The Myth of Travel Insurance

Based on the fact that I have many trips on my calendar at any given time, I carry an annual travel insurance policy. Rather than a policy here and a policy there, I figure it is better to just carry an annual policy to cover everything. Even better, I carry the top of the line coverage to maximize my protection.. It’s called “executive-double-premium” or something like that. It costs me the tidy sum of about US$500 per year. Pretty smart of me, right?

When the corona virus outbreak forced a cancellation of my trip to China, my first thought was, “whew! I’m glad I have travel insurance!” When I described the situation to my friends and fellow travelers, the universal question I heard was, “…but you DO have travel insurance, right?” So I think we are all on the same page that travel insurance is a good idea when something like the corona virus wreaks havoc to travel plans.

You can probably already guess where this is going. About three weeks ago, I filed a claim for the unreimbursed expenses that I incurred for this trip. It turns out that many of my expenses were reimbursed due to the kindness of airlines, hotels, and trip operators. I know, it sounds funny to say, “kindness of airlines,” right? But such was the case. I was very happy that my airfare was reimbursed and many of the other expenses. Still, there were many hundreds of dollars that I could not get back. Not to worry, of course, I still could fall back on travel insurance. Wrong!

I filed my claim, selected all the reasons, attached all the documents, and waited for a check. It never came. Several days ago, I received an e-mail from the insurance company thanking me for their business and apologizing that my travel plans were interrupted. And then coldly telling me that my claim was denied. Seriously? How in the world could a cancelled trip due to a corona virus outbreak NOT be covered? But it’s not. Evidently, a “executive-double-premium” policy for US$500 each year only buys you a “named perils” policy. And, as it turns out, the corona virus is not one of the “named perils” and is therefore excluded. Payment denied! That is simply mind boggling to me. I promptly cancelled my policy and requested a refund for the remaining premium on my policy.

To be clear, I’m not an expert on travel insurance. So I read the coverage terms before I bought the policy. I researched this company and they were the top of the list on several websites that I read about travel insurance. Maybe I’m missing something, but if cancellation of a trip due to corona virus isn’t covered, I strongly question the value of travel insurance. If you know something I don’t, please help me understand. I know a lot of very experienced travelers out there and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Otherwise, my advice is to make sure you know what you’re getting when you buy travel insurance. Travel insurance may seem like a good idea, but it is certainly not the panacea I thought it was!

Here are three more images of the dunes from my Death Valley trip. Enjoy and good luck out there, travelers!


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