Group travel, whether it be for volunteer work, a family reunion, or study, is typically pre-paid well in advance and the number of people in the group largely determines the price each person pays. Therefore, this type of travel has it’s own set of risks – risks that are compounded by the higher number of people traveling in the group.
What are the risks of group travel?
Some of the unexpected things that can go wrong on a Group include the following:
- Your group has finished making their advance payments, then someone has to cancel – things happen all the time and trip cancellations are sometimes necessary, but when one person has to cancel, and the remaining people want to go, can you recover the costs for the one cancelling and keep everyone’s trip investment on track?
- Your group arrives at the tour location only to discover the debt-ridden business is no longer operating – when you prepay for a tour, guide services, and/or transportation, you usually save a lot of money – especially when you negotiate a group rate. If that travel supplier goes out of business or into bankruptcy, however, you’re out a lot of money and have nowhere to go.
- Your elderly mother is hit by a speeding bicycle messenger and breaks her hip – accidents can happen just about anywhere and your health insurance, even Medicare, doesn’t extend very far (certainly not outside the country). Will you have the funds necessary for proper medical care if someone in your group is injured or becomes ill?
- Your extended family is on a cruise when one of the kids becomes very ill – all cruise ships have some level of medical care on board, but severe illnesses and injuries have to be treated at a proper medical facility. Will you have enough money to pay for an evacuation at sea? Once this child is treated, will you be able to get him or her back to the ship or returned home?
- You land in Milan but discover that at least three of the group’s checked bags have gone somewhere else – it’s easy for bags to be mislabeled and routed to the wrong airport, but if that happens, will you have the essentials necessary to keep you comfortable until your bag can be located? What if you are traveling far from the airport and your bag has to be shipped to you?
- A week into your trip, a terrorist strikes the city and recommendations are issued to all travelers to return home – it’s sometimes necessary to abandon a trip for a number of reasons including terrorism, mandatory evacuations, and natural disasters, but can you afford to lose all the remaining pre-paid non refundable trip costs and will you have enough money to pay for the unexpected (and often high) travel costs to return home early?
- One portion of your group misses their connection due to mechanical delays and they miss the start of the tour – a missed connection isn’t as important as when you have to arrive at a particular time. If a portion of your group misses a connection, will they know how to make alternate arrangements to catch up to the group and have the funds to pay for the unexpected additional costs?
- You’ve joined the entire family on a week-long cruise and one of the kids decides to toss your bag overboard – when luggage is lost, stolen, or destroyed you don’t have the clothing and personal effects you were counting on during your trip. Will you have the funds necessary to replace your clothing, personal stuff, and your bag?
What coverage do you need as a group traveler?
While the following is not an exhaustive list of all the coverages available with travel insurance plans, it describes those that are most useful to group travelers.
- Trip cancellation coverage provides reimbursement for trip costs if you have to cancel for a covered reason (like illnesses, financial default, terrorism, hurricanes, and more). (Review the details of trip cancellation coverage.)
- Medical coverage provides aid locating local medical facilities and payment for emergency medical care when a person in your group is sick or injured on your trip. (Review the details of medical coverage.)
- Evacuation coverage provides the coordination and payment for evacuations to receive medical treatment elsewhere. (Review the details of evacuation coverage.)
- Baggage delay coverage provides funds to replace the essentials when your bag is missing and will arrive later. (Review the details of baggage delay coverage.)
- Trip interruption coverage provides additional funds for emergency travel and reimbursement for your unused trip costs if you have to abandon your trip for a covered reason. (Review the details of trip interruption coverage.)
- Missed connection coverage reimburses each traveler up to a certain amount when they miss an important connection and need alternative travel arrangements. (Review the details of missed connection coverage.)
- Baggage coverage provides a certain amount of money when your bag is irretrievably lost, stolen or destroyed. (Review the details of baggage coverage.)
Who should buy this type of travel insurance?
Travelers like these should purchase group travel insurance:
- Travelers on a tight tour schedule. If you have to meet certain scheduled departures, any delay or error can cause you to lose money. Be sure you have coverage for scheduling mishaps.
- Travelers on a cruise. Cruises are relatively expensive trips that are pre-paid far in advance. Be sure you have the cancellation coverage you need to recover your investment if you have to cancel.
- Travelers traveling with seniors or children. Seniors and children are far more likely to need medical attention and it’s important to have the right emergency medical and evacuation coverage to avoid those high expenses should someone be ill or get injured.
- Travelers traveling during hurricane season. Hurricanes disrupt travel on a global scale, delaying flights, closing airports, and more, so be sure you have the cancellation and interruption coverage you need to protect your travel investment from hurricanes.
- Travelers leaving for remote regions. Remote areas are typically devoid of medical facilities and if anyone in your group is injured or very ill, you’ll need the evacuation and medical coverage to get them treated.
When should you buy your travel insurance?
Purchase your policy just after making your first trip payment. In some situations, this timing is important because some benefits:
- pre-existing medical condition waivers,
- ‘cancel for any reason’, and
- ‘cancel for work reasons’
are only applicable if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days (usually 10-15) from making your initial trip deposit. Plus, you’ll benefit from the longest period of cancellation coverage.
Remember that all travel insurance companies offer a free look period with a refund if you decide the plan is not what you need.
Where should you buy your travel insurance?
We recommend purchasing your travel insurance directly from a third-party company for a number of reasons.
- Buying Travel Insurance from a 3rd party company vs. through a travel agent
- Why buying Travel Insurance from a 3rd party company is better than buying from a Cruise Line
- Buying Travel Insurance Directly from the Company vs. Using a Comparison Site
Very briefly, you’ll have more choices and options in your travel insurance plan if you purchase from a third-party company using a comparison tool.
How can you be sure your travel insurance coverage is adequate?
These tips will help you determine whether you have enough coverage.
- 4 Steps to 100% confidence in your travel insurance plan
- Entering $0 Trip Cost is too risky
- Is ‘Cancel for any reason’ worth it?
What are the best travel insurance plans for group travelers?
We’ve done the research into which plans are best and our recommendations include:
- The important coverages for group travel
- Our analysis of each plan
- Sample quotes