Read the fine print on your travel insurance!

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Read the fine print on your travel insurance!
Image Credit: John Spink/AJC
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When Barbara Christoff bought trip insurance on the two tickets she was giving her to daughter and granddaughter, she fully expected to get a refund if they had to actually use the policy.

While that was the eventual outcome, Christoff could have saved herself a lot of time and trouble if she’d known one thing…

Read more: 5 things to know when it looks like weather might change your travel plans

Know who is actually writing the travel insurance policy

According to CBS DFW, Christoff and her husband bought the tickets through Travelocity for $560 and paid $40 extra for the insurance on both tickets.

The Christoffs say they read the legal disclaimers about the policy that were printed in mouse-sized font, and that they believed they understood them–despite the dense verbiage.

‘When you click on the options and look at terms and condition there is a litany of legal terms,’ her husband said. ‘You get a lot of legal mumbo jumbo.’

As it turns out, their granddaughter had to be hospitalized before the trip and was unable to use the tickets with her mom. So Christoff sought a refund. Travelocity said it doesn’t issue refunds and had a very good reason why: Because the insurance was through a third party carrier who would issue the refund.

So instead of contacting Travelocity, the Christoffs actually needed to contact the third party insurer to begin the claims process. Once they did that, they received their refund as expected.

Yet clearly more transparency is needed in the travel insurance arena, particularly if you’re buying from a booking website like Travelocity, Orbitz or Expedia.

Travelocity recommends that if you don’t have time to read through the entire trip insurance document, at least read through the ‘Summary of Coverages’ section that will explain what the policy covers. 

Clark’s rules for buying travel insurance

When do you need it?

Travel insurance policies should always be purchased when you are taking a cruise, a tour or traveling on a trip that requires pre-payment of thousands of dollars.  

What kind of coverage does it offer?

Policies are designed to protect consumers by giving them refunds in the event of illness to the traveler or immediate family member, or to provide a refund in the case of company, tour operator or airline default.

How much does it cost?

Policies cost about 5% of total cost of a trip, but it’s worth it. Consumers should always purchase a policy independent of the cruise, tour or vacation planner. Never purchase the trip protection plan from the trip organizer. They are designed to protect only the company and not the consumer. Always pay deposits and final payments by a real credit card and never by debit card or check.

Where should you get it?

You can comparison shop for trip insurance that suits your needs at InsureMyTrip.com. Be sure to pay special attention to any exclusions!

Read more: 10 ways to survive holiday travel

New travel site could save you $600 on your next flight

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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