Rudy Maxa’s World with John Cook from QuoteWright

May 23rd, 2016

This Saturday I was a guest on Rudy Maxa’s World where I answered questions about travel insurance and TSA delays. You can listen to my segment

or you can visit Rudy Maxa’s World site at: http://rudymaxa.com/podcasts/2016-2/ . If you haven’t seen Rudy on PBS TV or listen to him on radio that I strongly recommend making it a habit.

TSA delays – does travel insurance cover you?

May 18th, 2016

We’ve all seen the headlines:

  • TSA Hell:  passengers in Chicago miss flights due to lines
  • TSA Turmoil
  • Long TSA lines strands 450 fliers overnight

At QuoteWright.com, one of the most popular questions that travelers are currently asking is “What coverage do I have if I’m delayed by long TSA lines and my flight leaves without me?”

The bottom line is that travel insurance probably doesn’t cover a delay or missed flight due to long TSA lines.  Why?  Because coverage designed to insure your trip, such as trip cancellation/interruption, travel delays and missed connections, is named “peril coverage,” and long lines are not considered perilous.

“Named peril” is an insurance term that translates to the insurance company only covering those specific reasons listed in the policy for that coverage. Most plans will cover delays or missed connections due to “inclement weather,” causing common carrier delays, or, in some plans, “mechanical breakdown or strike.” However, none of the plans covers delays or missed connections due to TSA delays.

At QuoteWright.com we believe that an informed traveler is an empowered consumer. It is essential the traveler be told of not only what is covered by his/her policy, but essentially what is not covered as well.

Traveling with others?   Hidden hazards that you have to think about.

March 3rd, 2016

Here at QuoteWright, we talk to a lot of clients who are traveling with others .  Usually they are family members who might live in different parts of the country or to non-related companions.

You know what events you want to be covered for, but what about the rest of your traveling companions?  What events are they concerned with?  Would you travel without them if they had to cancel?  Would they travel without you if you had to cancel?

Many plans allow you to cancel or interrupt your trip due to a covered reason stated on the policy that affects either you or your traveling companion or family members of either.  A traveling companion is usually defined as someone whom you’ve made travel arrangements and intend to travel with.  Remember though, the same exclusions that apply to you may also apply (for example, pre-existing medical conditions), to your traveling companions as well and maybe to their family members..

If either of the traveling parties would still travel without the other, then just pick the plan that best suits you.  However, if travel is dependent on each other, than talk to your traveling companions and discuss your concerns.   From there, you can move forward in choosing a plan that is best for you.

We’ve also found it to be good practice for all travelers to get the same policy.  While you can get different plans that cover the same things, the circumstances that trigger those benefits might not be handled the same and you run into the complexity of dealing with multiple insurance companies.  We usually advice client’s to “keep it simple” and buy plans from one company.

Dear Santa please improve travel insurance

December 22nd, 2015

The holidays are nearly here and as my grandchildren make their lists for Santa, it got me thinking of a wish list of my own for travel insurance.   Here it is:

It’s no mystery that travel policies have limitations and exclusions.  A good policy is one that covers a lot of ground.  While there are several really good plans out there, it would be nice if insurance companies would changed a few things to make them even better, the following is a small list of things I’d love to see changed.

  • Not having to insure for the full non-refundable trip cost to qualify for the preexisting medical conditions waiver.  As you might know, there are usually a few qualifications that you must meet to get the preexisting waiver with those plans that offer it.  One requirement is to insure to value – insuring for the full pre-paid nonrefundable cost of your trip.  In the past, some plans that didn’t require it but that is no longer the case.
  • Anchor the preexisting medical conditions period to the date of last treatment/symptom, not the purchase date.  All plans have a preexisting medical conditions period that looks back into someone’s medical history prior to the date of purchase.  This look back period can range from 60 to 180 days and maybe waived if the plan has a “waiver” and if you qualify.  However, if for some reason the pre-existing conditions exclusion applies, then we’re in favor of anchoring the preexisting conditions period to the date of last treatment/symptoms and going forward with the specified time period rather than the current practice of using the departure date as the anchor and going backwards from that date.
  • Make baggage coverage primary.  Off the top of my head there is one company that has the option to make baggage coverage primary and there is one company whose standard practice is to provide primary coverage, however, that’s about it.  The rest are secondary.  With secondary, you’d first have to submit the claim to your home owner’s or renter’s insurance first which might cause those premiums to go up, but that’s another story.

Who knows maybe we’ll find those changes under the tree but I doubt it.

Five things every traveler should know about travel insurance!

November 30th, 2015

Travel insurance is more than a luxury; it’s a necessity if one’s trip is to be successful.  However, travel insurance is not a cookie-cutter arrangement where one size fits all.   Here are 5 things that you should know before buying coverage:

  1. Know what you need! Travel insurance is designed to replace financial losses.  What financial losses are you most concerned about?  Do you homework by doing an audit of your current coverages and focus on the large, possible losses – these are the losses that you can’t afford.
  2. Will your medical coverage protect you while you’re on your trip and out of network? Many group and private plans will modify coverage because you’re traveling out of network.  As a general rule Medicare does not provide coverage outside the USA.
  3. Will your homeowners coverage protect your personal processions while you’re traveling? Most homeowner plans will provide coverage off premise the same as on premise.  Check with your insurance company.
  4. Will your credit card provide travel coverage for your trip? Some credit cards provide travel coverage if you use your card to charge your trip.  Check with your credit card company for the limits and the fine print.
  5. Many travel insurance plans offer enhanced benefits if you buy early. The most important of these enhanced benefits is a “pre-existing conditions waiver”.   The “waiver” is not available on all plans and where it is available it is usually free but it does have fine print which can include having to buy the insurance within a specific time following your deposit or first trip payment, being physically able to travel on the day the coverage is purchased, and insuring for value.  Pre-existing medical conditions is the single largest cause of complaints involving travel insurance.  Getting the “wavier” goes a long way in being a satisfied customer.
  6. Trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, and missed connection coverages are “named peril”.  That means that only those perils or covered reasons named in the policy can trigger the benefits.   Don’t assume that any and all valid reasons for cancelling, interrupting, or delaying your trip will be covered.  Your concept of valid might be totally different than the insurance company’s.
  7. Cancel for any reason coverage is available but do you need it?  “Cancel for any reason coverage” is a safety net that can be added to some policies by increasing premium by up to 50% to cover travelers for cancellations that wouldn’t be otherwise covered by the basic trip cancellation coverage.  Most travelers don’t need “cancel for any reason” coverage however, if you need coverage for a specific reason that won’t be covered by basic trip cancellation than you need this coverage.  “Cancel for any reason coverage” is a time sensitive benefit that is only available if you purchase your coverage within the required time period. Plans also require that you insure to value.  Underinsuring will invalidate this coverage.   Plans will either include this coverage or it may be added as an option.
  8. Secondary versus Primary coverages.  The vast majority of travel or cruise insurance is “secondary” coverage.  A common misconception is that secondary travel insurance plans require that you already have primary medical coverage in place in order to purchase coverage.  In reality it just means that if you have other insurance that covers the same loss than that company becomes primary (first payers) and the travel insurance company becomes secondary.  If you don’t have other coverage than the travel insurance company becomes primary.

Bottom line is to become an informed consumer.  Know your needs before you buy and research coverage first.  Don’t buy before comparing plans.   Plans and prices vary.  A 60 year old traveling on a $3,000 cruise can find plans that vary in price from $100 to $350.   Without comparing you might end up with the $350 plan when the $100 will cover your concerns.