American Couple in Nepal Learns the Value of Travel Insurance

Flying Helicopter Medical Evacuation

The earthquake in Nepal this April was devastating, and sad stories continue to surface.  For an American couple traveling in Nepal, their story has a happy ending, but not without adversity.  They did not have travel insurance for their trip.  During the five days they were stranded, they watched multiple helicopters evacuate people with travel insurance, while the couple waited until the U.S. Special Forces arrived for them.  Chris Pleasance wrote about the couple’s experience for DailyMail.com.

“‘There were a lot of tears and frustration during the hours after they left. I couldn’t believe they would just leave us there.’

Over the next two days, another four helicopters landed, this time taking groups of Israeli travelers away. It was then that Miss Hoffman learned they were being sent by private companies.

She added: ‘Eventually one pilot agreed to take the man with the broken arm, but the rest of us were just left behind.’

It was only after five days that a group of U.S. Special Forces, who had been in Nepal for high altitude training, were able to get to the group and take Miss Hoffman and her boyfriend away.”

It is difficult to imagine what this couple experienced, but knowing they arrived home safely is a comforting thought.  Their story reminds all travelers how important having travel insurance can be.  There is value in being able to contact a 24/7 emergency assistance number from anywhere in the world and knowing your evacuation is being coordinated.  It is a blessing that the U.S. Special Forces were available in Nepal, but world travelers should not expect that to always be the case.

Upcoming Trips to Nepal

The economy of Nepal is heavily dependent on tourism.  In the wake of this natural disaster, tourism in Nepal is more important than ever.  For those with upcoming trips to Nepal, consider keeping your plans, but adjusting your expectations.  The Asian nation could greatly benefit from a resurgent tourism industry over the next months.

Trip Mate is a proud sponsor of Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization dedicated to philanthropy through travel.  The Tourism Cares Nepal Recovery Fund was established to assist in the long term economic recovery of Nepal.  The first year of recovery will be critical for their tourism industry.

Some travelers will prefer to cancel their trip to Nepal.  The standard Trip Cancellation benefit offers some coverage for natural disasters, such as the accommodations made uninhabitable.  However, someone concerned their vacation wouldn’t be as enjoyable now would need a policy with Cancel For Any Reason coverage.  This allows a traveler to choose whether to cancel the trip without having to explain the reason why.

Please contact MH Ross with any questions. Agents are available 24/7 and are happy to help.

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Hurricane Season Guide for Travel Insurance

Hurricane near Florida

Hurricane season is upon us, officially spanning from June 1st – November 30th, and vacationers are wise to factor this into their travel plans.  Researching the destination and weather projections are good ideas, but the unpredictability of storms makes travel insurance a must-have for summer travel.  While many travel insurance plans are similar, they are not all the same.  To find a travel insurance policy that may fit your needs, review the most important coverage benefits for hurricane season, and consider what specific scenarios are the highest priority for you to have covered.

When shopping for hurricane travel insurance, look for the following coverage benefits:

  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption: Cancellation is before the trip begins and interruption is once you’ve already departed. These can reimburse the unused expenses of the trip that were pre-paid and not refunded.  Trip Interruption can also reimburse additional transportation costs to return home earlier than planned.  Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption have a list of covered reasons; one of these would have to happen in order for coverage apply.  The covered reasons involving hurricanes are addressed in the common scenarios below.
  • Missed Connection: If your common carrier is delayed for 3 hours, this benefit can reimburse additional transportation expenses to catch up to the trip, meal and accommodation expenses during the delay, and the unused non-refundable trip payments that were pre-paid. A common carrier can include flights, trains, buses and cruise ships.
  • Trip Delay: If your common carrier is delayed for 6 hours, this benefit can reimburse for meals and lodging during the delay.
  • Cancel For Any Reason: This is the catch-all category that allows you to cancel the trip without explaining why and still be reimbursed 75% of the trip cost.  There are some requirements for this coverage benefit.  To qualify, the policy must be purchased within 15 days of the initial trip deposit date and 100% of the trip cost must be insured.  To use the coverage, the trip must be canceled at least 2 days before the trip begins.

