Many travelers find it easy to dismiss "travel insurance" and choose to roll the dice hoping nothing will go wrong. Unfortunately, stuff can and does happen beyond your control that can wreck your journey. The more I talk with the people behind the policies though, it becomes clear that they are people like you and I that just want to go out and explore new places and bring back amazing stories each time they travel.
In the past, travel insurance might have been dark and scary but luckily there are people like Bob Chambers, VP of Operations at Generali Global Assistance who are working to help put a human face on this important service.
What do you think is the most important thing people should know about purchasing travel insurance?
After 25 years in the insurance industry, I think it’s safe to say that most people who buy travel insurance and need to use it are thankful they decided to buy it. From emergency medical evacuations or transportation that can costs tens of thousands of dollars to lost luggage, it can really make a difference when it comes to recouping lost trip costs. Also, if you’ve invested more in your vacation than you can afford to lose, then it’s safe to say you should purchase a travel insurance policy. There are different policies, so if you have any questions, then call the travel insurance company and ask ahead of time. Most companies offer a free look period (generally 10 days) in which you can get your money back if you don’t leave for your trip and haven’t filed a claim.
Do you like to "play it safe" on vacation or go for the ultimate adventure?
I’ve been known to a little of both. For example, I went zip-lining through the jungle in Jamaica on my last cruise. I’ve been known to participate in some hazardous activities during my vacations, which brings up another good point. If you know that you’re going to doing hazardous activities during your vacation, then be sure that your travel insurance policy covers you. For example, you may be covered if you ski in bounds on your next ski trip. However, if you’re extreme skiing or go out of bounds, then you may not be covered. Check your policy to be sure you know before you go.
What do you think most people don't understand about travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a heavily regulated industry and can be confusing at times. Some common misconceptions are that you can’t buy travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, that your credit card will cover you and you don’t need a supplemental travel insurance policy and that you will be covered no matter what. Those aren’t necessarily true. Again, travelers need to ask questions and do their homework beforehand to know what is covered.
Describe your ultimate guys weekend?
White-water rafting in the spring when the rivers are high!
What's one place you look forward to going soon?
Next on the bucket list is a photo safari to Africa. I was never that interested in going to Africa until a former boss traveled there and shared his experiences and photos…it sounds like an amazing life experience.
Have you ever had a situation where you were glad that you had travel insurance?
Not too long ago my wife and I were going to France for vacation. We were supposed to leave from San Diego early on a Sunday morning. We had prepaid our hotel in Paris, and it was non-refundable. The plane had mechanical difficulties and we waited at the airport for almost 5 hours before they told us we wouldn’t be able to leave until the next day. We’d taken Uber to the airport, so we had to Uber back home, then do it all over again Monday morning. We arrived in Paris a day late; the insurance paid for the day of hotel we missed (it was not a cheap hotel), plus the extra Uber fares to/from the airport (also not cheap as we’re about 25 miles from the airport). I think frequent travelers recognize that this is something that happens all too often, and also could happen to anyone. Imagine if we were going on a cruise and missed the cruise departure – we would have had to try to catch up with the cruise at the next port of call.
- Written by James Hills
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