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Tips & Advice for the Seasoned and Armchair Traveler Alike! 

June 10, 2008 

Smart travelers tend to follow the old Boy Scout motto: Be 

They make lists and double check them. They do extensive 
Internet research. They run dozens of "what if" scenarios 
through their heads and plan accordingly.

But every once and a while something unforeseen happens. 
When that occurs, what's the best thing to do? 

Be prepared.

This week's topics include:




P.S. If you're interested you can now post comments on this 
and recent issues on our forum at... Travel Tips Forum 


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Insurance rarely makes travelers' checklists. But if you 
lose your luggage, get sick overseas, find yourself in the 
path of a hurricane or smash a rental car, it suddenly 
becomes a hot topic of conversation.

Frommer's last year published a primer on travel insurance 
that still holds true today. It was useful in putting 
together the following list of tips for handling the 
minefield of travel insurance:

* Don’t buy what you don't need

Check your existing insurance policies before you buy travel 
insurance to cover trip cancellation, lost luggage, medical 
expenses, or car rental insurance. You're likely to have 
partial or complete coverage. 

Most health insurance policies, for example, cover you if 
you get sick away from home and need medical treatment, or 
even hospital care. But not all do - particularly if an HMO 
insures you or you depend on Medicare or Medicaid.

Most out-of-country hospitals make you pay your bills up 
front, and send you a refund after you've returned home and 
filed the necessary paperwork. In many cases, you pay the 
foreign hospital, then try to collect from your provider 
when you return home. This means you need to have a major 
credit card with a LOT of room on it.

* Charge it

Some credit cards offer automatic flight insurance against 
death or dismemberment in case of an airplane crash if you 
charged the cost of your ticket to the card. That's good, 
but read the fine print. It may have big exceptions to the 
events it covers, may cover only one person even if multiple 
tickets were purchased, and may require you to sign up in 
advance for a particular program.

* Shop around

The cost of travel insurance varies widely, depending on a 
number of variables. These include the company doing the 
insuring, the cost and length of your trip, your age and 
overall health, and the type of trip you're taking. 

Insurance for extreme sports or adventure travel, for 
example, will cost more than coverage for a cruise. Expect 
to pay more. People over the age of 70 have greater health 
risks than travelers in their 30s. Expect to pay more. And 
folks traveling to unstable, developing nations are more at 
risk than people going to someplace like Canada. Expect to 
pay more.

Keep in mind that the very reasons the insurance quotes go 
up are also reasons why it's probably good you're looking at 
travel insurance in the first place. 

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* Know your trip cancellations

There are three major types of trip-cancellation insurance. 
The first type covers situations in which you pre-pay for a 
cruise or tour that gets cancelled, and you can't get your 
money back. The second is when you or someone in your family 
gets sick or dies, and you can't travel. The third is when 
bad weather or other disasters makes travel impossible. 

How much relevance each of these has to you depends on your 
personal situation. Some insurers try to overwhelm you with 
an impressive list of things they cover - like jury duty or 
job loss - that may have very little to do with your trip. 
In many cases they're trying to get you to skip a careful 
reading of the fine print or miss holes in their coverage of 
the problems you’re most likely to face.

* Check the fine print BEFORE signing on.

The time to break out the magnifying glass and begin 
deciphering the tiny-type legalese is not when you're far 
away from home coping with a disaster. It's before you make 
your decision.

* Avoid conflicts of interest.

Don't buy trip-cancellation insurance from the tour operator 
that may be responsible for the cancellation. Don't buy it 
from the airline that might screw up your flight.

It's important you get insurance from a third party that has 
no stake in protecting your travel provider's butt. This 
does not, however, mean going to anyone other than a 
reputable insurance agency - preferably one that specializes 
in travel insurance. 

* Don't overbuy. 

It's basic market economics: They're going to try to sell 
you as big a policy as they can. The premium, however, can 
often get so high that the policy makes no sense.  Keep in 
mind that you won't be reimbursed for more than the cost of 
your trip.

* Heed travel advisories

Under U.S. law, insurance companies are not required to 
cover any medical expenses incurred in countries on the 
State Department's travel advisory list, even if their 
policies indicate they will cover out-of-country medical 
expenses. Some supplemental carriers will sell travelers 
coverage for these areas, but brace yourself for sticker 

You can view the Travel Advisory List at 

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* Weigh the need for luggage insurance

On domestic flights, checked baggage is covered up to $2,500 
per ticketed passenger. On international flights, including 
U.S. portions of international trips, baggage is limited to 
a little more than $9 per pound, up to approximately $635 
per checked bag. If you plan to check items more valuable 
than the standard liability, you may want to buy additional 

The best insurance is to keep your most valuable stuff with 
you at all times. Be sure to put any expensive or 
irreplaceable items with you in your carry-on luggage. 

Lost luggage may also be covered by your homeowner's or 
renter's policy. Many platinum and gold credit cards cover 
you as well. If you choose to purchase additional lost-
luggage insurance, be sure not to buy more than you need. 

* Know your belongings

If you file a lost luggage claim, be prepared to answer 
detailed questions about the contents of your baggage. 
Before you leave home, compile an inventory of all packed 
items and a rough estimate of the total value to ensure 
you're properly compensated if your luggage is lost. You 
will only be reimbursed for what you lost, no more.

* Be a fast filer

Be sure to file a claim immediately, as most airlines 
enforce a 21-day deadline.  Once you've filed a complaint, 
persist in securing your reimbursement: There are no laws 
governing the length of time it takes for a carrier to 
reimburse you.

* If you hold a private auto insurance policy, you probably 
are covered in the U.S., but not abroad, for loss or damage 
to the car, and liability in case a passenger is injured. 
The credit card you used to rent the card also may provide 
some coverage.

Well, that's it for this week, group. Thanks again for 
reading, and please keep those comments, complaints and 
questions coming in. 

You can send me an e-mail message at: Email Pierce

Until next week, thanks for reading.   

Your Tipmeister,   



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