Word to the Wise: Travel Protection is the Way to Go

“We were three months away from our Vantage Rhine river cruise when my husband’s mother, a healthy woman of 76, had a serious stroke,” says Elizabeth Noble, of Raleigh, NC. “We were told that she might be in rehab for up to six months, and we just didn’t feel right being away on vacation under those circumstances. Fortunately, we had travel insurance through the Vantage 100% Travel Protection Plan and were able take advantage of the ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage to opt out of our trip. We received a partial cash refund, and the rest as a travel credit towards another trip. She’s fine now, and we’ve already used our travel credit to reschedule our river cruise, so it’s all worked out. ” The Noble’s had not originally planned to purchase any kind of travel protection plan. “The scary part is that because my husband and I are both marathoners and keep our selves in top shape, we weren’t even going to bother with the travel protection. Needless to say, we’re glad we did!”

Let’s face it: travel protection is a delicate topic. Nobody wants to think about any kind of setback while planning a vacation, much less illness or injury involving yourself or a loved one. But face it you should, for a variety of reasons. In addition to the obvious, such as medical coverage or the “cancel for any reason” benefit, you need to be prepared for the kinds of unplanned circumstances or inconveniences that are just a fact of travel today, says Ben Perlo, Vantage Deluxe World Travel’s Senior Vice President of Finance & Corporate Products. “Think about having your connecting flight grounded due to bad weather, so that you don’t make it to France before you river ship sails. Our trip interruption coverage will reimburse you for the extra travel costs to catch up with your tour. And, should you miss part of your scheduled itinerary because of the delay, you’ll be reimbursed for that portion of your trip, too. Or, imagine touching down in Bangkok, only to find out that your luggage is touching down in Beijing. If it takes more than 24 hours for you and your bags to be reunited, benefits kick in that enable you to purchase replacements for missing clothing and other items.

“If you’ve seen the Vantage 100% Travel Protection Plan video on our website,” said Perlo, “you can see that the beauty of the plan is that everything you need is in one package. It’s designed for Vantage’s audience, many of whom reserve a year or more in advance of departure date and want to protect their investment with travel insurance. Foremost is the “cancel for any reason” benefit, as noted above. “There can be lots of reasons why you may need to cancel your trip that have nothing to do with the medical reasons that most travel insurance plans cover. What if you find out that your daughter’s expecting and the baby is due right smack in the middle of your French Waterways river cruise? Or maybe you just get the jitters about some event in the news and decide to stay home. Cancel for any reason means just that — you decide not to go, and as long as you contact us to cancel your trip, you’ll be compensated. Depending upon how close to your actual departure date you cancel, you’ll be reimbursed in cash, a credit towards future travel with Vantage, or some combination of both.”

Medical coverage during your trip is also essential, says Perlo, especially since certain plans, including Medicare, don’t cover you overseas. The Vantage 100% Travel Protection Plan is designed for international coverage, with features like global access to your medical records, 24 hours a day. It also reimburses you for your trip cost should you fall ill before departure and can’t go, and that includes cancellation due to a pre-existing condition, as long as you pay for your Vantage 100% Travel Protection Plan within 14 days of reserving your trip.

In the event of a worst-case scenario, such as a serious injury during your trip, there can be costs that you hadn’t anticipated. “We had a traveler take a freak fall and break his hip in Budapest,” says Perlo. “The Hungarian medical system is excellent. He was whisked away to a hospital, treated, and able to travel within two weeks. All that was covered, of course, including a hotel room for the man’s wife so she could stay with him. And our Budapest staff stayed in close contact throughout the hospitalization. The wrinkle came when it was time to return to the States. He wasn’t yet able to sit in a regular airline seat for the long flight home, so he and his wife had to fly from Europe home to Minneapolis in private air ambulance. The bill for that was $22,000! Thankfully, everything was covered under the medical evacuation provision of the Vantage 100% Travel Protection Plan.”

And never discount the completely unexpected, says Perlo. “People may remember that in 2010, flights across most of northern Europe were grounded for days by the huge ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland.” For many stranded travelers, the delays added up to thousands of dollars in unplanned hotel and meal costs. Fortunately, most Vantage travelers were savvy enough to purchase the Vantage 100% Travel Protection Plan, says Perlo.

Marjorie Weathers of Rochester, NY, was one of those grounded by the volcano. “There we four of us, and we had planned to say an extra night in Amsterdam after our Vantage river cruise ended,” she says. “When the volcano happened, our one night stretched to five before we could fly home. We had an absolute ball! We explored all the nooks and crannies of Amsterdam, visited the museums, went shopping, and even took a train trip to Bruges. And the best part was that our Vantage Travel Protection Plan trip interruption coverage picked up the tab for our hotels and meals. Thank goodness we had purchased it!”