Travel insurance is strongly recommended if you are pre-paying for a tour and cannot afford to lose that payment.
Travel is expensive: an insurance policy protects the investments you’ve made in a tour. Once you’ve paid for your trip, what will happen if you or someone in your immediate family unexpectedly becomes ill, suffers a serious injury, or die—and you can no longer take or continue your trip?
A travel insurance policy usually packages together several kinds of coverage under the umbrella term of “travel insurance.”
Trip Cancellation Insurance
A policy that will protect (i.e., pay you back) if you have to cancel a trip. For example, if you have purchased a $4000 place on a tour and purchased airfare for an additional $500, you have a $4,500 investment in your trip. A cancellation or interruption of your trip will cause you to lose some or all of your costs. In addition to the loss of your trip payments, there are a whole host of associated costs that come into play should you fall ill overseas, such as changing airline tickets, additional hotel accommodation, phone calls home, etc.
Trip cancellation insurance and trip Interruption/delay insurance can provide protection of your covered trip cost when you, an immediate family member, or traveling companion cancel or interrupt a trip for covered reasons. Trip delay insurance can reimburse you for meals and accommodation expenses for a covered trip delay. Covered reasons usually include you, your traveling companion, or immediate family member becoming ill.
Your baggage and personal possessions can be lost, stolen, or damaged any time or anywhere in the world. Baggage insurance is important as airlines only provide limited protection for your checked baggage and do not cover your carry-on items. Cruise lines and hotels offer little or no coverage. Check with your homeowners or renters insurance as they may provide limited benefits.
Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance
There is always a possibility you might have an accident or become ill and require an ambulance, medical helicopter, or other medical conveyance to transport you to immediate care. If you need to be medically transported back to your home country, expenses may include a private air ambulance, or a block of seats large enough to accommodate a stretcher and medical equipment on a commercial flight and an accompanying medical attendant. These expenses be very high.
- Most U.S. medical policies provide little or no coverage for these expenses. Medicare will NOT cover you outside the US nor will most Medicare supplements. Emergency medical evacuation policies offer $50,000-$100,000 worth of coverage.
How Much Insurance Should You Buy and How Much Will It Cost?
The price of a trip cancellation insurance policy varies according to the company, the amount of coverage you want to purchase, and your age. At a minimum, most people insure the cost of the trip (what you pay to Mass Audubon) plus airfare.
When shopping for insurance, the price should not be the only criterion you consider. You should read the coverage information carefully. Most insurers provide adequate medical expense coverage nowadays, but difficulties can arise if you have a pre-existing condition that needs treatment while you are away or if you are injured while taking part in a hazardous activity not covered by your policy.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, most policies will require that you sign up for insurance within one or two weeks of sending in your trip deposit. We recommend that you read the policy very carefully to be certain you are covered.
Why do we so strongly recommend travel insurance?
- You are pre-paying for a tour. If you have to cancel, you will lose at least part of your payment. There are no exceptions to the published cancellation policies.
- If you cannot afford to lose your tour payment, a travel insurance policy is designed to protect the investments you have made towards a tour. Travel is expensive!
- You may not think you will have to cancel, but someone in your immediate family could have an unexpected illness, injury, or death resulting in the need for you to cancel a trip or end it early.
- Be sure to check to see if your own health insurance will cover your medical expenses while you travel. NOTE: Medicare will NOT cover you outside the US nor will most Medicare supplements.
Options for Purchasing Trip Insurance
- You can compare and purchase a wide range of policies using InsureMyTrip.
- Ask your travel agent for a recommended policy.
- Review and purchase both Trip Insurance and a Global Rescue membership:
- You may find the following brochure useful to review—USI is one of the many companies and options you have for trip insurance:
Call Mass Audubon Travel Director, Karen O'Neill, at 800-289-9504.