New York (August 28, 2017) — More Americans are realizing that the cost of a medical emergency while traveling abroad can be devastating, as can interrupted travel plans due to a natural disaster. Even a canceled domestic flight could put a major dent in one’s wallet if it means shelling out for extra days at a hotel, missing the start of a cruise vacation for a honeymoon, or finding an alternate way home. Travel insurance is a lifesaver that can help alleviate costs from unexpected delays or unforeseen medical emergencies, say travel agents with Travel Leaders, America’s largest retail travel agency brand with thousands of travel agents across the United States. In fact, purchases of travel insurance plans by U.S. travelers are up by more than 28.5 percent since 2014, according to a U.S. Travel Insurance Association study released last month.
“Although a higher percentage of people are opting for travel insurance than in the years past, the unfortunate aspect is that still not enough travelers are choosing to do so either because they are not sure of their options or they are under the impression that their credit card company or their health insurance will provide all of the coverage they need in the event of cancellations or a medical event. The other products don’t cover as much as one may think,” said Roger E. Block, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network. “However, those who opt for travel insurance can select from many different plans including ones that offer trip cancellation and interruption benefits, which account for more than 87% of the travel protection products purchased in 2016.”
Travel Leaders travel agents, who can explain the added benefits of travel insurance policies to clients, say the ultimate selling factor for those who purchase the added protection are anecdotes of how travel insurance saved the day for others. Here are some real-world examples:
- When Your Boss Cancels Your Vacation. “I had a client who booked a really nice trip to Jamaica, costing over $6,000, including the resort stay. It was a last minute trip, close to departure date, so any cancellations would result in full penalty. He added travel insurance and it turned out he had to cancel due to work reasons, as his boss denied his time off. Without insurance, he would have been out the cost of the trip, but because of the insurance he was covered,” said Mandy Kusilek, of Travel Leaders in River Falls, Wisconsin.
- Doctor’s Orders to Stay Home. “A couple booked a beautiful, non-refundable itinerary to Paris, Zurich and Italy, including air, rail tickets, hotel packages, and tour,” said Carrie Zervas of the Travel Leaders in Palm Harbor, Florida. “Two days before their international departure, the gentleman consumed a shellfish entrée and started experiencing intestinal problems that sent him to the hospital. Ultimately, he was diagnosed by his physician with food poisoning and ordered on bed rest from the extreme dehydration and exhaustion. He was unable to travel. Travel insurance reimbursed my clients for nearly the entire amount of their out-of-pocket expenses.”
- International Medical Emergency. “On the third day of a 3-night meeting in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I woke up very sick. My travel insurance got me admitted to the best hospital, where doctors found I had a blood clot in my lower intestine and needed surgery immediately,” said Cindy Tyo of Travel Leaders in Fargo, North Dakota. “After surgery, my surgeon said: ‘You will not be flying home for another seven days.’ Travel insurance reimbursed me for the rest of my stay, for the international phone calls I made, and flew me home first class. They even covered the expenses of a friend who stayed with me, inclusive of the new clothes she had to buy since we originally were only supposed to be there for a three-night trip.”
- Weather Conditions. “My clients were traveling to Mexico with extended family members and purchased travel protection. Their return flight to Vermont was 20 minutes from landing in Burlington when it was turned back to Newark as the airport in Burlington closed. Due to the weather on the East Coast, they were forced to spend two nights in New York without any warm clothing. The insurance covered the additional costs for the hotels, meals and sweatshirts for all of them,” said Cindy Sanborn of Travel Leaders in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
- On Second Thought. “We had a couple come into the office for a Hawaii cruise vacation. During the process of confirming their package, they were hesitant to buy travel insurance. They asked ‘What could possibly occur in the next 60 days before we leave?’ said Tamela Sikorski Morrison with Travel Leaders in Sun Lake, Arizona. “The next morning they decided to purchase travel insurance. Then, 55 days later, I received a call that they needed to cancel. Just five days prior to their cruise departure, my client had a bicycle accident that resulted in a broken pelvis and required surgery. She is looking at 6 to 8 weeks of physical therapy after recovery. They would have lost $5,400 of their trip cost had they not secured protection.”
- Helicopter Transfers. “A client, who had vacation protection, slipped and fell in the shower and broke her hip. This happened on a cruise ship while it was docked in Belize,” said Judi Tarpley of Travel Leaders in Marietta, Georgia. “The ship had her transferred to a helicopter in Belize; the helicopter took her straight to a hospital heli-pad in Atlanta. She had surgery that evening and never paid a penny, out of pocket, and never received any bills or invoices, for any of the travel or medical expenses that occurred prior to arriving at the hospital back her. Her expenses were covered due to her travel insurance.”
- Stepped Up Coverage. “I had a client who had a heart attack in South Africa while on a tour. She was rushed to the hospital, had several surgeries, and then after three weeks had to be sent home first class in a lie flat seat,” said Lori Wentworth of Travel Leaders in Great Mills, Maryland. “The client did not buy the insurance in time to make the deadline to have primary coverage but the travel insurance company stepped up her coverage anyway, paid for the bulk of her hospital up front, arranged with the hospital for a payment plan for the client, and paid for her friend’s extended hotel stay, meals and first class flight.”
“There are different types of travel insurance plans to cover different aspects of a trip or different reasons for the change of plans – including ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage,” added Block. “Travel insurance is a fraction of the cost of one’s trip, and can save individuals hundreds or thousands of dollars. Plus, travelers and their loved ones have peace of mind knowing that if any unforeseen event takes place, they have an important safety net.”
“Travel Better” with Travel Leaders. TravelLeaders.com features extensive profiles of travel agents who specialize destinations around the world and can advise travelers on the perfect vacation, domestically or internationally. To find a qualified travel agent or to find the nearest Travel Leaders location, visit TravelLeaders.com or call 800-335-TRIP (8747). #iTravel Better with @TravelLeaders.
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About Travel Leaders Network
Travel Leaders Network assists millions of leisure and business travelers, annually, and is the largest seller of luxury travel, cruises, river cruises and tours in the travel agency industry. Led by flagship Travel Leaders-branded travel agencies (www.travelleaders.com), the network includes 6,800 Associates and Member travel agencies locations in the United States and Canada and represents more than $17 billion in annual sales volume. Travel Leaders Network’s award-winning Agent Profiler agent-locator, marketing, technology, supplier partnerships and educational programs are designed around our travel agents’ commitment to our vacation and business travel clients in providing a progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Network is a Travel Leaders Group LLC company.