70 years ago today!

February 23rd, 2015

70 years ago today, February 23, 1945, one of the most iconic photographs of WWII was taken of 5 Marines and one Corpsman raising the US flag on Mt. Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima.  The battle was one of the most costly in the history of the Marine Corp – a battle where almost 4 out of 10 Americans were killed or wounded.

To the Marines and their Naval Corpsmen who fought the battle and to all Marines  past, present, and future – Semper Fi!

Travel Insurance forecasts for 2015; the four most likely issues facing travelers

February 10th, 2015

While crystal balls are always subject to change, my speculation as to the four most likely issues facing travelers in 2015 are based on 46 years of travel insurance experience. Some of the conditions listed below have held forefront positions for eons and probably always will, but QuoteWright can help take the mystery out of travel insurance with its new QuoteWright ratings system, based on a value of 0 to 100.

We assign values based on how a specific coverage compares with similar coverage among the different plans we offer.  So if you’re trying to decide which travel insurance plan has the best coverage for “weather conditions” or “pre-existing medical conditions,” let our 2015 Buyers Guide help lead the way.

Issue number one: Despite the start of a new year, pre-existing medical conditions—an issue with many years of history—will again quite likely be the number one travel insurance issue for 2015. It’s an old chestnut, to be sure, but one that has consistently been the number one “gotcha” within the travel insurance industry. And unfortunately, if travelers don’t ask the right questions of their travel insurance agent before purchasing a plan, they’re frequently faced with surprises after the fact.

There is good news, however, in that most travel insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions—if you qualify. The way it works is if a plan offers a “waiver of pre-existing conditions,” the traveler must meet three conditions in order to be eligible:

  • Coverage must be purchased within 10-30 days following your first trip payment.
  • The traveler must be physically able to travel on the day they purchase insurance.
  • Travelers must insure their trip cost to value.

Issue number two: Unfortunately, among the top issues facing travelers in this day and age is that of terrorism. It’s a sign of the times and as such, it will play an important role in 2015, and possibly beyond, as has been witnessed by the recent heinous act of terror in Paris, one of the world’s greatest cities. With groups like Al Qaeda posting instructions on how to make a bomb designed for airline targets—whether real or merely designed to create economic chaos—it’s a wise policy to purchase travel insurance that covers cancellations or interruptions caused by a terrorist event.

Issue number three: Abnormal weather conditions causing delays and/or cancellations are always a distinct possibility. Not all travel insurance plans cover cancellations, interruptions, or delays caused by weather in the same way. If the threat of bad weather might create havoc during your trip, it’s a good idea to compare travel insurance plans carefully in order to fit your travel plans.

Issue number four: Widespread diseases, such as Ebola, have always presented a challenge for the travel insurance industry, and 2015 is not an exception. There is no doubt that insurance companies will continue to restrict coverage for epidemics, either by adding exclusions to their plans or by refusing to insure travelers going to countries where there is an ongoing epidemic.

If you plan to travel in 2015, consider the top four issues that may determine exactly which and how much insurance coverage is appropriate for your travel.

What is a pre-existing condition?

February 7th, 2015

Pre-existing Medical ConditionsOur most frequently asked question is:  What is a pre-existing condition?  Here is a short audio file that I put together to help you understand this important issue.  The text file is listed below.

Hi, this is John Cook, President of QuoteWright.com and today I would like to talk about the most frequently asked travel insurance question: “What is considered a pre-existing medical condition.”

It’s a common question because all travel insurance policies contain an exclusion for pre-existing medical conditions and, as required by law, travel insurance policies must define exactly what they consider is a pre-existing condition. Since medical reasons are the number one cause of trip cancellations and statistically, almost 30% of all claims maybe due to a pre-existing condition this becomes an important issue.

In general, a pre-existing condition is considered to be any medical condition where you or a family member has received care or treatment or have had symptoms that would cause an average person to seek care and treatment within a period of time immediately prior to the effective date of coverage. The effective date of coverage for plans with trip cancellation coverage is usually the day after the policy was purchased. The period of time that a company looks back varies by plan and can be as few as 60 days and as great as 180 days, with 180 days being the most common.

