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Trip and Travel Insurance

 

What is trip or travel insurance?

The intention of trip or travel insurance is to protect you should the trip be interrupted or cancelled. Many travel or trip insurance policies provide coverage only if there is a major, unforeseen event that prevents you from traveling or from completing the trip. This event could be health-related (if you or a family member is sick or injured), or could be another type of loss, such as a fire, natural disaster, job loss, jury duty, etc. that forces a trip cancellation.

Each policy may be different; be sure you understand what is covered before you hand over cash or credit card for trip or travel protection. Also be aware that you may have other coverage from your homeowners, renters and/or health insurance policy for some events: buying travel or trip insurance may duplicate existing coverage in some cases.

Consumers should always read the fine print on any insurance policy and ask questions if there is anything that is not clear.

 

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You can check the Colorado Division of Insurance website to verify that a company or individual is licensed to sell insurance before you buy a policy. If the company isn’t licensed, you may not be buying insurance. If you are purchasing from a company based in another state, check with the Insurance Regulator in that state for information on licensing.

Find a licensed agent or licensed insurance company in Colorado.
 

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In order to sell insurance in Colorado, companies must prove they have reserves to cover anticipated claims, and must have their financial situation reviewed periodically. Their rates and forms must be on file with the Division of Insurance. They must adhere to all applicable insurance and consumer protection laws.

In addition to being against the law to sell insurance without a license, companies who are not licensed to sell insurance do not offer the same financial protections to consumers because they are not regulated.

Be aware: Some unscrupulous operators carefully call their “product” anything EXCEPT insurance, to avoid charges they are selling insurance without a license. Phrases such as “benefit services contract” or “travel protection plan” should offer a clue that you are not really purchasing insurance. Know what you are buying.

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Before you travel, it is best to review your current insurance policies and the coverage offered when you are away from home.

Homeowners policies and renters policies usually offer protection for personal belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged on a trip, but be sure you understand the deductibles and any limits that may apply. If you make an expensive purchase while traveling, such as artwork or jewelry, it’s wise to get an additional rider or separate policy if the value exceeds your policy limits. If you have questions, check with your agent.

Health coverage may have some restrictions. If you are in an HMO or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan, there may be limited coverage when traveling if you must use medical care outside the network or, the policy may exclude treatment received outside of the United States. Be sure to carry information with you about your health insurance or health coverage, including copies of any prescriptions you use regularly, medical history, allergies, or recurring conditions, should you need emergency care away from home.

Some medical providers in other countries may require immediate payment when services are rendered. Find out what your health plan’s policy is for reimbursing your expenses, if you must pay out-of-pocket for medical services needed on your trip. There may be a deductible or limits to your coverage.

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Be sure you understand the insurance options available to you. There are companies that provide protection and refunds should you cancel or change your travel plans. If you buy a non-refundable plane ticket or cruise, there are insurance policies that can be purchased to protect you if you miss the flight, or are unable to take the trip. Some policies will have a generous list of acceptable reasons and others may be very specific about circumstances that warrant a refund.


Each “travel protection” policy may provide different benefits:
there may be a deductible amount, or a refund may only be available if your trip was interrupted for certain allowable reasons. Some plans may cover weather-related cancellations, others do not. Some plans will refund you if there is a medical emergency, but some plans don’t include pre-existing conditions in their list of acceptable reasons for cancelling. If you choose to purchase trip insurance, don’t guess about what may be covered, be sure you check the policy and ask questions if you don’t understand.

The medical portion of many travel insurance policies may limit coverage of pre-existing conditions. The insurance policy may not cover you if a known, or existing, condition — such as a heart condition or asthma — acts up and requires you to seek medical attention while on your trip, or if the flare-up on the conditions prevents you from taking the trip at all.

Don’t assume you can change your mind about a trip for any reason and get a full refund through trip insurance: be sure you read the policy before purchasing.

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Find out if the trip protection policy covers these possible losses:
Trip Delay/Cancellation/Interruption, Lost Baggage And Baggage Delay, Itinerary Change, Emergency Medical or Dental Coverage, Emergency Medical Transportation or Medical Evacuation;
Lost Baggage Coverage / Baggage Delay, Missed Connection; Collision/Loss Damage, Travel Accident.

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Find out what happens if you decide to cancel the trip before departure. Will you get a full or partial refund for the cost of trip insurance? Are there certain circumstances under which you can cancel and get a refund, or is it “money back and no questions asked?”

Some companies allow cancellations for medical reasons, or weather-related decisions; others do not. What happens if your financial situation changes, if you are laid off or fired before departure? What if there are reports of terrorism near your destination and you want to delay your trip?

Know what cancellations are covered before you buy. Find out if there is a processing cost if you cancel and if you feel it is a reasonable cost.

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Generally, if you are renting a car on vacation, your personal car insurance policy will cover you, but it is important that you contact your insurance provider and find out. An insurance policy is a contract, and you should know what is in the agreement.

When you rent a car, you will be offered optional additional auto insurance by the rental agency. However, your regular auto insurance may already provide you with adequate protection, even in a rental car.

If you use a credit card to rent a vehicle, you may also have some coverage through your credit card company. This is typically secondary coverage, with your usual auto insurance picking up the primary role in case of an accident. This means you must exhaust your automobile insurance limits and pay any deductibles before the credit card coverage picks up additional costs.

But remember - a small amount of damage to a rental car (even a scrape in a parking lot) is not the same as minor damage to your own car which you might ignore or get fixed on your own. Even if you get in a minor accident, the rental company will assess the damage and bill you for whatever amount is appropriate. They may even charge "loss-of-use" fees while the car is being repaired. These amounts can add up quickly.

If your existing automobile insurance policy covers you when you are driving a rental car (always check to be sure!), the coverage will not be greater than the coverage on a car you own. For example, if you do not have collision coverage on your own car, collision would not be covered on a rental car either.

If you’re traveling outside the U.S. and renting a car, you’ll need to check with your insurance company or agent to see if your auto insurance applies abroad. Even minor accidents or damage could involve a costly and time-consuming process.

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This depends on your policy – do not assume that your traveling companions are covered without seeing this in writing in your contract. Find out what the company’s definition of “family members” might be.

If you are traveling with others in your family, find out if the coverage includes:
your legal spouse, common-law spouse, legal guardian, son or daughter, sibling, parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, grandchild, great-grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew? Does it cover step-family members or in-laws?
Find out if the coverage for family members requires that they stay in the same room or cabin with you, or whether they can be on a different flight or even a different hotel and still be covered.

Do not wait until there is a need for insurance to find out what is covered.

Consumers should always read the fine print on any insurance policy and ask questions if there is anything that is not clear.

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(303) 894-7499 - Phone (800) 930-3745 - Toll Free (303) 894-7455 - Fax