Travel insurance is not the sexiest topic in travel, but it is one of the most important. To some travelers, they think it sounds like the extended warranty on an electronics purchase. Or they believe their credit card will cover cancellation charges, that medicare will cover them, or that they don’t need it.
Upon closer inspection, most of these beliefs don’t really hold up. Even before the pandemic, a good travel insurance policy was crucial; and now even more so. Now some countries actually require travel insurance in order to visit them.
Let me cover some of those beliefs by starting with credit card coverages. Yes, there are some credit cards that offer cancellation coverage – usually up to $5,000 total. Most vacations in foreign countries are going to cost more than that – a lot more. Many Amex cardholders think that their Platinum card offers medical coverage abroad, but in fact it only offers a service to help find a good medical provider…it doesn’t pay for it. While some Medicare plans state they cover emergency medical while abroad, in practice it is not widely accepted with the exception of Canada. In the Caribbean and South America, the hospital will not admit you without surrendering your passport, and you will not get it back until the bill is paid in full. So you may not want to wait the 45 or 60 days for your Medicare supplemental to pay the hospital…if it even qualifies.
And even if you are traveling in the USA, the medical evacuation coverage can be a lifesaver.
There is an agent here at MGA Travel that was traveling with his mother on an Alaskan cruise. She had a “cardiac event” while on the cruise, and the closest city was the capital of Alaska, Juneau. An ambulance was waiting at the pier and took her to the hospital. As she was in the United States, her medicare would cover her medical needs at the hospital. Unfortunately, at least at that time, there was not a single cardiologist in the state capital. So she had to be medevaced to Anchorage on a special type of medical plane, with multiple nurses and staff to escort her safely. This $100,000 plus medevac was covered by her travel insurance policy, which fortunately her son has encouraged her to purchase. I have had other cases, where someone was on a cruise out at sea and had to have a helicopter medevac them to shore.
I recommend that any travel insurance policy have a minimum of $50,000 in emergency medical and $250,000 in medical evacuation coverage. The cancellation coverage should be the actual cost of your trip.
At MGA Travel, we recommend Allianz Travel Insurance, with certain exceptions where we may suggest getting the travel supplier’s insurance plan.
We do not work with any other company because they have been a reliable partner. This is not to say anything negative about other companies; it’s just that our experience has been working with them and it has been a positive relationship.
I have included a lot of information in this article that one can research this subject more in-depth. That being said, I am not an insurance agent, so if you have questions of more detail, I would recommend calling Allianz directly at 1-866-884-3556.
Before this pandemic, travel insurance companies excluded epidemics and pandemics specifically. However in practice Allianz (and other companies) have been treating covid-19 like any other illness and so it has had coverage in that way. In April of 2021, Allianz changed their policies to include some epidemic coverage. Each state requires approval to make changes, but as of today 48 states have approved the new plan.
Here is an overview of the South Carolina plan, with the epidemic coverage endorsement on page 29 . If you live in a different state than South Carolina, please visit this site and select your state. As of January 10, 2022, there are two states that have not yet approved the epidemic coverage endorsement: NY and WA.
The two South Carolina Allianz policies I’ve shown below do include the newer Epidemic Coverage Endorsement, which offers some cost of quarantine coverage (per above). One of the policies has a “Cancel Anytime” rider that pays up to 80% (but if you cancel for a “covered’ reason it would be at 100%).
Keep in mind that there is not an Allianz policy that covers:
a) canceling for fear of covid 19
b) government ordered border closure
c) not visiting scheduled ports of call
However, if you did get the Cancel Anytime policy you can use the cancel anytime rider to cancel because you just don’t want to go, for 80% reimbursement.
Of course any claim does not reimburse the cost of the insurance premium itself. When you review the coverages, the coverage amounts are per person.
Please be advised that the coverage amounts on Emergency medical and evacuation are much less on the Cancel Anytime plan as compared to the Classic Plan, however the Cancel Anytime does give you much more flexibility on the cancellation aspect. In my opinion, the emergency medical coverages and evacuation coverage amounts are much more important than cancellation coverage; however, that is a personal decision.
We can provide an insurance quote for you, but please make sure that you have included all of your travel costs, such air and cruise.
Classic Plan detailsCancel Anytime plan details
If you do not purchase the plans within 14 days of deposit, you do not get supplier default coverage or pre-existing condition coverage. One exception is our Group Advantage Policy, which does waive pre-existing up to final payment date of your trip.
I want to reiterate that for me the more important aspect is emergency medical coverage and medical evacuation coverage, which I have seen used many times by clients and they always have been paid or reimbursed by Allianz for legitimate claims.
A personal example is regarding my mother, who broke her hip on a cruise in February 2020. The nearest hospital was Cozumel – they take your passport for admission and you do not get it back until the bill is paid. My mom has medicare and supplemental insurance, neither of which were accepted. She ended up having to have the surgery there, and the bill was just shy of $50,000.
Allianz wired the money to the hospital and only then was she was discharged. Later Allianz reimbursed her for the days of the cruise missed, and the cost of repatriation flights etc. I was also on the cruise (it was a large group), and I exited with my parents to make sure things went smoothly. My policy reimbursed (I was covered as a traveling companion) me for my hotel stay during this time, the days I missed of the cruise, and my flights home as well.
As I hope you can see, this is not an “extended warranty.”
Here are some additional resources:
https://mgatravel.com/insurancewaiver/Pandemic Travel Waiver
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