I will be honest BEFORE I started to work in the travel industry over 15 years ago, the answer to the question of purchasing vacation insurance was an absolute NO! I would travel and say to myself. “What is meant to be will be, right?!” However, in 2004 I remember my mother was finally cleared for travel despite her terminal cancer diagnosis, so the term “dead or alive, we are going!” that was our aim. I mean after all I worked for Carnival, and therefore I assumed even though I didn’t take the trip insurance I would be fine right?
Wrong! It was about 2 weeks before our cruise, my mother and I were so excited to have this vacation just us two. We had cruised plenty of times before so the destination was not what mattered, it was the escape from reality that was key. Except, our enthusiasm for the cruise was not enough, because suddenly my mother got really ill and needed to be hospitalized for the umpteenth time! So what did that mean for us? Well, she could no longer go on the cruise; thus I decided to go to my fellow peers and supervisors at Carnival in hope of an exception to be made but none were made. Instead, the overwhelming repeated response was, “Kristina, you should have known better and purchased trip insurance, after all you are a vacation planner!”
It was awful, I had my mother hospitalized but stable, and was told even if she was discharged in the next week her immune system could not be comprised. Therefore, the cruise was completely out of the question for her. My anger was overwhelming at so many different people and components, but truth be told I was the only individual to blame. Why? Because if I had purchased trip insurance every cent minus the cost of the insurance would be refunded back to me! By sheer luck, I was able to find someone to go on the cruise and with my mother’s blessing and a $150 fine I was able to salvage my $800 investment and escape reality for 3 days.
Since then, I have learned the value of trip insurance. I have gone to Europe and lost my clothing due to airline carrier issues, but because of my baggage protection and baggage delay allowance, I did what most women love to do on vacation – SHOP! I was also compensated for every penny that I spent. In the end, the baggage delay of three days allowed me to purchase over $300 worth of clothing and relish the city I was visiting. Most recently, we purchased three tickets to make our yearly travel to Europe, except one of the individuals intended to travel suddenly had to make some serious life changes and that meant she could not travel with us. She had to make a move from Florida to Alabama and was more concerned about retrieving her monies back than spending anymore or continuing forward with the original vacation plans. Again, thanks to the foresight of purchasing trip insurance more than 75% of the funds were retrieved back and it took just a couple of calls, invoices, and patience of 2 weeks for a turnaround.
I swear by trip insurance. However, I will agree that some are better than others. In my personal experience the two that have been most willing to work with us and offer rates based on demographics, health, unique coverage factors, and exceptional service are AXA Assistance USA and Allianz. I prefer these brands because each of them have offered a multitude of choices based on my personal needs and not just a blanket coverage that may or may not include specific concerns or factors. These two insurance companies also have extremely competitive pricing unlike its counterparts.
When it is all said and done, my thought is whether one has planned this amazing trip months in advance or even just last-minute, one thing they all have in common is high expectations and hard-earned money that most don’t want to lose because of improper outlining for the unexpected. During my years as a travel agent, I have seen families who are separated because the US Coast Guard told them they didn’t have the necessary funds (up to $35,000) to be airlifted from a cruise ship; or a kid needing $600 in stitches from the infirmary because he was just walking along a gorgeous beach and didn’t see the glass buried under the sand that slashed his foot. It happens all the time, and all too often very few think about what happen on one’s vacation versus, just before the actual trip. These are just some examples why trip insurance is critical to your health, vacation funds, and peace of mind!
In summary, I don’t care if it is a quick trip from U.S. city to U.S. city via plane/rental car or an international voyage, every vacation mandates insurance so that one can find solace in knowing come what may, lack of preparation is the least of all concerns.