Check out these sites for objective travel insurance information

Elaine Karlson is planning a vacation to Cooperstown, N.Y., to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and to watch her grandson compete in a baseball game. And she’s worried.

First, there’s the price difference between the refundable airline tickets and the nonrefundable ones — the refundable ones are three times as expensive. There’s also the question of what to do if she and her husband have to cancel.

Instead of paying extra for the less restricted ticket, she’s considering travel insurance. Read more “Check out these sites for objective travel insurance information”

Meet the underwriters: TripInsurance.com

Note: The following post is part of our ongoing series, “Meet the underwriters,” in which I introduce you to the companies that support the consumer advocacy on this site. We’re very grateful to them, and I hope you will show your support by giving them your business.

TripInsurance.com was launched in 2011 as a new travel insurance comparison site, but with a few new twists. First, unlike other comparison websites, TripInsurance.com policies are only available at the site and have been designed exclusively for the site, providing three levels of protection (Good, Better and Best) directly from some of the largest travel insurance underwriters in the country. I asked Dan Skilken, the company’s president and chief executive, to explain how TripInsurance.com works.

How is TripInsurance.com different from other travel insurance sites?

First, we are not just about selling travel insurance. We hope to add value to the traveler and his or her travel experience, not only with insurance, but with relevant travel information to assure the best possible trip. Second, we truly believe that travel insurance should be part of everyone’s travel plans, and we have made the selection and purchase process as easy as possible. Third, we have accomplished all this with a substantial cost savings by offering products directly to the consumer, eliminating many of the additional costs built into plans offered by travel agents and other comparison websites.

How are travel insurance products usually packaged and sold?

Generally speaking, travel insurance products today are sold through multiple channels, including Administrators, or General Agents and travel agents. Any product from a specific company with a specific name will always be the same. No matter whom you buy these policies from, the coverage and pricing will be the same.

So it doesn’t matter where you buy your insurance — you’ll always get the same price?

Until now that was true. But at Tripinsurance.com, we offer exclusive products with comparable or better coverage and we have eliminated the “middleman cost” to assure our customers of substantial savings and higher value.

So you can offer lower prices because you’re dealing directly with your insurance underwriters?

The products are designed to be sold direct, and with fewer middlemen in the channel. So we can pass the savings on to the customer. On TripInsurance.com, you can buy comparable coverage for as much as 40 to 50 percent less than products you buy on other comparison websites or from a travel agent.

What else do travel insurance buyers need to know about insurance that isn’t common knowledge?

There are actually relatively few underwriters of travel insurance. This results in four or five different brands of travel insurance all backed by the same underwriter, with minor variations in the coverage details and price.

So you get many products overlapping from the same underwriter, right?

Exactly. And it is confusing and takes consumers way too much time to sort out the minor differences and similar options and buy a travel insurance policy today that meets their specific needs.

How else is TripInsurance.com different?

We’re dedicated to providing better customer service.

We make the policy terms easier to understand and easy to compare. We also have 24/7 telephone customer support to help our customers make the right purchase; provide travel assistance before, during and after the trip; and when something does go wrong, we are there to help with claims.

Customers can file claims and check the status of claims online on our website site for every brand we sell. Also, every policy sold includes enrollment in e-Travel Alerts. This gives our customers emailed bulletins of any news that could affect their travel plans. No other travel insurance company provides this kind of service to help make travel safer and more enjoyable.

Do I really need travel insurance? This might help you decide

Do you need insurance for your next trip?

That’s a question we ask all the time on this site, and it was the topic of a popular series earlier this year.

Truth is, if you have to make just one large claim, you’ll be glad you had travel insurance. But what, exactly, are your chances are of making a claim on a travel insurance policy, and what kind of claims are typically filed?

This infographic is pretty enlightening.

Many thanks to our sponsor TripInsurance.com for giving us an early look at these numbers. Here’s a link to the full-size graphic.

Stay tuned for a sequel to the travel insurance series in early 2012.