Tips & Trips Podcast Episode 11: Why Buy Travel Insurance?

Last updated on 12/03/2019

Why Buy Travel Insurance? With InsureMyTrip "Tips & Trips"

In this episode of "Tips & Trips" InsureMyTrip Anytime Advocate Gail gives travelers advice on how to best protect their trip this winter.

JULIE: You're listening to "Tips and Trips" by InsureMyTrip. Thanks for tuning in. Julie Loffredi here with a special guest: Gail from InsureMyTrip who is pretty much the expert on all things travel insurance.

GAIL: Thank You, Julie.

JULIE: I'm so happy you're here because when it comes to travel insurance if you're buying for the first time it can just be overwhelming. going online and looking for a plan. Obviously, InsureMyTrip makes it super easy with those recommendations but when someone says "hey Gail should I buy travel insurance for my trip" what do you say?

GAIL: Well first of all, if they've come to me they've done that that's the first step they've come to the right place because they're talking to a licensed travel insurance agent and I think for those that are considering travel insurance for the first time that's what you want to do you don't want to try and handle it on your own going through the website it can be very overwhelming with the number of companies that there are. Also, there are certain considerations and factors that you have to take into consideration. not all travel insurance is the same. Not all travel insurance covers everything that can possibly happen. So you want to be able to talk to someone who can explain the ins and outs of travel insurance - how it works, what is covered, what is not covered find out what your specific concerns are for your trip, guide you in the right direction as far as purchasing a policy.

JULIE: Now, when InsureMyTrip did a recent survey of all the agents there, there were really three big reasons that came back as to why people were looking for insurance in the first place. Trip cancellation coverage so if they had to cancel their trip they wanted to see if they would get their money back if it was a covered reason in the policy. Emergency medical coverage, especially for seniors heading abroad where Medicare certainly doesn't work outside the US and so that's a big one. And then third for emergency medical evacuation. Just having that reassurance that insurance is available in case anything were to go wrong. And then, of course, there are those inconveniences like being stuck at the airport and that type of thing. So when going to the site, when talking to an agent, what should I keep in mind when I'm looking for the best plan for me, and my trip?

GAIL: All right, when you're speaking with an agent - and generally the agents will prompt you for what your concerns may be for your trip - what are you looking for, what do you want the travel insurance to do for you, and they can guide you in that way. If you're concerned about illnesses or injuries, someone gets sick and you have to cancel, they can explain that to you and how that would work. Number one reason on all policies: unforeseen illness, injury, or death of you, a travel companion, or a family member. But there are some caveats too to that so it's really important to speak with an agent, especially if there are extenuating circumstances that you may or may not be aware of as far as illnesses are concerned within a family and looking to purchase travel insurance for that specific reason.

JULIE: And are there you know a few things when comparing travel insurance that over and over and over again you see travelers get kind of tripped up on and really need some hand-holding to figure it out?

GAIL: Pre-existing medical conditions. That's a biggie. They figure that if they have the waiver for pre-existing medical conditions that it's automatically going to be a covered event if they have to cancel their trip for that particular condition. Like any other insurance if something is a known situation and is going on at the moment there will be no coverage for that particular incidence because again it is known. You can kind of compare it to your home being flooded or catching fire. I mean after those things happen you wouldn't call a travel insurance company and say okay I need a homeowner's policy. Or you get in a car accident and you say all right I need an automobile insurance policy. Those things are done. So they're known will not have coverage. It's for unknown unforeseen reasons. So pre-existing conditions can be a sticky point and a licensed insurance agent can really explain how you would be covered with a waiver for pre-existing conditions and what does qualify for that.

JULIE: Okay so if that's really an area that you're concerned about just get some extra help there.

GAIL: Definitely.

JULIE: Sound like the way to go. We're heading into winter travel season - holidays, long lines of TSA, overpriced airline tickets -

GAIL: For sure.

JULIE: What types of issues will travelers typically expect and how may travel insurance kick in?

