Travel insurance saved my trip: True tales of vacations gone wrong

When you're traveling, the last thing you want is something to go wrong, but unfortunately, it does.

People get sick or die before they leave, get hurt or ill while on vacation, or Mother Nature simply prevents you from getting where you need to go. With all the money invested in your trip, smart travelers purchase trip insurance, which typically costs from 4 percent to 10 percent of your total pre-paid, nonrefundable trip cost.

Travel agents know all too well how travel insurance has protected their clients.

"I had a client on a cruise in Mexico and another guest fell on top of her," said Alex Dalton, Affiliate of Travel Experts. "She was treated without any real problems when she was on the bus going to another excursion and another guest stepped on her hurt leg. Back she went to the hospital and finished her trip without any more adventure. She never paid a dime out of pocket because the travel insurance took care of everything."

Cancelled flights


Andrea Crowther remembers two 60-year-old ladies who were taking their first trip without their husbands earlier this year, and who purchased travel insurance before they left.

"They were returning during the time that all flights going in or out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport were canceled due to bad weather," said Crowther, of Susan Peavey Travel. "They called us from Cancun airport at 9 p.m. on Sunday night, telling us that American Airlines could not get them on a flight out for three days. We booked them on a JetBlue flight for the following morning and found them a clean resort close by to spend the night."

Crowther texted them the address of the resort and new flight information.

"We told them to keep all their receipts, and we would open a claim when they got home," she says. "When they returned to the airport the next day, people who were booked on their flight from the night before were sleeping in the airport, waiting to go home on standby over the next two days. We submitted their claim and all was paid in 90 days."

Pre-existing conditions

CTC President John Krieger has a client who enjoys traveling on high-end luxury cruise lines, but who is very resistant to buying travel insurance.

"I have gotten to know a lot about his family over the years," said Krieger "His answer for not buying insurance was that he and his wife were in perfect health. I finally reached him after explaining, for the umpteenth time, that pre-existing conditions covered his extended family, and reminding him that his father has some health issues that needed to be covered."

That was enough for Krieger's client to finally purchase the insurance.


"Four days prior to his cruise departure, his brother-in-law died unexpectedly from cancer," says Krieger. "Without the insurance, he would have lost $76,800."

When Trish Mercer's clients were vacationing in Alaska, they were told about a death in the family. "The well-known car company charged them an extra-large fee for returning the car to a different destination, their tickets had to be changed to a new airport and a new date, and they had to cancel about one-third of their travel plans," says Mercer, of Georgia Travel Experts, an affiliate of Travel Experts.

Mercer explains that most hotels didn't charge a penalty, but the losses on the car, pre-paid tours, and reissue fees totaled nearly $1,500. "Because they had Travel Ex Select, it didn't cost them anything and they were able to make it home," she says.

What could go wrong?

Young families typically don't believe anything is going to happen to them and Pam Walker's clients weren't any different.

"I had a young family of four who thought nothing would ever happen to them or their healthy family members, so they $45,000 on a trip to Peru and the Galapagos," says Walker, who is an affiliate of Travel Experts, Walker Adventures, LTD. "The day before they were to depart, the father-in-law dropped dead of a heart attack on the tennis court."

Unfortunately, the family never did take out insurance, but working with a travel agent helps in situations like this. "I was able to get $20,000 refunded and then the other amount saved for the eventual trip they would take," she says.

Travel insurance minimizes the risks and prevents trips from turning into horror stories.

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