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Many Changes to Trip Insurance Since 9/11

ALFRED BORCOVER
Published September 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune

Since 9/11, travelers have become a lot more savvy about buying travel insurance to protect their vacation investments, giving themselves some peace of mind in today’s uncertain world. And third-party travel insurance companies have become a lot smarter, tweaking their coverage to reflect what happened to travel post-9/11.

The changes added by insurance companies focus mainly on defining acts of terrorism. Prior to 9/11, terrorism coverage included only incidents overseas. Now it includes terrorism on U.S. soil.

What this means is that if there’s a terrorist incident in a city that’s on your itinerary, and you’re scheduled to be there any time within 30 days of your travel dates, you can cancel your trip without any loss of money.

Typically, travel insurance adds 5 to 10 percent to the cost of a trip.

“It’s a wise investment, especially for the more expensive trips,” said Christina Hopper.

“You buy the protection knowing you’ll be able to cancel if you need to, and to protect your expenditure, maybe the largest expense for a family in a year,” she said.

Hopper also stressed that policies cover baggage loss, travel delays such as those caused by the recent East Coast power outage, as well as medical and medical evacuation coverage.

As a consumer, you need to know what travel insurance covers. Most deal with trip cancellation, trip interruption or delays, medical, dental, emergency medical transportation, lost luggage, accidental death, financial default of airlines, cruise lines and tour operators and, of course, terrorist incident coverage. And, if you buy travel insurance within 10 to 14 days of making your initial trip deposit, it can extend coverage for losses due to pre-existing medical conditions. While travel insurance can sound cut and dried, it’s not. It always pays to ask questions about the things you don’t understand and to know what your personal insurance covers.

Consumers can comparison shop travel insurance vendors on such Internet sites as www.TripInsuranceStore.com. “What these sites do is allow you to put in all your trip parameters, and then it will show you who gives you the closest to the coverage you are asking for and what the pricing would be for your particular trip,” explained Claudia Fullerton, CSA’s chief operating officer.

Third-party insurance is a wise option. If you purchase a cruise line’s or tour operator’s own insurance and the company goes belly-up, you’re stuck. Paying for your trip with a credit card also is smart. If you’ve charged your trip to a credit card and the company defaults, you can recoup your money through the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, which permits you to dispute the charge. Avoid purchasing cancellation waivers if they are offered by cruise lines or tour operators. Cancellation waivers are not regulated by state departments of insurance and may not protect you.

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune


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