Insurance fills coverage gaps

Q&A

May 18, 2008|By Los Angeles Times

We are planning a Mediterranean cruise and can't seem to find any kind of trip-cancellation insurance. All insurance seems to be packages, which include medical insurance. We don't need such an extensive package. Do we have to buy the whole thing just to get this coverage?

Before you buy that comprehensive coverage package (you can com- parison shop at insuremytrip.com, squaremouth.com and quote wright.com), consider how risk-averse you are and whether you need the peace of mind.

If you're a risk-taker, maybe you don't want that insurance, says Dayana Yochim, a consumer finance expert at the Motley Fool, a financial news and advice company. "Does it financially make more sense to self-insure?" asks Yochim, who says she's not a big fan of travel insurance. It can cost as much as 5 percent to 8 percent of the trip cost, "which is not an insignificant amount," she says.

Sometimes, credit cards can provide protection from travel providers' default (think Aloha Airlines and ATA) and your homeowner's or medical insurance may offer other protections.

But not always.

"I don't want people to spend money for things they may not want or need," says Jim Grace, president and chief executive of insuremytrip.com. But, he adds, there are "risks associated with travel, and it's wise to know what you're up against."

Such as airlines that go out of business. Or bags that get lost. Or illnesses that come at you from nowhere.

The coverages of a comprehensive policy "really fill in the gaps left by those other insurances," says Dan McGinnity, vice president of AIG Travel Guard insurance.

And read the fine print. You need to know what is and is not covered.

Los Angeles Times

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