Japan In Depth - 2015
Frequently Asked Questions

Insurance

In these troubling times, it makes a certain amount of sense to prepare to handle situations we hope will never arise:

  • A trip is cancelled by war, weather, terrorism, or other unforseen cause
  • You have to change or cancel your plans due to work, family, or other unexpected situations
  • A trip is interrupted due to unforseen events
  • Emergency medical evacuation is needed because of an accident or illness
  • Baggage or other belongings are lost or stolen

Sometimes this simply means being prepared, having a backup plan, or responding appropriately when things happen. Other times, your only recourse is to have planned ahead for these eventualities. This may include getting information from your current supplier for insurance, and purchasing insurance for the duration of the trip.

I would like to hear from members of the group regarding their experiences, recommendations, and questions. Here are some tips I've found in my reading or travels.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal (April 24-25, 2010) titled "Is Travel Insurance Worth the Cost" they answer their own question as you might expect: it depends.

They do reference two online services that let you comparison shop:

  • InsureMyTrip
  • SquareMouth
  • note that both companies also sell insurance, so comparing using both sites may end up giving you a more balanced appraisal

A few other points from the article that are worth mentioning:

  • It is best to buy trip-cancellation insurance as soon as your itinerary is final, or at least within 7-14 days of booking
  • The Better Business Bureau recommends buying trip insurance with a charge card, which gives you more leverage in case of disputes, and from an indendent firm rather than the tour operator
  • Travel-policy language is very exact, so it is important to read the fine print, check for exclusions, and ask questions before you buy

You can either buy a single comprehensive policy or pick and choose the components that fit your specific needs. Consider:

  • Trip cancellation / interruption
  • Baggage loss
  • Accidental death
  • Flight accident
  • Medical emergency
  • Emergency medical evacuation
    Note that emergency medical evacuation is included in the trip package!
    (Still, you may want to consider an inexpensive short term travel medical insurance policy)

Work to avoid unnecessary duplication: check you home-owner, life insurance, medical insurance policies as well as charge cards for whatever travel-related coverage they may already include. In fact, you should probably do this check first!

Here are some tips and suggestions regarding insurance culled from International Travel Newsletter (ITN) over the years:

  • Before leaving on a trip, make sure you know how to call the medical assistance company from wherever you are going to be. Our travel insurance certifcate contained incorrect information!
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  • If you have any medical issues during your trip, contact the medical assistance company right away: even if you don't think you have an emergency, you may not get reimbursed later if you don't keep the company informed at the time you encounter a condition
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  • If you think you may have to file any claim against your coverage, keep a journal including dates, times, names of people talked to, and a summary of what was said
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  • Remember that neither domestic US health insurance nor Medicare will cover either evacuation nor repatriation
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  • One should note carefully the exclusions for preexisting health conditions
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  • Remember that evacuation arrangements must be made by the coverage provider, unless explicit alternative options are included in the contract
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