When buying travel insurance is a good idea

Vacationers head north on NC 12 on Hatteras Island, N.C., on Friday, July 28, 2017. An estimated 10,000 tourists face a noon deadline Friday for evacuating the island on North Carolina's Outer Banks after a construction company caused a power outage, leaving people searching for a place to eat, stay cool or to resume interrupted vacations. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

WASHINGTON — Some of the visitors to North Carolina’s Outer Banks whose vacations were canceled abruptly will turn to their travel insurance to get back what they paid. But for the uninsured, they may be forced to swallow the bill for a trip that never happened.

Close to 10,000 visitors were forced to head home early after a construction mistake led to a widespread power outage and evacuation on Friday.

“If you don’t have trip cancellation insurance, you get nothing back in a situation like this,” said Damian McCabe, CEO of McCabe World Travel based in McLean.

McCabe said travelers who opted for travel insurance, will be able to make a claim because their dwelling has become uninhabitable.

She recommends trip cancellation insurance to her clients because it covers many unforeseen circumstances like if the traveler or an immediate family member becomes ill. It can also help if the traveler or a loved one becomes sick while on the trip and needs immediate medical attention.

“Your U.S. health insurance doesn’t cover that, nor does Medicare,” McCabe said.

Many insurance plans according to McCabe also cover lost luggage or help recoup expenses if vacationers arrive late to their destination because of a canceled flight.

Not all policies are created equal. Travelers see more coverage, the more they pay for the plan. Some plans may fill the gaps where health insurance stops. For travelers who elect primary travel insurance, they don’t need to go through their own insurance first.

Some agencies, like MedJet, which specialize in offering medical coverage to bring a traveler back to their home airport if they should fall ill.

The average cost for the most comprehensive plans is 8 percent to 10 percent of a trip’s cost. Also, the younger a traveler is, the less they will pay for coverage, according to McCabe.

Some travelers may choose to utilize insurance through their credit cards. But travelers should only depend on that option for less expensive trips, she said.

“If you are making a significant investment, you should also buy trip cancellation insurance,” McCabe said.

Tourists with pre-existing medical conditions can also get insured. But McCabe said for many policies. there are rules which need to be followed. One requirement is the insurance must be purchased a certain number of days after an initial trip deposit is made.

Terrorism is also covered in plans, McCabe said, if a terrorist act hasn’t occurred in the destination over the past 30 days.

“But if there is a situation in London for example, and then you decide to buy the insurance, it doesn’t cover terrorism cancellation,” McCabe said.

Among other unforeseen issues, McCabe has seen travelers covered for the recent closing of a tour guide company. For travelers who bought the insurance, they got their money back, those uninsured lost the vacation dollars they spent, McCabe said.


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