Most plans have an exception to the exclusion for controlled conditions that are being treated with a prescribed drug, as long as the prescription and the underlying condition remain totally unchanged during the look back period. If, both the condition and medication have remained totally unchanged during the look back period than that would be exempt from the exclusion.

One thing that is often misunderstood when it comes to the pre-existing exclusion is whether or not it applies to non-traveling family members. Plans are split on this with some plans only applying the exclusion to traveling family members and the others applying it to all members whether traveling or not.

One way to eliminate the complexities of this exclusion is to buy a plan that offers a waiver of pre-existing medical conditions which will prohibit the insurance company from denying a claim using the pre-existing exclusion. Many plans offer a “waiver” as an inducement to try to get you to buy the insurance early in your trip planning but that is a subject for another article.

At QuoteWright we believe that the most powerful consumer is one who is informed.

Flight Insurance – is it worth it?

February 4th, 2015

In the wake of the recent TransAsia plane crash in Taiwan the question comes to mind of whether or not “flight accidental death coverage” is worthwhile?

Statistically, flying on a commercial airline is one of the safest forms of travel.  It’s been reported that the odds of being killed in a plane accident is 1 in 11,000,000.

How does that relate to buying “flight accidental death” insurance?  Most insurance professionals will tell you that you shouldn’t buy “flight accident” coverage but instead you should have adequate life insurance that will cover you 24/7.

There is some confusion concerning whether flight insurance is “life insurance” and you can see why by viewing a prior article that I wrote a couple of years ago:  Flight Insurance – what is it?.

Unlike many recommendations made by insurance professionals that don’t understand travel insurance I have to agree with this one – life insurance is the better option.

The economics of “flight accidental death insurance”  are also a good indication of value.   You can buy a flight accidental death policy that provides $100,000 of principal sum coverage for $14 which might seem reasonable however, back in the day, when I worked for a large insurance company, the net rate for $100,000 of flight insurance was just less than $ .10 – with a payout rate that low it’s not worthwhile.

However there will always be travelers who feel more secure by buying flight accident insurance.  I remember an executive at that large insurance company that would visit me every time he had to fly on business.  I once asked him why he bought the flight insurance before every trip when he knew the statistics as well as I did.  His answer was more emotional than logical because he told me that he felt safer buying the insurance.

Just goes to show you that buying insurance is a personal choice.

Weatherproofing your trip is easy

January 26th, 2015

 “Understanding how travel insurance responds to adverse weather and natural disasters, such as blizzards, can be a daunting task,” said QuoteWright President, John Cook. “Because policies differ on the type and amount of coverage that they offer, it can be confusing to the traveler when adverse weather impacts their plans.”

Cook cited horror stories that arise each year, depicting travelers stuck in airports when extreme weather conditions cause flights to be canceled. He said his firm receives a huge volume of calls from travelers, asking which plan is best when faced with the potential of bad weather.

“Winter snow storms cause flight delays and cancellations.  With the impending blizzard about to hit the Northeast, over 2,000 flights have already been cancelled or delayed.  Travelers are asking which coverage is best for them and to assist them QuoteWright has developed a simple-to-understand coverage chart showing how major travel insurance companies handle adverse weather conditions,” said Cook, adding “Not all plans handle weather conditions in the same way, so we’ve come up with an easy and effective way to find a plan that comes closest to providing coverage for a traveler’s needs.”

Travelers who are concerned about weather affecting their vacations may review our weather coverage chart  or our new 2015 Buyers Guide.

Cook said that “by comparing plans and finding that which best fits the traveler’s needs, travelers can protect their trip investment.” He said an additional value-added benefit is for the traveler to purchase their flight insurance early, before storms are forecast or named.

“This practice provides the traveler with the greatest value for their money by helping to ensure that the risk is unforeseeable,” said Cook. “This is a standard policy provision.”