Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Should I Purchase Travel Insurance?

This is a question that we hear time and time again, and our simplest response is yes. Like most insurance policies, the amount of coverage that you receive is directly proportional to the amount of money that you pay for the policy. You can add as many extras as you like. Some comprehensive policies cover everything from rental cars and missed connections to medical evacuations and tour cancellations. We recommend travel insurance for a number of reasons, but unexpected tour cancellation tops our list.

A number of years ago a gentleman asked me if I recommended insurance. I said that I did, and he wanted to know why. I explained that sometimes we just cannot refund money for unused portions of a trip, say, if a guest had to leave prematurely for an emergency. The gentleman informed me that he was in good health, he had a good job, and he didn’t plan on canceling his hike for any reason. I honored his response.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of the story. Our guest experienced a family emergency that he never could have anticipated, and he had to leave his hiking tour on day 2 of a 10-day itinerary.

Here’s the rub. Once we’ve committed money to our hotels and contacts overseas, we become another link in what quickly becomes a long refund chain. Our policy is to work with our guests whenever we can, but once the tour starts, we are very limited because we’ve already paid money for goods and services. This puts us in a very undesirable position when one of our guests requests a refund for something that was out of both parties’ control. The gentleman would have received a full refund even if he had purchased the bare minimum amount of travel insurance. Cancellation insurance covers tour interruption due to preexisting medical conditions, employment lay-offs and/or transfers, family emergencies and more.

Travel insurance also covers you in case WE have an emergency and have to cancel your tour, and it covers you in case we go out of business. We’ve been somewhat aggressive in the past about recommending cancellation insurance, and some people wondered if this was the reason. The honest fact is that we’ve been around for 25 years, and we owe our success to our commitment to your guest experience. We would never cancel a tour without speaking with our guests first and making sure that they’re taken care of. Leaving someone in a bind is bad for business. As for going out of business, well, we’re still waiting for bailout money. Kidding. We don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, but we DO plan on hiking with our guests for many years to come. Travel Insurance, even it only covers unexpected cancellations, puts both parties’ minds at ease.

We work with an insurance company called TravelEx, and they’ve treated our guests well. Please visit their website for a look at their different policies.

No comments: