Travel to Greece – Are the warning signs out there?

June 24th, 2015

Travel to Greece – Are the warning signs out there?

In the past several  days there have been several tour operators that have offered deep discounts, up to 50%, for trips to Greece.  At the same time representatives of Greece have been meeting with financial representatives of the EU to try to avoid a massive financial default on Greece’s staggering debt load and to avoid Greece exiting the Euro zone – or as it’s being referred to as “Grexit”.

Can this effect travel to Greece?  Yes, it might be a crystal ball foretelling impending doom.  Historically, deeply discounted tours might be indicative of a destination or tour that’s in financial trouble and discounts are a drastic way of trying to increase cash flow.

What does this mean for those travelers planning a trip to Greece?  It means they should take steps to protect their trip investment.  Here are some ways they can minimize risk:

 

  1. deal with only reputable tour companies or airlines.  See if they are a member of the USTOA and qualify for their tour protection bond.
  2. use plastic to pay for all pre-paid travel arrangements – Federal Credit regulations allow for credit disputes if services are not provided even if due to bankruptcy of the travel provide.
  3. consider travel insurance which includes “default” protection for the bankruptcy of their tour operator or airline.  Many travel insurance plans automatically include default protection as part of the standard trip cancellation/interruption coverage however, some of the plans make it a time sensitive benefit that is only available if the traveler buys coverage within 2 to 3 weeks following their first trip payment..  Some plans also may include a waiting period after the purchase of a policy before “default” coverage becomes effective.

Consumer advocates strongly recommend buying travel insurance through a third party rather than from a tour operator, cruise line, or airline – the reason being that most of their plans exclude coverage for their own default or bankruptcy.  When buying travel insurance it is always best to buy from a third party offers multiple plans and the ability to compare coverages before buying.  It’s the only way a consumer can find the best plan for their trip.

Something new for travel insurance – political evacuation.

May 13th, 2015

Recently, some companies have begun to add emergency evacuation coverage to their policies for non-medical reason.  Reasons that can include “political or social upheaval” and natural disasters.  For more information please visit our new travel buyers page.

It pays to compare travel insurance

March 31st, 2015

To say it pays to compare travel insurance may seem like a cliché, but in truth, tailoring your coverage to your specific needs–and potential needs–can save you a lot of hardship and money under worst case scenarios.

Commonly, travelers purchase the first insurance plan offered by their supplier, trusting they’re adequately covered to arrive safely and healthy, and if, per chance, they have to canceled their trip, they’re satisfied that their policy covers them for that as well. Chances are not good that the first plan offered is the best, nor is it cost effective in the long run.

The most common policy offered falls under the category of “Cancellation Protection” or “Cancellation Waiver.” These policies are frequently offered by tour operators, airlines and cruise lines and consist of both traditional insurance and non-traditional; the latter is comprised of self-insurance by the travel supplier. This, as one might understand, is generally discouraged by most consumer advocates, primarily because the traveler may suffer a double loss if their travel supplier goes under; loss of the trip and loss of the coverage.

Most important is the knowledge that these “one size fits all” policies are grossly inadequate for those covered by Medicare of Medicaid who travel out of the country. In the event of an illness or catastrophic circumstance, the $10,000-$25,000 of medical coverage provided to the traveler may prove to be far too little, costing the traveler a great deal more out-of-pocket expense.

What’s the solution? Compare the policies offered–which can range from economy, standard and deluxe–by comparing both your immediate needs as well as your potential needs. It’s important to realize that even with traditional travel insurance, coverage may vary from both company-to-company, but also within the same company, and prices can vary by more than 300% for the same trip.

Needless to say, it’s crucial that travelers shop around before deciding on coverage. Equally important is for the traveler to consider the limits of their health, home and/or auto insurance, as well as how much is available via credit cards. If the results are less than satisfactory for the trip on which one is about to embark, the solution is to find the best travel insurance plan that fills the gaps, in terms of coverage.

The short answer is that the traveler’s coverage should not begin and end with trip cancellation coverage alone. Assuring that one has adequate medical coverage is equally as important. Once you have this information, the final step is to concentrate on selecting the right plan—that fits your needs–at the best price. Not knowing your risk and settling for the first plan offered, regardless of what may appear as an immediate saving, might actually cost the traveler more in the end.

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.