Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possesses contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in a number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Trip Cancellation Travel Insurance

Looking for a trip cancellation only plan?

Stop looking. Trip cancellation only plans are not available. Neither are trip interruption only plans. All trip cancellation / interruption travel insurance plans are package plans that include some (or a lot more) medical, emergency evacuation, luggage, travel delay and other common coverages.

Here are the 2 parts of a trip cancellation travel insurance plan:

  • Trip cancellation coverage (before you leave on your trip): you, a close family member or a traveling companion gets hurt or sick before you leave (and your doctor advises you against traveling). Travel insurance reimburses you the money you lose. This is especially important if you’re concerned about a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Trip interruption coverage (after you leave on your trip): you, a close family member including a non-traveling family member, or a traveling companion gets hurt or sick while you’re on your trip and you have to return home early. Travel insurance reimburses you the unused value of your trip plus pays the cost of a one-way airfare up to its limit.

How does trip cancellation travel insurance work?

You book a cruise, tour or other trip that requires you to pay money up front. Sometime before the trip, the money you paid becomes all or partially nonrefundable. What I mean by nonrefundable is, that if you were to cancel your trip, you will not get any cash refunds.

How the trip cancellation benefit works:

Let’s say, you and your spouse paid $5,000 each for a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Two days before you’re supposed to leave you’re going out to get the mail and you get hit by a cement truck. In my examples, no one ever dies, but if you are hit by a cement truck I’m sure your doctor would advise you against traveling.

The fact that you cancel your trip just two days before you were supposed to leave, means that it’s highly unlikely you’re going to receive any refund on the $10,000 ($5,000 each) you paid for your trip. However, if you had bought a trip cancellation travel insurance plan some time in the days or weeks or months prior to being hit by a cement truck, and had insured your $5,000 per person trip cost, your trip cancellation travel insurance plan will reimburse you 100% of the money you lost on the trip, or in this case the full $10,000.

However, let’s say you only insured $3500 each of your $5,000 per person trip cost. In this case, the maximum amount of money you will receive from your trip cancellation travel insurance plan is $7,000 ($3,500 each), which is the maximum cost you had insured.

How the trip interruption benefit works:

You get to South America safely and this time, your brother-in-law (whom you’ve never really cared for), is going out to get the mail and he gets hit by a cement truck. Even though you’re sure he deserved it, out of respect you and your spouse cut your trip short and return home early.

Returning home means your interrupted trip will have some unused value as will your return plane tickets. Plus, you’ll have to buy an expensive one-way last minute ticket home.

For the purposes of this example, your unused trip will be worth $3,000 for each of you. If you had insured your full $5,000 per person trip cost, your trip cancellation travel insurance plan will reimburse you up to $5,000 (and on some plans, a maximum of $7,500) of the money you lost on the trip plus the cost of the one-way last minute ticket home.

The maximum reimbursement depends on the percentage of trip cost you plan covers for trip interruption. Some plans state it as 100% of the trip cost, while others cover as much as 150% of the trip cost.

I hope this makes sense to you. If not, post a comment here or contact me and I’ll do my best to help you understand trip cancellation travel insurance.

Travel Insurance For Pre Existing Medical Conditions – How To Find

There are a few reasons why a person might feel uneasy about applying for travel insurance. Being classed as a senior citizen is one, and having a pre-existing condition is another. Insurance for the elderly is less of a problem than it used to be, but travel insurance for pre existing medical conditions can be particularly tricky sometimes, and there are a few things you should consider when thinking about looking for a suitable package.

The first thing to remember is not to be discouraged. Although securing this type of insurance deal can sometimes be a little more frustrating than normal, and although you may have to go through multiple insurers to find one that is suitable, it is still the case that you will always be able to find a suitable plan if you keep looking. You may not find something ideal immediately, but people are getting similar insurance despite their existing conditions all the time, and you just need to keep looking. It may not even take you very long. There is no need to think about cancelling a holiday or giving up entirely just because your health has dealt you a poor hand.

One thing to take care of immediately is that you get yourself an EHIC, or European Health Insurance Card, if you are planning on visiting Europe on your travels. This card essentially allows you to be certain that you are eligible to receive suitable medical care while in any European country. This is particularly important when considering those medical procedures that might cost a great deal of money and be beyond your ability to pay for up-front. It is always important to be suitably covered by a medical policy in these cases.

