“What to know before you go” took on new meaning post September 11, 2001. Both domestic and international travel has drastically changed. It is imperative travelers understand their rights and responsibilities should their travel plans be disrupted.
Flight bumps or delays, medical and legal emergencies, I.D. and money theft, baggage problems, weather issues, and terrorism all constitute risk to the traveler. The more time spent traveling, the greater the risk. Travel insurance may circumvent some of that risk.
Education is the key, whether the traveler is an individual, part of a group, or a student; and whether travel is domestic or international. Make sure to research as much as possible before setting foot outside the door of an airport, train or bus station. Know what each traveler’s travel insurance policy covers and what it does not for the particular type of travel: business, vacation, family trips, or cruises. There may be supplementary coverage issued by the cruise line, amusement park, or groups such as AAA.
If travel is frequent, consider an insurance package plan. Many plans offer annual coverage, basic or abroad major medical insurance coverage or a package for a single trip around the world.
Cruises ship vacations are a prime example of “what to know before you go.” Everything from three day cruises to cruises around the world invite travel risk as most cruises parlay into international waters and into regions where the traveler may be unfamiliar with local custom and local laws.
World cruises pose several risks, personal to logistical. Travelers may be on a ship over 100 days, stopping at ports of call that may be regular tourist venues or remote layovers in countries on the State Department’s travel warning lists.
Wading through what kind of travel insurance is needed can be daunting. Most cruises start with a flight to the initial boarding destination and back again. The National Transportation Safety Board‘s preliminary 2008 U.S. general aviation accident statistics depict over seven accidents per 100,000 flight hours with over one fatality. That translates to over 1500 U.S. general aviation accidents and 275 U.S. general aviation fatal accidents in 2008. Check the fine print of the ticket purchased and credit card used to purchase the ticket. Additional flight accident insurance may be prudent.
There may be a bus to take the traveler to the cruise line or a car may have to be rented. Optional car rental insurance added to the policy that may or may not be attached to travel tickets or credit cards may evade problem should there be an accident on the way to the cruise line.
Shore excursions, unless purchased through the ship’s bursar, may result in trips into inner city areas for that “local flavor” of culture and food that many travelers crave. Research the local laws and culture before venturing into the unknown. There may be gang activity or drug activity in the area. If troubles arise and injury or death results, accidental death and dismemberment insurance and medical evacuation insurance provide additional coverage and piece of mind inexpensively.
Most travel insurance reimburses the traveler after the fact. If medical care is needed, make certain that enough cash is on hand to pay for services.