Planning the SNOWCHASE
Photo by ccPixs.com
You picked your destination. You have a place to stay. You booked your flights. You got your gear. What’s missing?
Well, if everything goes as planned, all that’s left to do is wait for your sweet sweet ski vacation to start. But what if you or someone in your group gets really sick a couple of days before? Or there’s a death in the family, or other emergency that keeps you from going? Wouldn’t it suck even more if, in addition to whatever bad thing happened and in addition to not being able to go, you’d also have to watch a good chunk of your hard-earned money go down the drain – the money that you already spent on nonrefundable deposits, airline tickets, etc.?
But fear not, this is where travel insurance comes in. For a (relatively speaking) little bit of money you can make sure you get your deposits and other cost back in case you have to cancel. And most travel insurance packages also include reimbursements for extra costs in case you get sick during your trip, or in case your flight gets delayed.
All insurance policies are not created equal. Do your due diligence.
Insurance is a product, and like with all products that you consider buying, it pays to know what the options are and what exactly you are spending your money on. So here’s some useful background that will help you make the right decision.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Travel insurance can consist of insurance against multiple different travel-related risks
- Cancellation of the trip before the departure due to circumstances outside the traveler’s control
- Circumstances outside the traveler’s control requiring an early return home
- Cost due to travel delays caused by circumstances outside the traveler’s control
- Additional accident coverage for rental cars
- Medical emergencies during the trip that are not covered by the traveler’s regular health insurance
- Service provider bankruptcy or similar circumstances that prevent a service provider (airline, hotel, etc.) from providing contracted services
As you have probably noticed, the common denominator in the list above is that all these risks are due to events outside the traveler’s control. Basic travel insurance is not meant to bail you out in case you get up too late and miss your flight, or in case you change your mind for no good reason (defined as “any reason not covered by the travel insurance plan”).
Within most travel insurance plans, there are several levels of coverage. For example, a basic plan may only cover trip cancellations or interruptions, but not the cost of medical treatment or medical evacuations. Coverage limits may also differ – a basic plan may cap total reimbursements per traveler at only a few thousand bucks, or reimbursement for any individual risk at only a few hundred bucks. Of course, a plan that covers more risks – or has higher limits for reimbursements – will be more expensive. So you and your travel buddies have to figure out how much you want to spend on insurance, and what residual risk you are comfortable with.
How Much Do You Need?
Factors to take into account when shopping for travel insurance:
- How many people are going?
- How likely is it that they (or someone in their immediate family) will get seriously ill before or during a trip?
- How complex is the trip? What is the likelihood of one of the service providers going under, or not delivering?
Basically, the more moving parts there are in your travel plan, the higher the chances of something going wrong, and the higher the need for travel insurance.
How to Buy
You can get travel insurance in two ways:
- When buying your ticket or booking your hotel room or rental car, as part of the overall purchase
- Separately, after you start making your travel preparations (but you usually have to buy your separately-purchased insurance within a certain time window after booking the rest of your trip)
If you go the #1 route, you are usually locked in to whichever travel insurance provider the airline, hotel, or travel site has made a deal with. Which means that often (but not always) you are not getting the best deal – especially when it comes to rental car insurance, where the insurance that the rental car website is trying to push or that the rental car representative at the counter is trying to upsell you on is usually much more expensive.
Team SNOWCHASE has had good luck with approach #2 – we have been using Allianz Travel Insurance and they were very responsive when we had questions about their product, and they were also very easy to deal with when we actually had to file a claim due to a flight delay on one of our trips. We also got our rental car insurance from them.
Here’s to fun, safe and cancellation/interruption-free travels – but don’t forget to get insurance, just in case.