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Sep 18, 2018

Why do I need supplemental travel insurance?

Travel mishaps such as delayed flights and lost luggage may not qualify as your worst nightmare, but having a serious health issue while visiting an emerging nation might. But because most personal liability policies are designed for the average household, they do not adequately protect individuals and families of greater affluence from liability suits.

You may have the need and desire to travel frequently, and that frequency ups the odds of experiencing some unpleasantness while traveling. You may also like, or need, to visit less developed countries where the likelihood of something going wrong is greater.

The purpose here is to enlighten, not to frighten, but all insurance assumes that at some point something can go wrong, and intelligent individuals prepare for that possibility. You may already receive travel insurance through your credit card or your business, but we suggest that you check the level and depth of coverage to make certain it is sufficient.

For example, if you, a member of your family or a caretaker sustains an injury—a broken ankle, say—or requires a time-sensitive surgery such as an appendectomy, you may need an emergency evacuation and transportation to a more populous area or even to another country. To get a sense of what that might cost, one insurance carrier we work with offers coverage of up to $250,000 just for emergency medical transportation.

But supplemental travel insurance is not only about preparing for nightmare scenarios. It also eases and covers what we might call the bad dreams of travel. Imagine you are in a major European city, ready to return home after an arduous round of meetings. You get to the airport, check your baggage, go through security and find out a half hour later that because of a snowstorm in New York, your flight has been canceled. Now what?

You cannot get your luggage back because it has already passed through security. You have your smartphone, your laptop and the clothes on your back, and that is it. Now begins a round of calls: to the hotel you just checked out of, to the limo service to take you back into town, to a clothing store for a change of clothes, and so forth. Who is going to cover all this added expense?

You may be nodding your head as you read this. If you are, we suggest you read below to get a sense of how supplemental travel insurance can, at the very least, lower your stress level.

WHAT DOES SUPPLEMENTAL TRAVEL INSURANCE COVER?

Policies vary, of course, but generally they offer the convenience of paying a single annual premium instead of filling out paperwork trip by trip. Many policies also offer a 24/7/365 concierge feature that provides a range of services.

Though the representatives answering the phone may not actually call clothing stores or hotels for you, they often provide assistance with travel options, replacement ticket purchases and airport transportation. They may also help replace lost travel documents, passports, prescriptions, and so on. Some may even recommend a restaurant for that unexpected dinner in Paris.

In terms of coverage, most policies reimburse you not only for lost luggage but also for supplemental items such as clothing and incidentals that you must purchase should your luggage take off without you. Your coverage should include compensation for nonrefundable ticket purchases. Also, it should provide a sufficient daily allowance for food and temporary lodging should your delay stretch beyond 24 hours.

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