Nothing like writing a blog post about a dry but extremely important solo traveler trip planning topic. As we all have come to realize, many things can go wrong when we're traveling. Missed connections, lost luggage, weather-related contingencies, illness or accidents, I could go on and on. The worst thing about most travel mishaps is many times they can cost you a considerable amount of money to cure. Like any other type of insurance, when things go wrong while traveling, you are thankful that you have planned ahead by investing in a travel insurance policy that will pay for potential risks. Smart solo travelers don't leave home without it!
The first thing a solo traveler should do before purchasing a travel insurance policy is take the time to get educated on the topic. There are many reputable companies that offer this type of coverage. Most have several standard plans that cover single trip, multi-trips or annual policies for domestic and international travel. The more expensive the plan, the more risks insured.
The following is a list of the Most Common Risks covered:
- Trip Cancellation
- Trip Interruption
- Trip Delay Due to Weather
- Medical Treatment and Transportation
- Lost, Damaged or Stolen Baggage, Personal Items, Travel Documents
- Delayed Baggage Emergency Items Replacement
- Missed Flight Connections Due to Airline Rescheduling or Delay
- Accidental Death, Injury or Disablement
- Overseas Funeral Arrangements 10)Reparation of Remains
- Highjacking Anyone of these travel issues can turn an adventure into a catastrophe. Having travel insurance can reduce your stress level when things start "going downhill."
Some travel insurance companies offer Additional Coverage for an added cost for the following travel situations:
- Dangerous Sports Activities
- Travel to High Risk Countries
- Cancellation for any Reason
- Third Party Insolvency
- Pre-Existing Medical Conditions.
Injuries sustained from mountain-climbing, skiing, scuba or sky diving require added insurance to cover the costs incurred to deal with this potential occurrence. Likewise, even though it's rare, a third party travel company you've booked with will become insolvent before your start your trip leaving your trip. Unfortunately, this can and does happen. Low cost air carriers, tour operators or alternative lodging options can vanish leaving empty handed. With travel insurance many of these unlikely events can be financially mitigated.
Common Travel Insurance EXCLUSIONS everyone should be aware of are the following:
- Pre-Existing Medical Conditions or Traveling for the Purpose of Having Medical Treatment
- Injury or Sickness Caused by Alcohol, Drug Use or Reckless Behavior.
It's a sad fact that we live and travel in world that must cope with the reality of terrorism. More and more policies have trip cancellation coverage that include terrorism events but "only if the Act of Terrorism" meets the policies parameters such as the place of terror, type of terror incident and the date of the terror event. Fully understand what is and is not covered in your travel insurance policy for acts of terrorism.
From this brief travel insurance overview, you have an idea of what unforeseen travel events can be covered for loss. There are two excellent websites, www.squaremouth.com and www. insuremytrip.com that provide the solo traveler with some excellent research tools to decided on which policy from which company is best for each unique trip. Cost and coverage comparisons with company hotline phone numbers are listed to assist the you and answer any questions.
Once you have an idea of what type of policy you need to purchase and its cost, I highly recommend calling the travel insurance company and go over, specifically, what risks are covered and if, the amount of coverage is adequate. Explain to the agent your specific coverage requirements to make sure the policy you are considering buying is appropriate for your trip. Also, ask about policy exclusions and triggers that would cause a claim to be denied.
A Case in Point: last year I missed a flight connection in Paris that was due to an extremely slow immigration process because of a heightened terrorism alert. I arrived at the connecting airline's departure gate 29 minutes before my flight to New York was to take off. The plane doors had already been locked and I was told I couldn't board. I pleaded stating my tardiness was out of my control. Bottom line, I had to purchase a new plane ticket home on another airline which cost me $1,800. Ouch! At the time I wasn't that concerned because I had travel insurance and the new flight actually got me back to my final destination, New Orleans, earlier than the original one.
Within two weeks after my trip I filed my claim. Low and behold it was DENIED. I was in shock but the company representative shared "missed flight connections due to immigrations delays ARE NOT COVERED!" Airline delays, weather issues, accidents on the way to the airport would have triggered coverage. Needless to say, I was highly aggravated but the point is, know what is and is not covered in your policy. The best way to fully understand your coverage is to read the policy and then go over it with an agent to double check your understanding of its coverage. If you are not satisfied, either secure additional insurance or cancel the policy and purchase one that does cover all of the travel contingencies your are concerned about.
