How Travel Insurance Helps With Little Mishaps
Travel insurance is a good safeguard against very serious trip problems like medical emergencies. But your travel insurance policy may also include benefits for little mishaps.
“Travel insurance isn’t just for catastrophes. It can help with those annoying inconveniences that aren’t the end of the world but can slow the momentum of your travels,” says Christina Tunnah, a spokesperson for World Nomads.
Here’s how you can use travel insurance to assist with minor inconveniences while you are on a trip.
Waiting at the luggage carousel when you arrive is usually not a harrowing experience—unless your bags never come around.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of arriving at a destination only to find out that your suitcase hasn’t landed on the carousel,” says Tunnah. Travel insurance can help by reimbursing the cost of basic necessities—such as an extra change of clothes, a toothbrush, meals and snacks—while you’re waiting for your stuff to be located. This benefit usually falls under the “baggage delay” section of your policy.
If your baggage is permanently lost, you can file a claim for the value of your bag and the belongings in it. This falls under baggage and personal effects loss coverage.
“After an initial claim with your common carrier, you could recover the depreciated value of your things, up to a per item and total maximum,” Tunnah says. You are generally required to have receipts of your items to prove ownership and the items’ value.
Note that travel insurance typically pays the lesser of a) the actual cash value of an item, which is the purchase price minus depreciation or b) the repair or the replacement cost, says Tunnah. For example, “The luggage that I bought 10 years ago, which I’ve taken with me on 25 trips, is not in as good a shape as when I originally purchased it and the actual cash value would take that into consideration,” she says.
In addition to problems with checked luggage, travel insurance can help when other belongings are damaged, lost or stolen. Tunnah says common examples include:
- Losing your backpack or your train ticket
- Dropping your passport in a pool
- Having your phone stolen
Although travel insurance won’t cover cash or credit cards (call your credit card company if you lose your card), she says your insurance can support you in either getting replacements or reimbursements for these things, provided that you’ve taken reasonable care of them.
“If your things do get stolen, don’t forget to file a report with the police or other authorities. You’ll need to submit the report as proof for your claim,” Tunnah advises.
Also be aware that there may be limits on these types of travel insurance claims. “If you’re carrying an expensive laptop or professional camera equipment, don’t expect to recoup the entire amount,” says Suzanne Morrow, a spokesperson for InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance comparison provider. “Every policy is a bit different when it comes to a specific amount they will cover for any one item. Keep an eye out for the per-article limit—it might be around $200 per article.”
Bad weather is the cause of many travel misfortunes.
If inclement weather causes only a hiccup in your travels, you could get benefits under the trip delay section of your policy. Typically this includes the cost of hotels, meals and other incidentals that you’ve had pay for because of a delay of a certain number of hours, Tunnah says.
“If you miss a connecting flight because of a weather delay, you could receive trip delay or trip interruption benefits, depending on your case,” says Tunnah. If you have to stop your trip completely, your trip interruption coverage could pay for a one-way ticket home and reimburse you for any nonrefundable, prepaid expenses for the parts of the trip that you didn’t get to experience.
Use the Services Provided With Your Travel Insurance Plan
You may not realize that your policy comes with a 24-hour travel assistance hotline to help with vacation problems. “They can help you manage any type of mishap, whether it’s tracking missing baggage, getting you directions to the nearest consulate, rescheduling a flight, or booking a last-minute hotel room when you have an unexpected stopover,” says Tunnah.
Know About Helpful Travel Insurance Offerings
Your travel insurance plan might have some special perks. For example, some Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP) plans pay immediate benefits for travel inconveniences such as a flight delay, missed connection, tarmac delay or baggage delay.
“Travelers who purchase BHTP’s ExactCare Extra plan can get an immediate, fixed electronic payment directly to them when a qualified delay happens, giving the traveler the claim payment while still on their trip,” says Carol Mueller, a spokesperson for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. This is quite helpful when you need money quickly.
World Nomads can help with telephone interpretation if you are experiencing a language barrier. Whether you need to speak to a local travel agent or a pharmacist, World Nomad’s team can help bridge communications gaps, says Tunnah. If you need guidance in a more rare language or have more complex translation needs, their team can refer you to local translators.