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What about trip insurance?

M Your dream ski trip to Switzerland starts next week, and today you break your ankle. You call the travel agent to cancel and discover that if you don't go as planned, you forfeit most of the cost of the trip. The agent says that this late, only limited refunds are available from the resort hotels, airlines, and buses involved. It's for situations like this one that trip insurance exists. Trip insurance can also cover baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, and more. Prices vary widely depending on the type of policy you buy; to insure an eight-day European ski trip, you'll pay anywhere from $25 to $125. What's available Trip cancellation policies kick in if death or doctor-verified illness or injury strikes you, your traveling companion, or a close family member before your trip. The insurance will cover all the nonrefundable trip costs you've incurred. Most policies also cover you if extreme weather prevents you from leaving, or if your tour operator or carrier goes bankrupt more than 10 to 15 days (depending on the policy) after you purchased the insurance. Cost of the policy depends on the price of the trip, roughly $60 per $1,000. There is usually no deductible. This policy must be bought well ahead, and it is among the most important you can buy, since tour organizations usually want trips paid in full 60 days in advance and charge heavy penalties for cancellations. Trip interruption insurance is similar, but goes into effect when misfortune interrupts a trip in progress. The policy is included with cancellation coverage. Important exclusions: these policies don't cover illness that results from a preexisting health condition-if, for example, the pneumonia you had when you booked the trip still hasn't gone away by the time you're supposed to leave. Baggage loss or delay policies pay back money you spend to tide yourself over when your baggage is more than 24 hours late. While coverage varies, $50 to $ 1 00 is the typical benefit paid when your baggage shows up at least a day late. If your baggage is lost, you're insured for whatever amount you designate when you buy the policy. This is important for international travel; by treaty, if you don't have insurance, airlines only have to reimburse you $9.07 per pound. For domestic travel, reimbursement varies by airline. Cost depends on the length of your trip and the amount of coverage you buy. For an eight-day trip, you might pay $30 per $1,000 of coverage. Medical policies pay to have you treated for problems that originate on your trip. Illness and injury provisions are separate and often very different. Sickness, for example, may be worth only 50 per day-barely enough to cover the deductible on your personal health insurance policy. Injury provisions may be worth thousands. Before you buy either, find out what your present coverage will do for you overseas, and buy only as much extra trip insurance as you need to supplement it. If your trip takes you to remote areas with poor medical facilities, consider a medical policy with a transport provision: it will pay to have you airlifted back to civilization (even back to the United States) if that's necessary for proper treatment. The cost of a medical policy depends mostly on the length of your trip, and usually is sold only as an option on other trip-insurance policies. Accidental death and dismemberment coverage is part of most trip insurance packages; some cover you only while you're on an airline, while others cover you from the trip's start to finish. In any case, you're probably covered by your life insurance policy (and perhaps by the credit card you use to buy your ticket). Where to buy it Though some travel policies are available from insurance agents at airport kiosks, most are sold by travel agents and tour operators. Group policies sold by tour operators for their own tours give the most coverage for the least money, but rarely offer you choices of coverage. If you'd rather buy a customized individual policy, ask your agent. If you don't like what you hear, phone around: different agencies offer policies from different insurance companies. Pay close attention to the exclusions Most policies are geared to one trip taken during a specific time period. Policies usually require that your trip be completed within 180 days of the time you buy the policy, so if your trip is delayed for some reason, be sure to check whether the policy will still be in force when you leave. Policies do have exclusions; read the fine print before you buy.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1991
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