Explore your options when considering travel insurance
The summer travel season is in full swing and countless Minnesotans will be traveling across the country and around the world in the next few months. Some consumers will be debating about whether to purchase travel insurance for their summer vacations. The Minnesota Department of Commerce wants consumers to know that travel insurance is not required to travel; however, it may benefit some consumers but not all.
"Travel insurance can alleviate some of the uncertainty of trip planning," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "Although I urge each traveler needs to weight their options to determine if it is appropriate for them and their family."
Travel insurance is used to protect against the loss of non-refundable travel costs, such as airfare, hotel and tour expenses. Some travel insurance policies offer limited protection against losses due to medical emergencies, damage to personal property, and even death.
Before you buy travel insurance, review the policies you have now. If you have life, health or homeowners insurance, you may not need to buy certain types of travel insurance. Read your policy and speak with your insurance company or agent to learn what personal property and medical coverage you have while you're traveling. Also ask what insurance benefits you may have if you use a credit card to pay for the trip.
Travel insurance may be a smart buy for some people. It can potentially save consumers money and provides some travelers a peace of mind. If you would like to purchase travel insurance, shop around. Consumers must be reminded that the quality and scope of any insurance coverage is usually determined by the fine print. For example, if you purchase travel insurance that supposedly reimburses you for unexpected trip cancelations, it may also include exemptions for the most common reasons you would want to cancel. Without digging into the specific, you may miss key terms and conditions about the actual coverage and exclusions.
Different types of traveler's insurance include:
Trip Cancellation/Delay/Interruption Insurance: Reimburses you for pre-paid travel expenses if you are unable to take your trip or it must be delayed or cut short in the event that you or a family member becomes ill or dies, or for other circumstances such as: flight delay/cancellation; bad weather; terrorism; fire or flood damage to your home; and other natural disasters.
Medical/Accidental Death Insurance: Reimburses you for medical and emergency dental expenses that you have because of an illness or injury while you are traveling. Other coverage options include emergency transportation to a hospital and for death or dismemberment depending on different transit modes.
Baggage/Rental Car Damage Insurance: Baggage loss coverage reimburses you for lost, stolen or damaged personal items. This usually doesn't cover personal items that may be lost or damaged by an airline. If you buy baggage insurance be sure to review the policy for the list of property that wouldn't be covered. Some of your property may exceed the limits allowed. Rental Car Damage coverage reimburses you for damage or loss to a rental vehicle. All Minnesota issued auto policies are required to provide rental car damage coverage under the Property damage Liability Coverage. With this coverage you may decline the "collision damage waiver" rental companies' offer. This coverage doesn't provide liability protection.
Beware of "opt-out" travel insurance: The Commerce Department took action earlier this year against travel websites that automatically signed up consumers for travel insurance coverage unless they affirmatively stated that they did not want it. This tactic is commonly referred to as requiring the consumer to "opt-out" and can cause rushed consumers to inadvertently buy optional products that they otherwise would not have selected. The Commerce Department reminds Minnesota consumers to remain vigilant when completing online travel purchases - especially when being offered travel insurance. Take the time to review each step of the transaction process and make sure you do not agree to buy a product that you do not want.
Go to the Minnesota Department of Commerce website for more information on travel insurance and the different types of plans that are offered. If you are having a problem with a company that sold you a travel insurance policy, contact the Department's consumer response team by calling: 651-296-2488 or 1-800-657-3602.