are inconsistent, most travel insurance allows for greater reimbursement

• Each airline reimburses for lost or delayed luggage according to its individual policy. On the other hand, travel insurance reimburses up to a maximum amount for a wider range of expenses incurred because of baggage delay.

Credit Cards

• Credit cards don’t automatically cover medical emergencies, and most will not cover medical transportation and evacuation, where costs can be $50,000 or more. Most comprehensive travel insurance policies cover both medical emergencies and medical transportation/evacuation.

• Trip cancellation and interruption coverage provided by comprehensive travel insurance policies allows customers to cancel for three times as many reasons as credit cards do.

• If the credit card does offer coverage for cancellation and interruption, usually it’s only in the case of death, illness or injury of the insured or a family member. In some cases, coverage can extend to financial default of the carrier. Travel insurance, on the other hand, covers a wider range of circumstances and individuals, including traveling companions and situations like work-related issues, having to serve jury duty, accidents en route to the airport, and more.

• Eighty-five percent of credit-card insurance policies reviewed did not provide built-in trip cancellation insurance and of those that did, reimbursements were generally limited to a maximum of $1,500 per person. By comparison, comprehensive travel insurance policies will cover trips over $20,000.

• Credit cards offer limited coverage for baggage delays, damage or loss, and only if travel was purchased with the card.

• Credit-card coverage doesn’t reimburse expenses for weather and other travel delays. In contrast, comprehensive travel insurance policies reimburse for incidental expenses and overnight accommodations up to a specified limit if a plane flight is delayed, usually beyond four to six hours.


• Traditional domestic health insurance plans typically limit coverage for out-of-country medical expenses to those that are emergency-related. This coverage is subject to high deductibles and co-pays.

• Most domestic healthcare plans do not cover out?of?country emergency medical transportation, routinely covered by travel insurance.

• In more than half of its policies, Medicare does not typically provide coverage for medical expenses incurred outside the U.S. Coverage under Medigap C and other more expensive policies is limited to 80 percent of emergency treatment costs, with a $250 deductible.

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