Italian cruise disaster reinforces need to consider travel insurance
Travelers normally remember to bring their passports, clothes, sunglasses and other vacation necessities. But many of them fail to pack something else that some experts say is just as important — travel insurance.
The Italian cruise disaster, which killed at least 11 people, serves as a somber reminder to look into travel insurance before you set sail or jet away.
Vikki Corliss, a spokeswoman for InsureMyTrip.com, says: “Understandably, no one wants to think about what could go wrong on their travels, but that’s exactly what you should do. Plan ahead and be prepared. Travel insurance is a traveler’s best defense against the unexpected.”
A standard travel insurance policy costs about 5 percent to 7 percent of the total price tag for a trip. So if you’ve booked a $4,000 cruise and paid $1,000 for air fare, you’ll fork over $250 to $350 for a travel insurance policy to cover the $5,000 investment. Most U.S. travel insurance plans cover travelers no matter where they are in the world — on the beach in Fiji or on a cruise ship off the coast of Italy.
“Travel insurance and assistance follows you wherever you may go,” says Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for travel insurance provider Access America.
What does a travel insurance policy cover? It depends on how much coverage you buy. Here are some of the basics that typically would be included in a comprehensive travel policy:
• Reimbursement for cancellation of your trip for a valid reason, such as a medical emergency.
• Reimbursement for lost or delayed luggage.
• Payment for lodging, meals and transportation during a travel delay.
• Replacement of passports and other missing travel documents.
• Delivery of messages to your loved ones and friends back home.
• Assistance with travel arrangements for your return trip home.
• Assistance with medical aid.
Of course, every travel insurance policy has coverage limits, so you may not want to splurge on a five-star hotel or lobster dinners before your claim is paid.
Carol Mueller, vice president of travel insurance provider Travel Guard North America, says: “Travel insurance covers you for the ‘what ifs?’ while traveling. While the tragic accident involving the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy is highly unlikely to occur again, it’s important that consumers understand travel insurance is really important for covering the more common travails that occur while traveling.”