Though it seems some of these coverage benefits overlap, in any situation you would claim whichever categories worked the most in your favor.  Consider these commonly asked about scenarios for hurricane season:

  • Flight delay: Depending on the duration of the delay, multiple coverages could apply. Missed Connection requires a 3 hour delay, Trip Delay requires a 6 hour delay, and Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption require a 12 hour delay.  Depending on the scenario, one could claim a meal expense after the 3rd hour under Missed Connection, another meal with hotel after the 6th hour using Trip Delay, and ultimately cut the trip short after the 12th hour of the delay under Trip Interruption.
  • Hurricane warning: A hurricane warning for the destination from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can be a covered reason for Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption. For this coverage to apply, the policy would need to be purchased at least 14 days prior to the warning, and the warning must be issued within 24 hours of the trip departure date.
  • Mandatory evacuation: Local authorities at the destination issuing a mandatory evacuation can be a covered reason for Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption, depending on how much of the trip remains at the end of the evacuation. When the evacuation order is lifted, if there is less than half of the trip reimagining, or 4 days or less remaining, whichever works in your favor, then coverage can apply.  If there is more than half and more than 4 days remaining on the trip, the evacuation is not covered by the standard Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption benefit.
  • Road closings: For those driving to the destination, a severe storm causing a route closing can result in unplanned expenses. Trip Delay can reimburse for a hotel and food if there is a road closing verified by the National Weather Service and Department of Transportation.
  • Damage at the destination: Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Coverage can reimburse you if the accommodations where you are booked to stay are rendered uninhabitable. It is important to note that this is specific to the lodging and doesn’t necessarily include damage to the general area.  In order to cancel because some businesses aren’t open, beach erosion, or general loss of enjoyment, please make sure to select a policy with Cancel For Any Reason coverage.
  • Don’t want to risk it: Most travel insurance coverage requires that storm impact your trip for benefits to apply. However, many travelers who see a storm’s projected path will want to cancel regardless if flights are delayed or if the storm makes landfall.  The only way to cover cancelling the trip because of fear or choice is a policy with Cancel For Any Reason  This lets travelers decide that they don’t want to risk it and still recoup some of their trip expenses

It is important to note, a travel insurance plan must be effective before a storm is named in order for coverage to be available for that storm.

The best way to plan a trip during hurricane season is to understand the possible risks and how you can be covered.  There are many common situations covered by the standard travel insurance benefits, but these do not cover fear of what a storm may do, or choosing not to risk it.  The only way for travelers to have control over the decision of whether to travel or cancel is a policy with Cancel For Any Reason coverage.

MH Ross agents are happy to discuss your specific needs and answer all of your questions over the phone, 24 hours per day.  Please contact us to learn more about hurricane coverage in travel insurance to help protect your summer vacation.

 

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Travelers’ Luck is a Dud, Plane Stuck in the Mud

Frequent fliers are familiar with a variety of airline delays:  crews missing flights, mechanical issues, bad weather, etc.  Travel insurance is a staple for savvy travelers used to these types of common carrier issues.  However, not many travelers are expecting a flight delay because their plane got stuck in the mud.

That is exactly what happened to American Airlines passengers in Missouri this week.  Donald Wood on Travel Pulse wrote about flight cancellations after a plane got stuck.

“While all passengers and crew members were able to leave the stranded plane without any injuries, the proximity of the aircraft to the main runway was close enough to warrant flight cancellations through Tuesday morning.”

Delayed Flights

This type of unusual delay is a shining example of how travel insurance can help protect against the unexpected.  Travel Delay coverage can reimburse for a hotel and food during a delay.  If the delay has a domino effect on connecting flights, Missed Connection coverage can reimburse additional transportation costs to catch up to the trip as well as unused land and water arrangements that aren’t refunded.  Each plan will require the delay last for set number of hours for coverage to apply, and will have a dollar limit of coverage.  Always refer to your specific plan certificate for coverage details.

Coverage language for these benefits is usually very broad to include all common carrier caused delays, even when the airline proves to be… eh em… “a stick in the mud.”

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Sometimes Travel Insurance Is Mandatory

Holding a suitcase by the handle.

Travel insurance is something many travelers consider, whether working with an agent or booking a trip on their own.  Often, this is a choice and not a requirement.  However, as Peter Greenberg wrote on petergreenberg.com, there are some countries that require medical travel insurance:

“Medical coverage when you travel is one of those things you don’t miss until you absolutely need it. But sometimes, it’s not just a good idea…it’s actually mandatory.”

“If you’re applying for a visa to Russia, you may be asked to supply proof of medical travel insurance that’s valid in that country.”

Having travel medical insurance when traveling abroad is a sound idea anyway, as many domestic health insurance plans don’t cover internationally. MH Ross travel insurance plans include emergency medical coverage that can pick up expenses not covered by their health insurance, including deductibles and copayments.  Medical evacuation coverage is also included, something that is often omitted from traditional health insurance plans.

Make sure to research your destination thoroughly before making a decision.  If a destination requires tourists to have medical coverage, there is usually a specified amount of coverage required.  Knowing what is required will help you find the best value for travel insurance.

Our agents are happy to help find the right travel insurance plan for you, 24 hours a day.  Please call us at 800-423-3632 for assistance with a quote, or with any questions.

