Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Travel: Interrupted

The Icelandic Etna just keeps spewing, and thousands of folks on business trips, family vacations, even weddings are stuck in airports while their planes remain grounded. In addition to the inconvenience of it all, there's also no question that there's a monetary price to pay, as well.

I don't think we've ever discussed travel insurance (not to be confused with travel medical coverage). More commonly known as "trip interruption insurance," this type of coverage falls under the Property/Casualty rubric. There are, of course, differences in coverage between plans and carriers; regardless, there are typically three general categories of risk: travel accident coverage (which helps pay for ER visits and the like), trip interruption and/or cancellation, and baggage loss. It's the second of these on which we'll focus today.

According to the New York Times, the "travel insurance industry is generally paying claims to travelers stranded in Europe and elsewhere by the drifting Icelandic volcanic ash, treating it mostly as a weather-related event in their policies, industry officials said."

They expect to pay millions of dollars in claims, but for what, exactly?

In this case, the two primary exposures would be for:

Trip cancellation: that is, to cover non-refundable fees to airlines and/or booking agents, tour operators and the like. These can be pretty substantial.

Trip interruption: there are likely a lot of folks who budgeted for a week's stay at the Ritz who must now pony up who knows how many additional days. This coverage could help ease that pain.

Local expert Bill Montgomery, CIC recommends that, in addition to this kind of insurance policy, travelers check to see if their credit card has trip protection built in, as well. He also suggests that folks contact their own agent (and/or a local, independent agent) to see if such coverage can be obtained from that trusted source.

[Thanks to TravelGuard for policy information]
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