Advantages Of Using Travel Insurance Specialists – Forbes Advisor

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Agents who specialize in travel insurance can help you save time and money when you’re planning your next adventure, whether it’s a week in Mexico or a month in Italy. A comprehensive travel insurance policy packages together different types of coverage that compensates you for problems that may arise before and during your trip. But you don’t want to be surprised that you don’t have the travel insurance you need if the unexpected happens.

While travel agents provide lots of help in planning the perfect trip, one who is savvy about travel insurance can also help you buy a solid travel insurance plan for your budget and itinerary.

What Is a Travel Agent?

A travel agent is a professional who assists individuals or groups in planning and organizing their travel arrangements. They act as intermediaries between travelers and travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels, cruise lines, car rental companies and tour operators. Travel agents who specialize in travel insurance can also help you find the best travel insurance companies.

Benefits of a Travel Agent

While it’s easier than ever to book your trip online, using a travel agent can provide you with a range of benefits. Travel agents have the knowledge, experience and industry connections to help make your travel planning process smoother and more efficient. This can potentially result in a better and more affordable trip experience than you could have planned on your own.

Booking flights, accommodations and transportation. Travel agents can make flight reservations, book hotel accommodations, arrange car rentals and organize other transportation options, ensuring that all aspects of the trip are coordinated.

Cost savings. Travel agents can often help you find better deals and discounts. They have access to special rates, exclusive promotions and package deals that may not be available to the general public. Travel agents can also compare prices, identify hidden costs and suggest more affordable alternatives, ensuring you get the most value for your money. For example, a travel agent can help you book a trip on an airline with no fees for checked baggage.

Customized itineraries. Travel agents can create customized itineraries tailored to your specific interests, preferences and comfort zone. They can arrange experiences, such as guided tours, adventure activities or special events, based on what you want to get out of your trip experience.

Travel advice and recommendations. Travel agents have the inside scoop on destinations and travel trends. For example, they can suggest popular tourist attractions and hidden gems, as well as explain local customs and the best times to visit certain places.

Travel documentation and support. Travel agents assist with visa applications, passport renewals and other necessary travel documentation. They also provide ongoing support throughout the trip, including assistance with changes or cancellations, resolving travel-related issues and providing emergency contact information.

Travel packages. They can offer travel packages that include flights, accommodation and sometimes additional services such as tours and activities. These packages cater to different travel styles and budgets, providing clients with convenient and cost-effective options.

Trip planning. Travel agents can help you determine your travel preferences, destination options and budget constraints. Based on this information, they can suggest suitable travel itineraries and provide advice on visa requirements, necessary vaccinations and other travel requirements.

Travel Insurance Specialists Know Details

While there are benefits to working with a travel agent when planning a trip, there can be even more advantages to hiring a travel agent with expertise in travel insurance.

More Knowledge About Travel Insurance Means More Options

A travel agent who mainly sells trips may have only limited access to travel insurance policy choices. A travel insurance agent will have the best access to a wide variety of insurance options, says Daniel Durazo, a spokesperson with Allianz travel insurance. For example, many travel insurance agents have access to the AgentMax travel insurance booking platform which aids in selecting the best coverage for their customers’ itineraries.

Additionally, many travel insurance companies provide training to travel insurance advisors so they have a good understanding of the coverage options available and are better able to match coverage to travelers, says Durazo.

“When buying travel insurance, it’s best to work with an agent or company specializing in travel insurance rather than buying a policy directly from a travel supplier, such as a cruise line or airline,” says Bailey Foster, a spokesperson for Trawick International. “While buying directly can be convenient, it is often more expensive, and you won’t get a customized, comprehensive travel insurance policy like you would when you buy through a travel insurance agent or provider.”

Travel Insurance for Cancellations, Delays and Medical Expenses

Travel insurance agents can rely on their experience to help you plan for the unexpected, says Sue Martinez, a travel advisor with more than 30 years of experience, who works with AAA Allied Group.

“I hear every day, ‘I’m going, I’m going’ and life happens and they don’t go,” she says. “Are you going to go if you break your leg? What if you need your appendix out? What about if there is a death in the family? If you don’t be sure of your trip investment, you are more than likely not going to get money back.”

Trip cancellation insurance reimburses 100% of your non-refundable trip costs as long as you cancel for a reason listed in your policy. Pre-departure cancellations accounted for more than 21% of paid travel insurance claims in 2022, according to Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider.

Martinez also says that travel insurance agents can ensure you buy a policy that compensates you for medical costs and emergency medical transportation. “So you are not only covering cancellation fees, but if anything happens to you while on the trip, you have (compensation for) medical coverage,” says Martinez.

Travel medical insurance is especially important if you’re traveling outside the US, where your health insurance plan may have limited or no coverage. One in five travel insurance claims in 2022 was related to a medical emergency, according to Squaremouth data.

Additionally she says some travelers aren’t aware that travel delay and baggage insurance are key parts of a solid travel insurance plan, which is unfortunate because unexpected events that can derail a trip may be more common than you think. For example, more travel delay insurance claims (25%) were paid out in 2022 than any other type of travel insurance claim, according to data from Squaremouth.

Another benefit of working with an agent who specializes in travel insurance is that you are less likely to miss out on policy upgrades that you may not be aware of, says Foster. For example, “cancel for any reason” travel insurance (CFAR) lets you cancel for any reason you like—even if it’s not listed in the base policy—as long as you do so no less than 48 hours prior to your departure.

You usually have to buy a travel insurance policy and purchase CFAR as add-on coverage within 14 days of making your first trip deposit. It reimburses you for 50% or 75% of what you’ve lost in non-refundable deposits, depending on the company. But note that CFAR generally adds about 50% to your travel insurance cost.

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Keeping Pace With Changing Travel Rules

Anyone who has travel plans as the pandemic spreads across the world knows that having a good travel insurance agent during uncertain times can be helpful.

“Travel insurance agents keep up with current travel rules and regulations and can advise travelers on the best options for them based on their destination to help ensure there are no hiccups when they arrive,” Foster says.

For example, during the pandemic, Costa Rica began requiring at least $2,000 in coverage for quarantine lodging expenses in case travelers contracted Covid-19. Foster says Trawick “took quick action and worked with our underwriter and carrier to update our policy to comply with Costa Rican government travel policy.”

While travel restrictions due to Covid have been lifted in most countries, including Costa Rica, there are still destinations where safety issues and civil unrest may be an issue. Travel insurance agents with expertise in country-specific safety issues can help travelers prepare for their trips, for example, by suggesting travel insurance with non-medical evacuation benefits.