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How To Pack and Protect Your Electronics

How to Pack Your Electronics | MHRoss.com

Electronics are essential items to add to your packing list. From laptops to tablets and everything in between, these items keep you entertained and help you capture extraordinary moments during your travels. Here’s how you should pack each of your valuable electronics and an extra tip on how travel insurance can help:

Laptop
Laptops are great for blogging, keeping in touch with friends and family back home, entertainment, and organizing your travels. To make sure your laptop is protected, keep it in a case inside your carry-on. We love these Case Logic sleeves, which make it easy to transfer your laptop between bags. If you’re traveling with small children, consider getting a diaper bag which doubles as a messenger bag – like this one from Timbuk2.

Tablet
If a laptop would weigh you down too much, a tablet is a good alternative. Tablets serve as a more compact way to access the Internet, keep you entertained, and keep in touch with friends and family. Make sure your tablet is in a case too. OtterBox has covers for both Kindles and iPads that stand up so you can watch movies or read easily.

Chargers
Chargers are a necessity when it comes to electronics, but their cords can get easily tangled in your luggage. You can avoid this annoyance by keeping your chargers and small electronics in a small pouch. If you wrap these gear ties around each charger, you’re sure to stay tangle-free. Portable battery chargers are also helpful while traveling, and you won’t have to worry about tangled cords.

Camera
Whether you’re packing a sophisticated DSLR camera or a point and shoot, it’s important to keep your camera protected. This Lowepro camera bag provides good protection and won’t take up too much space in your luggage. Also make sure to include a lens cloth so you can clean off any dirt or grime your camera collects during your travels.

Added Protection
Travel insurance can provide coverage to protect you and your electronics against theft, baggage delay and other unforeseeable mishaps. Consider including the optional Extended Personal Property Pac, which provides coverage up to $1,000 after a $100 deductible for personal computer and cell phones.

Do you have helpful tips for traveling with electronics? Sound off below with your advice.

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Tourism in Nepal More Important Than Ever

MH Ross Logo

Tourism Cares Logo

The earthquake in Nepal has been devastating.  Loss of life and property has been extreme, and the situation is ongoing.

Relief and aid during such an emergency is critical.  Those traveling and in need of help should contact their travel insurance 24 hour emergency assistance number.  Emergency assistance can help coordinate evacuations, medical treatment, and other travel related services.

Emergency relief is essential now, but the recovery of Nepal’s economy is also important.  Trip Mate and Tourism Cares emphasize Nepal’s long term healing in the article Tourism in Nepal More Important Than Ever.

Trip Mate is a strategic partner with Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization dedicated to philanthropy in travel.  Preserving and restoring destinations around the world is a noble effort for tourists and locals alike.

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Bothered by a Bevy of Baggage Blunders

Travelers through Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport had their patience tested this week.  Bad weather in the region caused many flights to be delayed, diverted, or cancelled.  Travel insurance can help alleviate some of the stress and financial impact accompanied by these types of situations, but as Bill Spencer wrote for WWLP.com in Houston, fliers were frustrated by delayed baggage.

“Brian Townsend and his girlfriend said it was frightening as groups of frustrated passengers began yelling at each other and verbal fights broke out. He said he waited for four hours.”

Luggage Lined Up Without Owners

In addition to bad weather, the airport cited too many international flights arriving at the same time as one of the causes of the baggage problems.  Though travel insurance will not get your bags from the airline any faster, MH Ross plans have several solutions for when something like this happens.

Baggage delay coverage is intended for just such an occurrence.  When the airline is late with your luggage, baggage delay coverage can reimburse you for the purchase of necessary items while you are without your bags.  Always check your policy certificate for specifics, the delay will be required to last a certain number of hours, and there will be a dollar limit of coverage.

If the airline completely loses your luggage, or it is damaged, the baggage and personal effects coverage can help.  Similar to homeowner’s or renters insurance, travelers can make a claim for the items that are lost or damaged.  Again, it is wise to review your policy to see what items are eligible for coverage and what limits apply.

It can be exasperating to have your travel plans go awry, but protecting your trip with travel insurance can help minimize the impact.  If you have any questions or would like help with a travel insurance quote, please contact us.  MH Ross agents are available by phone 24 hours per day at 800-423-3632 and are eager to help.

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Statement About the Earthquake in Nepal

A massive earthquake occurred in Nepal on Saturday, April 26th 2015, leaving thousands dead and more injured.

Anyone currently traveling and in need of assistance should call the 24 hour emergency assistance number at 603-894-4710.  This is a collect call from anywhere in the world and available at all times.

This earthquake can be covered by MH Ross travel insurance policies purchased on or before April 25th 2015.

