Don’t Get Tripped-Up By Travel Insurance

May 6, 2010


Our world of travel is topsy-turvy with reports of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, airline bankruptcies, and threats of terrorism.  This grim news has provoked a rash of panic and angst, and has put a damper on many of our travel plans.  If you are contemplating taking a trip, and plunking down hard-earned money to purchase travel insurance, carefully map out your travel plans to insure that your travels are safe, stress-free, and economical.


Travel insurance can be a costly proposition, and if you do not journey with vigilance, it can end up costing you more than the price of your trip.  It may not even be worth it for you to purchase insurance, since the value of insurance often depends on the type and cost of the trip that you are planning to take.  Generally, travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation or interruption, trip delays, lost or delayed luggage and its’ contents, and medical coverage if you become sick or injured while traveling.  The tricky wicket when selecting coverage is the variability in the cost and coverage of policies, and the microscopic fine print that excludes many of the protections that you expect should or will be covered.  Do not assume that acts of terrorism, outbreaks of war, civil disturbance, or insurrection will be covered.  If terrorism is covered by your policy, carefully read the exceptions to your policy.  Often, there are stringent limitations imposed.  Some insurers will decline coverage of terrorism in certain countries, or they will only cover you if a terrorist incident occurs within ten days of when you are scheduled to arrive at your foreign destination.  Most policies are not going to cover you if you cancel because you get cold feet, and are concerned that the place you are going to may be dangerous.  Also, fear of contracting H1N1, which was a concern this year, or of getting sick, generally are not conditions covered by most travel insurance policies.  You may have better luck getting a refund by speaking with your travel company.


Weather the storm with travel insurance so that it is not a complete wash out.  Explore what company provides the best insurance policy for your needs.  A good starting point is to access:,, and  These sites will provide you with side-by-side comparisons of policies offered from most of the major travel insurance companies.  Make sure that your policy includes “supplier default,” which reimburses you if the company that you book with goes out of business, or if an airline or cruise line goes out of business or files for bankruptcy.  One of the essential elements that you want covered is trip cancellation and interruption insurance.  This will protect you if you or a family member has an unforeseen illness, death, or accident.  It is critical that you scrutinize your policy to ascertain terms such as: “unforeseen;” who is viewed as a family member; and whether preexisting medical conditions are covered.  As a rule, most policies exclude coverage for pregnancy and for preexisting conditions.  Therefore, if your trick knee, or bad back flares up before or during your trip, you may be out of luck.  Also, if your trip is cancelled or interrupted by a hurricane, earthquake, or by inclement weather disruptions, you will only be covered if you purchased your insurance before the storm is predicted.  Before you purchase travel insurance, insure that you are not duplicating coverage.  Review your current insurance policies.  It is quite possible that you already have sufficient coverage through your homeowner’s, health, life, and automobile insurance policies, and even through coverage provided by your credit cards.

Purchase your travel insurance from an independent insurance company, rather than from your tour operator or cruise line.  Otherwise, if they go out of business suddenly, your insurance policy, as well as your trip is worthless.

Consumer Techno-Savvy Tip: If you have a predilection for a particular seat on an airplane, travel to where you can select the airline and find the seat with the most legroom, and other amenities that are important to you. 

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address:


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