GAIL: Okay generally, again, due to winter storms, things of that nature, that people are concerned about traveling in the wintertime you're going to run into flights being canceled due to those storms or travel delays due to weather. Again, that's probably the second covered reason in most policies for being able to reap a benefit from that travel insurance.

JULIE: So if you have a policy and you look in the description of all these great benefits if you see the term weather under the maybe travel delay or travel cancellation or something, that would likely mean that if there is a bad storm and your trip was affected you would likely have coverage?

GAIL: You would potentially have coverage depending on how your specific policy read, the language in that policy. and again, most people don't like to read insurance policies but it's important and I will always tell a customer that if you do nothing else read the covered reasons for cancellation, read the definitions, and the exclusions on the policy because every policy has exclusions.

JULIE: And exclusions basically mean if you file a claim, whatever the scenario was, if it was under that exclusion paragraph - what happens?

GAIL: There is no coverage.

JULIE: Got it.

GAIL: So that's why it is important for you to at least go over and then if you have any questions most certainly give us a call and we'll be glad to go over any of that with you.

JULIE: Now Gail you have a special role at InsureMyTrip and you have headed up for many many years the Anytime Advocates program. I know it's won a lot of awards, it certainly helped hundreds or thousands of travelers with claims. Tell us what is the Anytime Advocates program and how can it help?

GAIL: The Anytime Advocates program is available to clients who purchase travel insurance through InsureMyTrip and have filed a claim with an insurance company and either they don't understand what is happening, the process, or the claim has been with that company for a while and they haven't heard anything, or they feel their claim was denied unfairly. The advocates will come in as a liaison between the insured and the insurance company to try and resolve this situation for them in a timely manner or to explain to them the reason for the denial if that were the case, why certain things were not covered.

JULIE: And obviously your work has made a big impact and a lot of it is helping to communicate between the traveler and the travel insurance company especially for first-timers that have maybe filed a claim but are unsure of the process maybe missed some paperwork perhaps. Are those common issues?

GAIL: Those are common issues and again we can kind of talk them through. Since we're not an insurance company we can't process claims and we can't predetermine if something will be covered or not. That's going to depend on the completed claim forms that they submit and the documentation that's required in order to review that claim. Taking into consideration that claims, these claims analysts are constantly processing these claims there are going to be oversights, there are going to be things that get missed, or paperwork that gets lost. We can go in and make sure that the insurance company has all that information. If they don’t, we can get that from the insured so that we can process it, send it on to the insurance company for processing, and in a lot of cases we've recouped a lot of money.

JULIE: If I hear correctly it's around $1.5 million Gail so that adds up.

GAIL: It does it does.

JULIE: It must be a nice feeling too for you Gail.

GAIL: It is, it's a great feeling when I know that the customers are happy and we've been able to do this for them and again it's not that insurance companies don't want to pay and I know they have that stigma that oh it's just insurance and they don't want to pay me so it's not the truth. They will pay you and we've gotten a lot of money from a lot of the insurance companies.

JULIE: Right.

GAIL: However it has to be based on the process and the policy language and the documentation that is submitted so we're there to help the insured understand the process and to be sure that they have the proper documentation.

JULIE: What are the typical documents that get missed or really need to get while you're at your destination?

GAIL: The biggest one probably that most people miss is an attending physician’s statement. If travelers become ill while they're on their trip it’s important to seek medical attention from the nearest medical facility that is there. If they're not aware of any doctors or facilities in the area that they're traveling in there's a 24/7 emergency number on all insurance policies where they can call the company and ask them, say “where can I go to seek treatment? I fell, I became ill, whatever the situation happens to be” and they'll be able to advise you where to go. In order to have that claim paid you do need to have a statement from a physician stating what happened to you while you were traveling and what he recommends.

JULIE: And these physicians I suppose in you know popular touristy areas I assume are used to getting those requests - hey you know I have to submit something to my travel insurance company and you know just a simple statement is valuable when putting that claim together.