After this disturbing incident, I ceased to do business with "that" travel insurer and now bind all of my travel insurance policies with Allianz, a highly rated carrier that Astrid Solo Travel Advisor has an affiliate relationship with. Purchasing travel insurance from Allianz is easy and their policies are affordable. Go to their highly informative website for a wealth of information and to buy a travel policy. In the footer of this page click on Allianz and this will link you directly to its website.
For an instant price quote the Allianz landing page will allow you to enter your upcoming trip information and give you the costs of the different types of plans it offers for your excursion. Also, you will be given the dollar amount limits for the different insured conditions the policy covers. As well as, a brief explanation of the meaning of what these insured conditions are and their basic parameters. A 24/7 Hotline phone number, (1-866-724-5082), is given that is available to fully explain and clarify all coverage questions and to assist the insured when a claim situation has occurred while traveling.
Plans can be purchased by credit or debit card directly from the Allianz website. Your plan will be emailed to your shortly after full payment. You have ten days to review the policy. If you are not completely satisfied with the travel insurance coverage, Allianz will refund your money as long as you haven't begun your trip or have filed a claim.
Additional important information found on the Allianz website are Coverage Alerts, Filing a Claim Instructions, Monitoring a Claim's Status, How Travel Insurance Works Basics and some insiteful Travel and Destination Guides. Being aware of what Coverage Alerts, events that are considered "known and forseeable" for travel insurance purposes on the date listed of the event, are in place at the time you bind your travel insurance is key to whether a claim will be honored. For instance if there is a Hurricane Storm Alert the insurance must be purchased before this alert to be covered for a potential claim. "Policies purchased on or after the warning date do not cover losses related to that event." The Las Vegas Shooting, the Manhattan Truck Attack, the Texas Shooting, the Bali Volcano and the southern California Wildfires are some examples of non-weather related Coverage Alerts which are also types of events that disqualify coverage if policy's are not bound before these event types.
By now as you can surmise from this blog post chosing the appropriate travel insurance policy can be tricky and somewhat confusing. To simplify how to approach securing good coverage, I have developed the following list of helpful tips.
Eight Solo Traveler Tips for Buying Travel Insurance and Filing a Claim:
- Research Travel Insurance Options- be sure to look into coverage different Insurance Carriers provide. We recommend visiting the following research websites; www.squaremouth.com, www.insuremytrip.com
- Before Purchasing a Policy, Ask Questions- call a company agent for coverage specifics and exclusions
- Purchase Your Policy Within 14 Days of Booking Any Expenditures for the Trip
- Read the Trip Insurance Policy- fully understand what is covered and excluded. Notify the company immediately of any incorrect personal info or trip documentation
- Retain all Trip Details, Documentation and Receipts for any Expenses before and During the Trip
- Obtain Medical Records Copies before Returning Home
- Fill Out Claim Forms Thoroughly and in a Timely Manner
- Fully Understand the Claims Process- ask questions, know time deadlines and methods of communications. Record dates, time and substance of all correspondence, as well as, persons with whom you have talked with about the claim.
Research, seek clarification, understand your policy, timely policy purchase, save all trip, financial and medical documentation, timely filing of claims are good travel insurance acquisition habits. Unlike most other insurance coverage, in most instances you will have to come out of pocket to solve a problem when traveling and upon you return home you will then have to file a claim for financial reimbursement.
As a disclaimer I feel I must state; I am not an insurance agent or expert and the information in this blog is geared to sharing travel insurance basics and ideas. Always seek advice from licensed, travel insurance agents before binding any travel insurance coverage.
Travel insurance is not a necessity but it's wise for the solo traveler to have it when traveling. The added peace of mind a travel insurance policy gives you when travel mishaps occur is worth the expenditure. Knowing you will be reimbursed or compensated for covered out of pocket expenses, missed pre-paid activities, lost or damaged luggage, trip interruption, trip cancellation, medical treatment and any other covered claim is a prudent financial expenditure. Smart solo travelers purchase travel insurance. Don't Leave Home Without It!