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September 2, 2011

To Insure or Not to Insure? That is the solo traveler question.

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Hello, this is Tammy. Oh hi Chris, how are you? Good, I bet you’re excited for your upcoming singles cruise! Mhm, mhm, ok. Oh, did you want me to add trip cancellation insurance to your package? Mhm, ok, you got it, consider your vacation investment protected!

Now that’s a scenario in a perfect world, we offer insurance and our STI member says go for it, no questions asked. What you don’t know about Chris is that she was attacked by a lion on safari in Africa! No, that’s not true, that’s just the story she told on the road during her safari after her triple, leg break surgery inSouth Africa in 2008.

On our first day of the trip, after the group had lunch in Capetown, Chris tripped on what? On her new shoes? But nobody ever gets new shoes before vacation!

Right. So anyway, she goes down and I kick into action. Not kidding this time, flag the first car and fling open his door to get Chris in and back to the hotel. Ok, I admit, I’m no nurse, maybe that’s not what I was supposed to do, but Chris didn’t have insurance.

Once at the hotel, we sent for the ambulance and she spent 2 days in the hospital.

Chris was lucky! South Africahas excellent medical care and at the time, the exchange for the Randwas so favorable that it only cost her several thousand dollars, only! She did not have the option to fly home and get her money back at the expense of an insurance carrier, nor was she able to get a medevac to the best facility for her injury. She was not covered for the follow up care twice during her vacation, not the wheelchair (she did a safari from chair to range rover), not the meds that she had to inject because we were on so many flites and the list goes on.

Not everyone is so lucky and I want to keep this upbeat so we won’t go there, but it happens. According to our contacts at Travel Guard, my fave company for many reasons, and I will explain later, they perform at least one emergency medical evacuation per day!

Nobody ever wants to cancel a trip before or during, but is happens. Volcanoes erupt over theAtlantic, airplanes bomb buildings and the not so dramatic, kids get sick or your boss says it’s not a good time after all.

So what is travel insurance anyway?

Travel insurance, often termed trip cancellation/interruption insurance is as varied as any other insurance policy and that’s what makes it so confusing. Here are some major facts that help sort it out.

1. No deductible, but there is usually a minimum for a claim, generally about $200.

2. The most comprehensive policy should include insurance for canceling before you go (trip cancellation) and for canceling once you are on the trip (trip interruption).

3. Most policies cover cancellation before you depart for death and medical reasons only, but the list of relatives is long and deep.

4. Most policies cover you if you already suffer from a medical condition such as diabetes or MS as long as it has been under control for a specified amount of time AND you purchase the policy within 14 days of your trip deposit . (that’s pre-existing condition)

5. Medical and dental attention on the road, sometimes up to 50,000 in coverage. When something happens, you, a friend or travel director calls the insurance company and they recommend a facility and cover the expenses for you with no out of pocket. On a cruise ship, you may be required to pay the bill and submit to the insurance company as a claim after the trip.

6. Emergency medical evacuation in the event that you are hurt more than any doctor in that country knows how to heal. Get out now to save your life. Thanks to an STI member on our Canyonlands Adventure, I got a free helicopter ride out of theGrand Canyon, stunning for both of us!

7. Most polices cover trip delay, which means you are covered up to a maximum amount (it varies) for things like missing your plane, getting on the next one (at insurance company’s expense) even if not until the next day. They pay the fare difference, your hotel accommodations, meals and transportation costs. They’ll even fly you to the next stop if you were supposed to get on a cruise ship and didn’t make it on time. If you are ever in a situation where flights are all cancelled or airports closed down due to weather, as an insured, just throw up your hands and go home. You will get your money back.

8. Baggage delay and loss is important when you don’t get your bags on vacation and it happens every day by the thousands. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, your odds are getting better! This part of the policy allows a maximum amount per day to purchase the basics until you get your bags. If you never get them, the allowance increases.

9. Options are generally available for cancellation for any reason. It will cost approximately 20% more, but for many, the best coverage.

10. Policy prices are based on your age and the cost of your total trip, so insure only those elements that are non-refundable.

Single travelers and single cruisers who should take insurance:

1. Singles sharing with someone that they do not know and were matched to save money.

2. Single parents and single pet owners

3. Single travelers with ailing/aging parents or other family members

4. BUSY single executives! If the deal of a lifetime hits your desk, what are you going to do?

5. Mature singles, even if healthy.

6. Single travelers that suffer a medical condition

7. Singles that live anywhere and have a good chance for severe weather conditions like, um, winter. If you are from a wintery place and plan to fly out of your home town in a wintery month, you should be purchasing insurance.

8. Singles that take adventure vacations such as hiking, biking, rafting, climbing, etc.

9. Singles who insure everything else you own, house, car, and wouldn’t want to lose.

10. Singles that travel solo, on their own.

Oh, I promised to tell you why I love Travel Guard. On the 10th anniversary of 911, it is fitting to commend Mr. Noel, then CEO at Travel Guard, who was the only travel insurance executive who honored every customer that had a Travel Guard policy even though a “terrorist clause” had not even been a part of travel policies at that time. We were able to help all of our stranded members and those awaiting a trip, at no cost to them, thanks to Travel Guard. We have never offered any other company to our very important Singles Travel International members.

If you have a travel insurance story, let’s hear it. I barely scratched the surface, I’ve traveled with you guys for 18 years and I know who you are!

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