Do I really need travel insurance?
|Do I really need travel insurance?
|May 31, 2021
|travel insurance travel insurance italy travel in italy planning trip to italy
The answer to this depends on what you are willing to risk. Most people think nothing will happen, or they simply don't understand why they won't get all or most of their money back should they have to cancel. PLEASE, we beg that you read on to understand how important travel insurance is.
Nothing Will Happen to Me
Maybe not, but what if something happens to someone else that may cause you to delay your trip? What if a natural disaster hits somewhere in the world that interferes with your travel?
The hard truth is this: We know that roughly one 1 of every 50 people that reserve one of our vacations will have to cancel their plans for reasons they never expected. As sad as it is, hardly a month goes by that we don't get news of an illness, death, or personal emergency that results in a cancellation… and it usually seems to happen at a point when we are no longer able to issue a refund.
Besides illness or death in the family, lost jobs, and a sudden change in work requirements, here are a few examples of world events that have caused our guests to have to cancel:
In 2010, there was a volcano eruption in Iceland that caused an ash cloud to hang over the flight path into Europe. Thousands of flights were canceled, as the airplanes could not fly through the ash. Some of our guests were unable to get to Italy as a result of this last minute disaster. We were unable to refund these guests, as we had already paid out all of the costs associated with their trip, and there was no time to fill their space with other guests.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene hit the U.S. Northeast. Many flights were canceled, and many travelers living in the area simply could not leave. This was the case with a couple of our guests, who had lost their home just days before their trip. Again, there was no time to fill the space, and all of our costs were paid long before.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast again, grounding thousands of flights. Fortunately, this was a week that we had not scheduled a tour, but had we scheduled one that week, roughly half of our guests would not have been able to catch their flights, and it would have been too late.
The list goes on.
In early March of 2020 we were getting ready for a fully packed season with over 50 groups in Italy and Portugal. Many had paid their deposits, and we had in turn paid our deposits as well, many of which were non-refundable to us. We had heard about some virus circulating in China, but nobody had any idea that within days the entire world would come to a halt... and it would last nearly two years. Covid-19 absolutely devastated the entire travel sector everywhere in the world. Many companies were forced to implement the Force Majeure policies, causing all of their customers to lose their money. Some of us were able to at least offer our guests credits for future travel. But sweeping refunds would have put every travel company in bankruptcy, and only after a few customers got refunds. Most would lose out. Those travel credits allowed us to get through the greatest pandemic in modern history without have our guests lose their deposits, but that was only because we were able to make similar negotiations with those we had paid deposits to. Outside of a massive global pandemic that shutdown the world's economy, that would not have been possible.
But long before Covid hit, we had always urged all of our guests to get "Cancel for Any Reason" travel insurance for their trip. We include this on the website and many of the confirmation emails. We have practically begged people to do so for more than a decade, because we never want to see our guests lose out. For those guests that listened to our advice, they were able to get every penny returned, and did not need to take advantage of the travel credit we offered all of the other guests. So if you are reading this now, perhaps a volcanic eruption in Iceland doesn't hit home as much as a global pandemic. Please get "cancel for any reason" insurance. It may seem expensive, but it become very cheap the moment you need it.
Losses are not always BEFORE the trip & Can Cost Tens of Thousands of Dollars (or more)
Travel insurance is not just about the possibility that you may need to cancel. Consider what can happen while you are on your trip. We have seen people get sick and require hospitalization, we have seen people have family emergencies back home, needing an emergency flight home. We have seen airline strikes, flight delays, lost luggage, and so much more.
We have had several occasions in which our guests arrived in good health, but illness fell on them, requiring hospitalization. In a few cases, our guests have had to be medically evacuated back to North America. Thankfully, in each of these cases, the guests had travel insurance that covered the tens of thousands of dollars in extra costs.
All of this happens far more often than any of us like, and nobody ever expects it. This is why we so strongly urge our guests to get travel insurance.
PLEASE Get a "Cancel for Any Reason" Policy If You Cannot Afford to Lose What You Paid Us
Even as you look at different policy options, you will see one that is usually called "Cancel for Any Reason". It is always the most expensive, so most people shy away from it. But as you read through other policies, you will see a list of exclusions. The problem is that the reason you will cancel is not always going to be included on your policy. You might think "Oh, I won't cancel," but as noted above with the volcano and hurricanes, many policies did not cover those "Acts of God." For example, when Covid hit, guests that had Cancel for Any Reason insurance were covered. Others sadly were not. So unless you are comfortable gambling the cost of your vacation, we strongly urge ll of our guests to obtain a Cancel for any Reason policy.
