First Person: Travel Insurance Isn’t a Cure All

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My wife and I had to use travel insurance when I was injured at home about a week before a scheduled ten day Alaska. The insurance came in handy and covered the cost of the trip, but there were many possible things that would not have been covered and the process for filing a claim was difficult and lengthy.

We booked a 10-day cruise to Alaska leaving from Seattle. The total cost of the trip, for my wife and myself, in a balcony cabin was about $6,000 including all taxes and fees. We first paid a $500 deposit when we booked the trip, then paid the balance in full shortly thereafter as the cruise line offered a small additional discount for paying in full.

We booked the cruise about 60 days prior to the sailing date, and paid for everything about 30 days prior. Through AAA, where we bought the cruise package itself, we purchased travel insurance at the same time, which cost about $450 for my wife and I.

On the Friday before our scheduled Monday departure I tripped over our large American Bulldog and broke my ankle. I went to the hospital and had to get a cast and was in a lot of pain. So the idea of spending 10 days on a ship trying to dance with crutches suddenly didn’t have the same appeal.

We canceled the trip and went about collecting on our travel insurance for the cost. We had to submit a claim form, along with a note from the doctor. The insurance company also sent some paperwork for the doctor to fill out and sign. Things were delayed slightly when they also asked for copies of the x-rays. After about 90 days, we received payment for the cost of the trip.

We had paid the full amount of the trip and it took almost three months from the day we made the claim, until the day we received the check, which I think is far too long. Although our claim was honored, in reading the fine print of the contract, we were amazed by the number of exclusions. However, it also does cover a lot of reasons for canceling a trip, including death, illness, getting fired from your job, jury duty or crime.

If you are planning a long or expensive trip, tour or cruise, I do recommend travel insurance. You also need to have trip interruption coverage, in case something happens during your journey. Also, travelers should have medical evacuation coverage and medical insurance that will pay expenses incurred while traveling. Many regular US medical plans, including Medicare, will not pay for medical care outside the USA.

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