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Hurricane Sandy is a reminder of how travel insurance can help

October 29, 2012|By Chris Erskine
  • Waves kick up on Hudson River as Hurricane Sandy approaches Monday. The Statue of Liberty is in the background.
Waves kick up on Hudson River as Hurricane Sandy approaches Monday. The… (Getty Images )

And you thought travel insurance was necessary only for overseas trips?

Hurricane Sandy serves as a reminder that domestic travel plans can go wrong as well. The relatively low cost of most plans can make travel insurance an appealing option in this era of nonrefundable air and lodging fees. For example, covering a $1,000 trip to the Big Apple would cost as little as $15.

Those with plans for a Caribbean cruise in particular might consider travel insurance during this busy hurricane season.

“Hurricane trip cancellation for any expenses provides for 100% reimbursement,” says Stephen Ebbett, president of Protect Your Bubble, a three-year old British company that expanded to the U.S. in March.

There is no deductible under Protect Your Bubble policies. It covers trip cancellation due to weather, or even missed ports of call for travelers on a cruise.

“It also includes missed connections,” Ebbett says. “If you missed your connection because your outbound flight wasn’t there, it would cover 100%."

Travel insurance has long been a controversal service. Critics, including Consumer Reports, say that many airlines will reimburse travelers when special circumstances such as storms arise. Hotels and resorts tend to be flexible in troubled situations as well.

Long popular for international travelers who fear the costs and hassle of an overseas illness, travel insurance is purchased by about 30% of travelers.  Such insurance helps them recover costs if their trips are canceled, interrupted or delayed or if they suffer other mishaps along the way. Ebbett says the cost through his company of insuring a $10,000 European trip would be $280.

Typically, it takes about 14 days for a reimbursement, Ebbett says.

“Travelers should first alert their travel agent or the airline that they have canceled a trip,” he says. “Then you’d call the travel insurer, and we’d start the process.

Collectively, Americans spend about $1.6 billion each year on premiums for travel insurance, according to a  study by the U.S. Travel Insurance Assn., an industry group based in Washington that represents about 90% of such insurers.

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chris.erskine@latimes.com

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