An earthquake is considered a natural disaster.  Travelers should check their specific policy certificate to review coverage in the following categories:

  • Emergency Medical Expenses
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation
  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption
  • Missed Connection
  • Trip Delay

Always refer to the certificate for your particular policy to see what specific coverages may be available.

Please contact MH Ross with any questions at 800-423-3632.  Our agents are available 24 hours per day and are happy to help.

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Flyers’ Frustrations Fester from Failures Fulfilling Flights

The excitement of taking a vacation can be dampened by a bad experience with your airline.  Many travelers dread the possibility of delayed flights, missed connections, and an unplanned overnight stay at the airport.  Worse, your bags may be enjoying the sun at your tropical destination even though you are still waiting at the gate.  While it won’t make the plane arrive on time, travel insurance can help alleviate frustrations by reimbursing expenses during the delay, extra costs to catch up to your trip, and essentials that were in your checked luggage.

Airlines are often characterized by their lack of punctuality and empathy.  As Phil Lebeau wrote for NBC News, flyer complaints increased this year.

“Overall, the Airline Quality Rating has dropped to its lowest level since 2008.

Besides a spike in complaints about airline service, the AQR also found:

  • On-time arrivals dropped 2 percent
  • A slight increase in the percentage of passengers bumped from flights
  • Mishandled baggage climbed 11 percent”

Airport Delays Frustrating Passengers

Airlines already have the daunting task of keeping flights on schedule, and this past winter’s severe weather did not help their cause.  The next time your flight is delayed, check your travel insurance policy for several coverage benefits.

Trip Delay: This means you’ve been delayed for 6 hours or more and are now incurring unexpected costs.  Trip Delay can reimburse the expenses for taxi, hotel, and food during the delay.

Baggage Delay: When you’ve been without your checked luggage for 12 hours or more, this coverage reimburses you for essential items.  This can include a change of clothes, toiletries, etc.

Missed Connection: This helps when a delay has a cascading impact on your trip.  If you are delayed 3 hours or more and this causes you to miss another scheduled departure of your trip, Missed Connection coverage can reimburse the additional transportation costs for you to catch up to the trip, as well as unused trip costs that aren’t refunded.

Trip Interruption: Trip Interruption is similar to Missed Connection coverage in that additional transportation costs to rejoin the trip and trip expenses that were unused and non-refundable can be reimbursed.  The main distinction is that Missed Connection has a lower time requirement for the delay, and a pre-determined dollar limit of coverage.  Trip Interruption requires a 12 hour delay due to weather or strike, so it helps during a more substantial flight delay.  Also, the amount of coverage is based on the trip cost you insured, which is usually more than the set amount allocated for Missed Connection coverage.

For travelers still in the planning stages, compare travel insurance plans closely to make sure your concerns are adequately covered.  It is important to understand the dollar amounts of coverage and the requirements for how long a delay must last in order to find the right policy at the best value.

Want help selecting a travel insurance plan?  Please call us.  MH Ross agents are available by phone 24/7 and are happy to answer your questions.

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Considering Travel Insurance? Consult a U.S. Passport

U.S. Passport and Travel Documents

Changes to health care laws are having a large impact on domestic health insurance, but there are deeper implications for international travelers.  When planning a trip abroad, it is important to know whether your current health insurance will cover you during the trip in order to determine how much travel insurance coverage is appropriate.  This advice is even written into the “IMPORTANT INFORMATION” section of U.S. passports:

“3. HEALTH INSURANCE  Medicare/Medicaid does not cover healthcare costs outside the U.S.  Does your insurance apply overseas, including medical evacuation, payment to a hospital or doctor overseas, or reimbursement to you later?”

Understanding how you are covered for medical emergencies abroad with your existing insurance is a key step to finding the right travel insurance plan.  Travelers who already have medical coverage during the trip may save money by choosing travel insurance with a lower medical limit.  Conversely, knowing there is no international coverage will help you evaluate different plans’ coverage and price to find the best value.  As the U.S. passport information site warned, Medicare/Medicaid does not cover outside the U.S., making travel insurance with emergency medical coverage imperative for travelers using those medical programs.

Even if your domestic health insurance has adequate coverage, travel insurance can still reimburse deductibles, copayments, and additional out of pocket expenses.

Perhaps the most important consideration is whether an emergency medical evacuation is covered.  Helicopter airlifts and medical jets in a foreign country can often be omitted from traditional health insurance plans.  These services cost multiple thousands of dollars, sometimes in excess of $100k.  A medical evacuation can have a dire financial impact for a traveler without proper insurance.

If you have any questions about travel medical insurance, or would like help finding the right plan for you, please call us.  We are available 24 hours per day and happy to help.

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