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Government travel policies causing vacation worries? Consider 'Cancel for Any Reason' travel insurance

Published March 3, 2017 11:24 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sometimes life gets in the way of a good vacation. Such things as a death in the family, an unexpected illness or even a terrorist attack can force last-minute changes or even a cancellation.

There are also times when something such as a natural disaster, a strike, a computer glitch or a plane cancellation might strand a traveler for several days, sometimes with no extra money saved for meals or a place to stay.

Many policies also include extra health insurance benefits in case there is an illness or accident while traveling overseas.

For these reasons, it's often good to purchase travel insurance. Policies can compensate a traveler for one of these emergencies under certain situations.

That said, it's always good to work through a good travel agent when booking a big trip and to ask a number of questions as to what the insurance is and isn't going to cover in the event of an emergency.

The fine print can sometimes mean the difference between several thousand dollars on a trip during an emergency or having to lose most if not all of it.

The travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth, for example, said that the concern of some tourists who have booked trips to Cuba is rising. The change in administrations could signal a change in U.S. policy toward the island that could cause travelers who have booked trips there grief.

American travel to Cuba increased by 148 percent last year after the Obama administration lifted previous travel bans.

So, if the Trump administration changes policies and begins to prohibit travel again, what happens to those who have booked trips and will their travel insurance cover it?

"Many travelers have been calling us with travel concerns due to U.S. relations with Cuba," said Jessica Harvey, Squaremouth customer service director. "In the event of a travel restriction, customers planning trips to Cuba will have limited cancellations options."

Again, it's a matter of the fine print in policies.

That's because, according to Squaremouth, standard trip cancellation policies do not cover any government imposed travel restrictions.

Squaremouth said that travelers who are contemplating buying a trip to Cuba should consider upgrading their travel insurance policy with a "Cancel for Any Reason" clause.

"If travel to Cuba is prohibited by the government, Cancel for Any Reason is the only benefit that can cover travelers to cancel their trips," Harvey said.

The bad news is that travelers who have already booked their trips likely can't purchase Cancel for Any Reason after the fact. Such policies are time sensitive and travelers must purchase their policy within 14 to 30 days of their first reservation or payment toward the trip.

The Cancel for Any Reason is an optional upgrade that allows a traveler to cancel for a reason that is not otherwise covered, including travel restrictions. Most policies reimburse up to 75 percent of prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses. The downside is that adding the benefit can increase a policy's premium by about 40 percent. Travelers will also be required to insure their entire trip cost and cancel their trip at least two days before they are scheduled to depart.

Like many insurance policies that cover all aspects of life and in some cases death, travel insurance is not cheap. It can add a few hundred dollars to the cost of a trip.

You hope you don't have to use it but are glad to have it if you need it.






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