Most Americans Unprepared for Travel Catastrophes

One in eight U.S. adults (12 percent) either had their travel impacted, or considered changing their travel plans, due to natural disasters or world events since summer 2010, according to recently released findings of a survey conducted for the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA).
Yet, of travelers impacted, only 29 percent had travel insurance, the survey revealed. Of those, 96 percent reported satisfaction with their travel insurance, and nearly half - 49 percent - said they were very satisfied.

According to the survey, 18 – 34 year olds were the most likely to have their travel plans changed or impacted by natural or other events (20 percent), followed by college graduates (17 percent), and parents of a child under 18 (16 percent).  UStiA says understandably, these groups were also more likely to say they would purchase travel insurance for an upcoming trip (34 percent of 18 – 34 year olds, 28 percent of college graduates, and 26 percent of those with a child at home).

Additionally, more than a quarter (27 percent) of those whose household income exceeded $50,000 said they would likely purchase travel insurance. Slightly more than one in five (22 percent) aged 55 or older said they planned to purchase travel insurance.
Four out of five adults (82 percent) with household income of over $50,000 said they planned to take a leisure trip of 100 miles or more in 2012, compared to 54 percent of households with lower income, while married adults were slightly more likely to take a vacation than those who were unmarried (75 percent vs. 64 percent).

UStiA notes that altering travel plans due to unforeseen events such as storms, and other natural disasters like the Iceland volcano in 2010, and the Japan tsunami in 2011 can cost travelers money for extra hotel stays, meals, and transportation.
Travel insurance can reimburse travelers for expenses when their trip is delayed or interrupted by unforeseen disasters such as storms, floods or earthquakes. During a crisis, travel insurance and assistance services can also play an important role in helping with evacuation plans and other arrangements to keep travelers out of harm’s way, UStiA says.
UStiA advises that travel insurance offers other important peace-of-mind benefits. If a traveler becomes injured or ill, travel insurance arranges needed medical treatment, reimburses costs not covered by traditional health insurance, and, when needed, provides medical evacuation.

UStiA says that when a traveler or family member becomes ill and has to cancel a trip, travel insurance will reimburse non-refundable expenses. Travel insurance also helps protect personal belongings and baggage while traveling, helps in providing legal assistance when things go wrong overseas, and offers a variety of other benefits to travelers.
Assistance services – included in many travel insurance policies or available separately –aid travelers caught in emergency situations, such as the 2011 uprising in Egypt, or the 2012 Costa Concordia tragedy off the coast of Italy.

UStiA says services can include providing important safety intelligence, assisting in replacement of lost documents such as passports, and even helping arrange transportation out of a destination deemed unsafe.

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