BBB: Investigate travel insurance before the trip of a lifetime

05/31/2014 8:05 AM

05/31/2014 8:10 AM

Vacationers can have a lot of details to tend to, whether the trip is a short flight to a relative’s home or an epic trip of a lifetime. Among those details should be the consideration of whether travel insurance is necessary.

The Better Business Bureau advises travelers to consider three factors when deciding whether to buy travel insurance – the cost of the trip, medical concerns and your baggage situation.

Travel costs

What’s called trip cancellation/interruption insurance, or TCI, comes in handy if you have to cancel your trip, end it early or change the time of it. Obviously, higher priced trips are more likely to need such coverage. Be aware that TCI only pays if the reason for the change is on the insurer’s list of acceptable ones. Among them might be injury, sickness, a family death or that of a traveling companion or business partner. Here it is especially important to read the fine print, as some policies will not cover pre-existing conditions. Don’t forget to check with your credit card companies as some do provide travel protection.

Medical

Those using Medicare coverage should go to medicareinteractive.org to see a list of foreign travel situations that will be covered. Generally, however, Medicare does not offer coverage in foreign countries. Check with your specific insurer to see what they would cover in the country of your destination.

Travelers who are taking adventure vacations to areas far from modern medical facilities may want to be extra cautious about their insurance coverage and consider emergency medical evacuation insurance.

Offer some hypothetical situations to your insurance provider and see specifically what they will cover. At the very least you may want to carry with you a list of approved/affiliated medical facilities at the locations of your visit.

Baggage

Although airlines have been bragging about the reduced numbers of lost baggage, it’s worth noting that part of the reason those numbers have gone down is that more travelers now carry on their baggage instead of checking it.

You can take steps to make the hassle of dealing with an airline about a lost bag a little easier. When you pack your bags, make a list of everything you are carrying in each piece of luggage. Know the limits that airlines will reimburse for lost baggage: domestically it is $3,300 per passenger and overseas it is $1,750. Worth noting is that during the complicated process of claiming a lost bag, airlines request receipts for the items within the bag. Few people save such receipts and the resulting (and lengthy) back-and-forth process between you and the airline can induce many headaches. Airlines will not notify you of your rights. It is up to you to arm yourself with that knowledge.

Check your homeowner’s policy about items lost by airlines. If you are packing unusually expensive items you may want to buy additional travel insurance to cover them.

As with anything, wise consumers read the fine print when buying insurance for their trips. Remember that cheap trips may not be worth the extra cost of insurance. Look into how much time you have to buy the insurance – it may not be necessary until right before you travel. You should resist high-pressure sales techniques and whenever possible pay with credit cards.

Ultimately the issue of travel insurance may come down to peace of mind and what value you place on that.

Denise Groene is the state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Contact the bureau at 800-856-2417, or bbbinc.org.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service