While travel insurance offers a wide array of benefits in any number of emergency situations, many people are willing to gamble with their vacation investment, says a new survey conducted for the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA). The association reports the survey revealed that only 22 percent of Americans -- or roughly one out of five –whose travels were impacted by medical conditions, natural disasters and other events, had travel insurance.
To help dispel misconceptions, UStiA offers a list of some common travel insurance myths, including:
- Myth 1: I don’t need travel insurance because I’m already covered. People often think their health or homeowners insurance, credit cards, and other means will fully cover them in case of travel emergencies. However, neither health or homeowners insurance, nor most credit card policies reimburse nonrefundable travel payments if you need to cancel a trip because of illness. Likewise, health insurance policies may not cover medical evacuation, especially abroad. Nor will other types of insurances help reimburse emergency expenses for accommodations and incidentals if your travels are interrupted or delayed because of a natural or other catastrophe. According to a survey conducted for the UStiA, no other single source provides the full spectrum of coverage and services that comprehensive travel insurance does.
- Myth 2: Nothing will happen to me. One in six Americans (17%) say their travel plans have been impacted by medical conditions, natural disasters including severe weather; or mechanical or carrier-caused problems, according to another survey for UStiA. When unforeseen events – from medical emergencies to a lost passport to being caught in a storm -- derail a trip, travel insurance can provide financial coverage and medical services. Consider that a medical evacuation alone could cost up to $100,000 or more. Travel insurance also provides a support network to assist travelers with needed services, from coordinating emergency medical care, to helping locate overnight accommodations, obtaining paperwork for lost or stolen passports, and more.
- Myth 3: My pre-existing condition won’t be covered. Many travel insurance policies cover pre-existing conditions if the policy is purchased within a set amount of time -- usually two weeks -- following initial trip payment. Since requirements may vary, UStiA suggests travelers check with their travel insurance company.
- Myth 4: Travel insurance won’t cover me if something happens to my family or traveling companion. Most travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation or interruption due to an unforeseen family illness or injury back home. Likewise, policies usually cover trip cancellation, interruption, or delay due to illness or injury of a traveling companion.
- Myth 5: I can always get a refund from my travel supplier. Refund policies among travel suppliers, such as airlines, hotels, resorts, cruises and tours vary. Many low-cost air fares, for instance, are nonrefundable. Resorts, hotels, cruises and tours have nonrefundable deposit and payment rules for reservations not cancelled within a certain time. Without trip insurance, travelers risk losing all or part of their deposits and payments if they have to cancel for a covered reason. Some travel suppliers provide a waiver allowing travelers to rebook their trip within a given time frame. However, travel insurance will refund unused nonrefundable payments without requiring the traveler to rebook their vacation arrangements.
- Myth 6: Travel insurance is only cancellation insurance. Travel insurance typically covers far more than cancellation. It covers the entire trip from beginning to end, including interruption or delay due to illness, injury, severe weather, and more. Travel insurance covers medical expenses for emergencies during the trip, and also provides assistance services, such as locating legal help , help in replacing lost or stolen documents, finding emergency hotel accommodations, and more.
For more information, consumer advice on how to shop for travel insurance, and a listing of UStiA member companies, visit the UStiA website, www.ustia.org.
UStiA also sponsors TRIP, a website dedicated to information on travel health, security, and safety. Visit trip.ustia.org