By Robert McGarvey
Of course you don’t need to buy trip cancellation insurance on domestic travel – but we are in a new era when it comes to foreign policy and, suddenly, many travelers are asking if they should by it for trips abroad in the Age of Trump.
Mind you, I have never bought the stuff in four decades of travel – always thought it superfluous, particularly for travelers who bought the right airfares and made very certain that hotel rooms could be canceled without penalty. For years I thought that was plenty circumspect on my part.
Things are very different today however. Foreigners arriving on US soil sometimes are being treated with real suspicion by US immigration – and there is a tit for tat reality in international travel. If we are treating arrivals from France or China badly, expect the same for yourself when heading there.
And maybe you decide you just don’t want the hassle.
The other, largely new issue is that whole parts of the globe may be crossed out as no go zones by the White House – and if you already have a trip planned to an impacted country you may want to rethink.
A particular flashpoint is Cuba, on the one hand a wildly popular go-to place, on the other it’s a place where President Trump has sometimes seemed to suggest that his administration may modify the Obama led warming up of relationships.
Here’s the bad news, however. Most trip insurance is no panacea in such cases. That’s because it usually offers no coverage for cancellations triggered by shifting government policies.
But if you opt for a “change; for any reason” policy, you will probably get 50 to 75% of your expenditures refunded in the event changing US policy leads you to cancel a trip to Cuba.
It could be anyplace. This definitely is about more than Cuba. Right now it is unclear what the Trump administration will do regarding many nations, from China to Egypt. We have entered into an era of significant unpredictability and as travelers we need to prepare for the uncertainties in front of us.
That’s not easy. But is also why I find myself contemplating trip insurance.
A standard trip insurance policy costs 4 to 6% of the cost of the trip. That is, a $1000 vacation can be insured for $40 to $60, but those policies have lots of fine print and loopholes about what is insured and covered and what isn’t.
Enter trip cancellation for any reason coverage which, for the most part, does what it says. It costs about 50% more than a standard policy.
Is it worth the money? “If travel to Cuba is prohibited by the government, Cancel For Any Reason is the only benefit that can cover travelers to cancel their trips,” Jessica Harvey, an executive with travel insurance review site Squaremouth, said.
Similar can be said about travel to just about anywhere.
Play by the rules, buy from a known provider, and very probably you will get some of your money returned if you decide to cancel, for any reason, from fears of terrorism to government policies that make you uneasy about travel to a particular place or maybe those policies make is very difficult to get there.
One other bit of bad news: cancel for any reason policies are not available to New Yorkers. The New York Dept of Financial Services has said: “An insurer may not include ‘Cancel for Any Reason Waiver’ or ‘Change of Mind’ coverage in its travel insurance policies because such coverage is not insurance, nor is it necessarily or properly incidental to the kinds of insurance that an insurer is authorized to write in this state.”
I’m told no other state has followed New York’s lead.
Honestly, what I will do this year is nothing new regarding travel to western Europe – from Ireland to Austria I just don’t see significant changes coming out of the White House. And I won’t buy trip insurance.
What about Ukraine? Turkey? Even Morocco?
Color me uncertain.
There are dozens more countries in that uncertain bucket.
I just don’t know about our relationship with such nations and that uncertainty is exactly why if a trip to such places pops up on my calendar I very well may buy travel insurance with a cancel for any reason option.
That just maybe has become prudence 2017 style.