Today we are going to take a bit of a turn from my usual writings about fun and exciting things in the world of travel to something more serious. I would like to take some time to talk with you about the importance of vacation insurance, also known as travel protection.
Usually, a vacation package consists of at least two components. These could be a hotel and park tickets, or flights, hotel, rental car and excursions. Travel protection plans are a line item that can be added on to your vacation package for an additional fee. Sometimes the insurance plan is offered through a supplier (like Walt Disney Travel Company) and other times insurance can be purchased separately through a third party.
I have found in my years as a travel professional that, sadly, most vacationers give very little, if any, thought to travel protection plans. However, I would like you to reconsider the importance of protecting your vacation investment. I am bringing this topic to light because my family recently had an incident that benefited from vacation insurance. When issues hit close to home is when people speak up!
We began our last Disney Cruise vacation aboard Disney Magic with perfect weather, time in the pool and a fun sail away party. We enjoyed a delightful dinner at Animator’s Palate and got to know our servers with fun games and riddles. Toward the end of the meal, my daughter got a funny look on her face and started having a horrible allergic reaction to something she had eaten. She had hives, itching and swelling. She hadn’t dealt with food allergies before, so this was all very new to us.
I immediately took her back to our stateroom to give her an over-the-counter antihistamine. While waiting for this medicine to take effect, my daughter’s symptoms grew increasingly worse. She had facial paralysis, wheezing and she was starting to pass out. Watching your child go through something like while sailing in the middle of the ocean is absolutely terrifying, but I was able to keep my composure and call the ship’s medical center. We were able to get my daughter to the ship’s emergency room where the physician gave her several IV medications to counteract the anaphylactic reaction she was experiencing. After a couple of hours in the ER, we were released to our stateroom with instructions and additional medication in case she had another reaction during our cruise.
I can honestly say how grateful I am for the excellent care and services the ship’s medical team provided my daughter. They were attentive and supportive, while thoroughly explaining every detail of my daughter’s care. As a follow up, my daughter has had multiple reoccurring reactions and we still do not have solid answers for what is causing her symptoms.
I can also say how grateful I am for the travel protection plan that we purchased for our trip. This insurance has saved me hundreds of dollars in unexpected bills.
How does travel protection work? What is travel protection for?
The information below is referring to general terms and typical insurance policies. It is up to each family, as the purchaser of the insurance, to fully read and understand the terms and conditions specific to the plan you invest in.
Typically, insurance plans are purchased and added to a vacation package before making final payment. Some carriers require insurance to be added on within 7-days of placing deposit on your vacation package in order to include pre-existing conditions. Other plans may allow you to make your insurance purchase a few days before your vacation actually begins. Again, you as the consumer need to understand the purchase date requirements.
An important facet of vacation protection plans to understand is that the plans are usually a reimbursement. This means that if an unexpected problem were to take place during your vacation, you would be responsible for fronting the money to cover the cost of the resolution. Once you return home, you will file a claim with the insurance provider and based on the provider’s conclusion, you will then be reimbursed for your expenses.
For example, when my daughter had to visit the ship’s emergency room, I had to pay the hundreds of dollars up front to cover the cost of her treatment. Once we got home, I submitted a claim to my regular health insurance. They covered very little of the expenses (because we were out of the country and out of network). I then submitted the Explanation of Benefits with the claim to the vacation insurance supplier. Between the 2 insurance plans (my own private health insurance and the vacation insurance), within 3 weeks of returning home, we were fully reimbursed for the cost of my daughter’s emergency room visit.
Another example is the story of a couple cruising out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airline they flew into San Juan lost their luggage for several days. Eventually the bags were located and reconnected with their owners at one of the ship’s ports of call. This meant that Mr. and Mrs. Cruiser were without clothes, shoes, toiletries and more for the first few days of their cruise. They were able to make some purchases in the shops near their hotel before boarding the ship, but they did have to make these purchases using their own cash and credit cards. Once they arrived home, Mr. and Mrs. Cruiser were able to file a claim and were reimbursed their unexpected expenses.
The lesson in both of these instances is to be sure you have room on your credit card or in your bank account in order to cover any unexpected expenses.
As the owner of a travel protection policy, you need to understand what emergencies are covered. Some reasons that may prevent you from traveling, or interrupting your plans that may be covered under your plan are:
** death in the family
** laid off from your job or loss of employment
** weather (hurricanes, volcanoes)
** mandatory evacuation
** carrier strike
** baggage loss and delays
** terrorist activity
As a traveler, it is also good to review your own personal health coverage. Whether you purchase a supplemental plan or not, it is important to know what your private health plan will cover while you are “out of network” and the procedures to follow should you need medical assistance.
If you have done all of your research on travel protection plans and decide to decline the coverage, please know that suppliers like theme parks, cruise lines and resorts, are under no obligation to make alternate accommodations or reimbursements for your travel plans. Suppliers obviously have their guests’ safety as a number one priority and will do everything in their power to keep you safe. This may mean that they will cancel a scheduled cruise port of call or reroute your cruise ship. A theme park may close attractions and shows, or possibly the park itself. A resort may require guests to hunker down in their rooms. However, your vacation money will not be reimbursed due to Mother Nature.
On a final note, most families spend many months planning and saving for their vacation. You purchase insurance for your $3000 or $5000 car, why wouldn’t you protect your vacation investment as well? Why wouldn’t you travel with peace of mind, knowing that you have a back-up should something go sideways?
Whether you choose to insure or not, please be an informed traveler!
I would love to assist you with your next vacation. Please contact me today to start the planning process with a complimentary consultation.
Concierge Agent with Wishes Family Travel, Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agency
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