However, merely having this card does not by any means absolve you of needing to get proper travel insurance as well. Thankfully, so long as you are fully honest and up-front with your insurer about your medical conditions, you are quite likely to be able to get a suitable plan without too much hassle. There are often plans already in place for people with various allergies or conditions such as epilepsy or asthma. If not, the same insurers will likely be able to add these provisions to your current medical insurance for a little extra, and you might be surprised at how little extra it will cost – the potential cost to the insurers is not usually that high, after all, compared to their daily throughput.

You can certainly start your search for suitable insurance online, and you can probably manage to learn something about the existing plans for people who need travel insurance for pre existing medical conditions that are offered by various companies. However, it is still very important that you talk personally with a representative of the company to make sure that you are covered. All conditions are slightly different, after all, and so it is vital that your insurers are fully informed if you want to get the best deal possible.

6 Little Known Airline Travel Secrets

Travel Secret #1 – Immediate Help For A Cancelled Flight

As discussed in my previous article, if you find yourself in a situation where your flight is cancelled or delayed, don’t get in line, get on the phone. There’s a short window of time available to get in there and secure the best seat or a seat to your destination while this new variable (the canceled or delayed flight) is being absorbed by the airline’s scheduling system. In my experience, if you wait more than 5 or 10 minutes, many of the available resources have been secured by those at the front of the line. If you are within the first 5 people to the counter, you’re likely in good shape but otherwise, get on the phone. The agent that you speak with at on the other end of the phone can probably do everything that the desk agents can – and you’ll typically find them friendly and happy to help!

Travel Secret #2 – A very Relaxing Ride Home

Here’s a great tip for business travelers headed home on the last day of your travels. This is especially helpful if it’s been a long day which usually is the case! After you’ve checked in at the airport, slip into the rest room and put on a fresh pair of socks. Your feet will thank you and you’ll definitely remember how great it felt! I take it even further – when I’m at the hotel packing my suitcase in the morning, I always make sure a pair of jeans, socks and my running shoes are easily accessible. This is important when changing in the cramped quarters of a bathroom stall!

Travel Tip #3 – Airport Etiquette

There is absolutely nothing wrong with brushing your teeth in the restroom at the airport! When I first saw someone doing this, my initial instinct was, “Hey, that’s not right!” – but it so very much is. There’s nothing wrong with it and your dentist and fellow travelers will appreciate it!

Travel Secret #4 – Prevent Your Bag From Being “Gate Checked”

This tip has a much higher success rate if you’re seated up front (“Upfront” if you don’t already know, is airline-speak for “first class”.) If you are late to board because on your first flight you weren’t able to take advantage of Essential Travel Tip #5 or #6, and there is no more overhead space, get the attention of a flight attendant and in your most gracious, humble, and appreciative tone, ask if there is any way, they could possibly stow (“stow” – key word – indicates you fly a lot) your bag in “the closet”. Make sure you ask softly as this is kind of a secret request and secret potential favor – there is not room in “the closet” for everyone’s bag. You won’t believe it the first time you have one flight attendant tell you there is no space and your bag must be “gate checked” (read: an extra 45 minute delay after you land) and then you manage to have a different flight attendant stow it in the closet for you – It WILL happen.

Travel Secret #5 – Breeze Through Security

When I enter the TSA line to go through security, I temporarily stow my mobile phone, change, and anything else that might set off the detector in my laptop bag. I’m always amazed at the number of travelers who fumble around and put all of this stuff in the plastic bin or bowl to be scanned separately – and then have one more thing to retrieve on the other side. It’s simpler and more secure to just put this stuff away before you get up there!

Travel Secret #6 – How To Sit in the Front Row Of Coach – Regardless Of Your Seat Assignment

I cannot believe I’m divulging one of the greatest travel secrets of them all and one that works with an unbelievably high success rate. Typically, all airlines hold the first row of coach (referred to as “the bulkhead”) by not assigning this space during normal seat selection. They typically “release” the bulkhead only at the gate (not at the airline counter) which is during the hour before your flight time. I don’t know the exact policy reason they do this but it makes sense to have a space to put a child or handicapped passenger or maybe an airline employee at the last minute – in a seat with easy access on and off the plane. For frequent travelers, the front row in coach is key real estate mainly because from there, you can potentially be in your car headed home (or making your next connection) well before those travelers sitting further back have “deplaned.”

Here’s how it works: If you have a lousy seat, go to the counter and ask if there is a seat closer to the front and – in your most gracious, humble, and appreciative tone, ask if they have “released the bulkhead” by any chance. I literally have a higher than 50% success rate with this – it’s ridiculous. I’ll show up to board a full flight on a 767 with a lousy seat assignment and find myself in the front row of coach, aisle seat, with my feet in first class – happens all the time and it will for you too!