Get Your Policy Right Away
Cancel for any reason policies typically need to be purchased within 14 days of the time you book your vacation. This is extremely important, because if you file a claim, the insurance company will contact us asking for proof of when you paid us. If you got the policy more than that time period allotment allowed, they will have the right to refuse your claim.
When we cannot offer you a refund
If you haven't yet, please click here to see our cancellation policies. It will outline the details of our cancellation and refund policy. You will see that at different stages of your reservation, the amount of refund or trip offset we can offer changes, and in most cases our guests are at a non-refundable stage when they need to cancel.
The reason for this is all based on when we have to pay our expenses on your behalf to our suppliers, what we can and cannot get back, and our ability to fill your space if you cannot come. When we are at stages that we no longer offer a refund, it is not that we are keeping your money, it is that we have paid it out to others already.
Here is an analogy that helps describe the "how and why":
Imagine you had a store with a case of 12 bottles of milk that expires in 14 days, all of which you have bought and paid for. A customer comes into your store and pays you for 2 bottles, but says he will come to pick it up later. You set them aside. In the meantime, other customers come and buy the other 10 bottles. You have sold out. As the days go by, you have more customers coming in for milk, but you have to tell them you have sold out. Finally, a day before the milk is set to expire, that first customer walks back in. He tells you that for whatever reason, he can no longer use the milk, so he won't be taking it. He wants a refund. Of course, you realize that you paid for the milk and when he ordered it, you took it off the shelf so that other customers could not buy it. Furthermore, it expires tomorrow, so you have lost your window of opportunity to sell it to someone else. You will be stuck with expired milk that you would have otherwise sold had you not set it aside for that customer. You have acted in good faith and cannot offer him a refund at this point.
This is essentially how we treat our cancellation policy. The start date of our vacations is the "expiration date". When you pay your deposit, we "take the milk off the shelf and set it aside for you so that others cannot get it". Your deposit is refundable within 50 days of the time you pay your deposit, so long as that deposit is more than 180 days before the trip begins. At that time we have to "pay a non-refundable deposit on our milk". At 90 days before our trips start, we have to "pay for our milk in full". After that, we cannot get a refund for it or give one out, but if you have "milk insurance", you can file a claim to be reimbursed so that nobody loses.
We are a small company
People often think that there is no loss if you did not "use" the service. But aside from our expenses to the people we pay for the vacation experiences, we are also a small company with very thin margins. One thinks often of an airline that won't refund you for your unused ticket, even though we all know that they are going to sell that seat again and make double the money. It isn't like that for us at all. The amount above our hard costs for our vacations doesn't go into some multi-million dollar fund somewhere. There are just a few of us, and it pays our health insurance and our relatively modest payroll. We are not Walmart. We are the corner grocer of travel.
So PLEASE obtain travel insurance
We hope that all of our guests will read this, especially since it is listed on important areas of our website and linked in many emails we send. But we also know that someone will email us with news of an emergency cancellation when it is too late. They will have not obtained travel insurance, and they will not have read this or our cancellation policy. They will want a refund, and will not understand why we have the policy. Furthermore, they will say that "we never told them", and we will be in the very uncomfortable position of having to remind them of what it says on the terms page on the itinerary on website, the sections dedicated to this in the confirmation email, the frequently asked questions and travel planning sections of the website, and even the "Balance Due" email before the trip. Please, Please Please.. don't be that person.
Getting Travel Insurance
There are many travel insurance providers out there, and if there is one that you like, please go with it… so long as you do get travel insurance that covers everything you need. Agin, if you cannot afford to lose it, get "Cancel for Any Reason" coverage. It will seem like it is expensive, until you need it.
For guests that reside in the United States:
Click Here to Get a free quote for Travel Insurance. We do not sell travel insurance, but we do have an agency relationship with one: MH Ross is a travel insurance provider that is underwritten by Nationwide. We like their balance of benefits to cost above others we have dealt with in the past. Additionally, Culture Discovery is registered as an agency with them. Should you need any help in working with them, we can operate as an intermediary in some cases, get copies of your insurance documents, etc. You can see their insurance plans by clicking here.
For guests that reside in other countries:
Simply do a Google search for "Travel Insurance", and you will find many reputable insurers that you can choose from.