GAIL: Exactly because I mean we're not with you while you're on your trip so we don't know what's happening, the insurance company doesn't know what's happening, only you can provide the documentation to let them know that this actually did happen in order to reap a benefit again from that particular coverage that you may be seeking.

JULIE: And if you forget to do that - you know, say you go into the local hospital in Europe, have a bad stomach flu, you're fine, head home, you forget to get that statement but then you file a claim?

GAIL: Well generally I mean even if you don't have that statement you would…travel insurance is a reimbursable product, so if you're going to go see a physician while you're traveling you're going to pay for that out of pocket and then you going to get the documentation from the physician showing a diagnosis, what you were treated for, what his recommendation was, and obviously a bill that you paid. So you'll have that documentation with you. Hopefully you just won't run out of the hospital without anything at all.

JULIE: Yeah.

GAIL: And then if you need to seek further documentation a lot of times those forms can be either through the insured or sometimes even the insurance company will actually contact the provider and get that information from them.

JULIE: Got it. Well, that's a good tip right there. Anything else Gail you'd like to share for folks especially again those first-timers? They know they should get travel insurance but still a little unsure.

GAIL: All right so the first thing that you want to do is as soon as you've put money down on a trip, the first time you put a deposit, whether it be refundable or non-refundable, you want to call InsureMyTrip, speak with a licensed travel insurance agent, and find out what your options are. There are a lot of time-sensitive benefits on these plans and you're going to have coverage for cancellation from the time you purchase that policy until your departure date at which time all other benefits would kick in on your departure date. Pre-existing conditions, cancel for any reason, you need to purchase policies within 10 to 21 days of making the first deposit on your trip. So that is important to know. Since a lot of things are not covered you may have something that you want to be covered and that you may have to cancel for- you're not sure but your trip is far out and this may happen - you want to cancel for any reason option that gives you coverage all the way around. But again, it's time-sensitive so if you're outside of that window to be eligible for that you're out of luck.

JULIE: And certainly unforeseen winter storms can happen.

GAIL: Yeah people don't want to travel they don't want to leave their home. You know there's a storm coming I don't want to drive to the airport, I have a two-hour drive to the airport. if they know it two or more days prior to their scheduled departure date and they choose not to go they can file a claim under the cancel for any reason benefit be eligible for at least 75% reimbursement of whatever they would lose on their trip. Which is better than nothing.

JULIE: And I'll tell you from just booking a Disney trip that 75% is a lot of change.

GAIL: It is, it's a lot of money. I mean for the most part without that benefit if you had to cancel for a reason not covered under the policy you lose all that money.

JULIE: Yeah, you’d be out, sure. So at the very minimum considerate it.

GAIL: Definitely consider it. And again, an agent can generally guide you depending on those concerns that you have, how far out your trip is, let you know what is covered, what is not covered. So it's really important to speak with an agent as soon as you've purchased. I've even had people that were thinking about going on a trip and called ahead of time to see what they had to do in order to purchase travel insurance to protect that trip.

JULIE: Wow. Smart traveler there.

GAIL: That is a smart traveler.

JULIE: And anyone listening here who has yet to buy a travel insurance policy – Gail, how much money are we talking? If you're going to Aruba - a couple, heading down for a week, maybe spent a few thousand dollars on some airfare and a nice beachfront hotel - what's the ballpark you're going to spend?

GAIL: Well again it's going to depend on benefits that you're looking for, the company, but you're looking at approximately 7% to 10% of the trip cost, a little more if you're looking for canceled for any reason, and again it's dependent on your age.

JULIE: So I'd say if you spend $5,000 on a trip your insurance policy is $175. Worth the price.

GAIL: Definitely worth the price, definitely.

JULIE: Alright Gail thank you so much for joining us at Tips and Trips by InsureMyTrip and if you ever need that claims assistance or you’re an InsureMyTrip policyholder ask for Gail. Thanks again.

GAIL: Thank you.

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