How do I choose the right travel insurance policy?

Editor’s note: This is part two in a series of posts about travel insurance sponsored by Access America. Here’s part one.

Nina Boal needs a travel insurance policy. But with so many choices out there, which one should she buy?

“I want to see if I can buy appropriate policy,” she says. “I checked online, and can’t find any direct answers.”

She’s right. An online search for “travel insurance” is likely to pull up a long and confusing list of possible answers. But there are really just three options.
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Everything you ever wanted to know about travel insurance (but were afraid to ask)

Editor’s note: This is part one in a series of posts about travel insurance. It is sponsored by Access America and researched with assistance from the US Travel Insurance Association, a trade organization. Here’s more information about sponsored posts.

Do you need travel insurance?

A good policy can offer you peace of mind for your upcoming vacation.

If something goes wrong – if your trip is interrupted or if you have to cancel – you can recover some or all of your costs.

About 1 in 3 travelers buy insurance for their trip, according to the US Travel Insurance Association. Should you be one of them?

Before taking out a policy, it’s important to determine whether you need protection at all.
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“This seems more like fraud to me”

Ken Smith isn’t the only person affected by the untimely demise of Cruise West. But he thought he wouldn’t be in the same boat as the other stranded passengers. After all, he had travel insurance.

He thought wrong.

His insurance company, Access America, said it wouldn’t cover a company for financial default. I got involved to see if I could help, and I’ll get to the resolution in a moment. But first, let’s hear from Smith.
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Sometimes getting an insurance claim paid is like a game of chess

If you think travel agents are about as worthless as travel insurance — and I’ve seen your comments on this site, so I know you’re out there — then you’ll like this story.

Joanne Babbitt contacted me a few weeks ago because she was trying to handle an insurance claim for two clients who had been on a tour of the Galapagos Islands and Peru. It’s highly unusual for a travel agent to ask for my help, except for the occasional debit-memo dispute with an airline.

Then I reviewed the problem.
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Now that’s what I call an ethical customer!

Behind the scenes, employees often grumble that their customers would do anything to get a deal. They justify their own misrepresentations by saying consumers lie, too.

But not all travelers are ethically challenged. Exhibit “A” is Jeff Peterson, who sent me a question yesterday that I’ve never been asked.
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Travel insurance claim denied, denied, denied — oh, never mind!

Here’s a truly strange case, brought to you by the H1N1 virus and our friends at Access America.

You might say Marian Levin’s claim was denied on a technicality. An important technicality that I’ll get to in a moment. But it’s how her problem was resolved that’s even more interesting: Her travel insurance company turned down her claim and a subsequent appeal but then mailed her a check anyway.

All of which goes to show that if you don’t like the first (or second, or third) answer from a travel insurance company, just keep asking.

Levin explains what happened to her:
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Help, my travel insurance company won’t answer the phone!

wallIt’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: You’re in trouble, so you reach for your phone to call your travel insurance company. The line rings. And rings. And rings.

No one answers.

This nightmare scenario happened to David Miller when his travel documents went missing. He tried to call Access America through its collect number. No one was home.
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Claim denied on a terrorism technicality

delhiQuestion: My travel insurance claim has been denied, and so have my appeals. I hope you can help us.

My husband and I were scheduled to visit India last Thanksgiving, the day after the horrific terrorist event began. British and Americans were being singled out and murdered, hotels were being burned, and threats were made of hijacking and attacks on airports and train stations in the country.

We were terrified of the unfolding events, and canceled our travel plans. We had purchased a travel insurance policy through Access America. One of the named perils is a terrorist event.

Access America has denied our claim because we were scheduled to travel to New Delhi, and the hotel that was under siege was in Mumbai. I believe that the definition of destination — according to their policy and the online dictionary — includes the entire country. Plus, as part of the terrorist activity, impending threats were made to airports, train stations and other places throughout India.

We’ve lost about $7,300. Is there anything you can do? — Diane Gandara, Napa, Calif.

Answer: I agree with your definition of a destination. Access America should have refunded the money you spent on your vacation.

Why didn’t it? I asked the company, and a representative told me that in order to make a successful claim, the terrorist event would have to occur in the city you were traveling to. Since you were on your way to Delhi, not Mumbai, the claims examiner was technically correct to deny your request.
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What to do when a Swiss collection agency demands $3,810 from your girlfriend

zermattIt might be something of an understatement to say that the ski trip that Victor Thomas and his girlfriend Susie took in Zermatt, Switzerland, two years ago, did not go as planned.

On her first day on the slope, Susie fell and shattered her lower leg. She spent the rest of her vacation in the hospital.

Good thing Thomas had bought travel insurance through Access America — or so he thought.
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