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*This story originally appeared on Travel Weekly

Travel agents frequently face clients who turn aside their advice to purchase travel insurance, often overlooking existing conditions that could impact a traveler’s ability to take a trip, and thus putting significant financial resources at risk.

In fact, in a column that appeared in the Miami Herald on Dec. 28, 2017, business editor and travel writer Jane Wooldridge answered a question from “Katie” in Santa Monica, California.

“I'm booking a Europe trip with my family. The tour operator is pushing me to buy a travel insurance policy. Do I really need this? If we can't go, won't they just reschedule us on another trip?” Katie wrote.

In a column entitled, “Come on. Do I REALLY need trip insurance?” Wooldridge responded: “Sorry Katie, but without that travel insurance, if something goes awry in your life you're out of luck. First there's the airfare. Plus you've got the tour cost. If you're willing to risk all that, then go bare.”


Miami Herald Writer Tells Travel Insurance Tale of Woe

Then Wooldridge offered a “cautionary” tale from a “a heart-breaking letter” she had received years ago from a man who had booked a family celebration cruise. The man’s “young son” had a pre-existing medical condition, having been diagnosed with cancer. A flare-up required the family to cancel the trip for 30 people, but the man had not taken out travel insurance. He asked the cruise line to reschedule his trip, though his reservations terms and conditions clearly stated they wouldn’t without travel insurance. This cost the family “thousands of dollars,” Wooldridge recounted.

“Any time you're putting up a substantive amount of money in nonrefundable expenses, you need to take insurance. That goes double if you have elder parents who might get ill or if someone in your party has had medical issues. At the very least, it provides peace of mind,” she wrote. For things like what impacted the man who booked the family cruise and lost his money, Wooldridge advised how most policies will cover pre-existing conditions if you buy insurance within one or two weeks of your first trip payment.

Wooldridge added that while airlines, tour companies and cruise lines offer policies from third-party insurers, “before you buy, read details closely and shop around.” She also recommended that consumers consider the reasons they might need coverage, and base their final decisions on those issues.

“Some policies define grandparents as immediate family, for instance, but not Uncle Charlie. Others include getting laid off from your job while others don't.”

Another consideration, Wooldridge offered up, is whether a traveler wants primary medical insurance (paying first in all situations), or secondary insurance to pick up expenses after a traveler’s primary insurer resolves and pays a claim.

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