Few of you will remember one of the earliest companies to offer traveler’s
insurance. It was in 1864 in Hartford, Connecticut, that “Travelers” was
Along the way it had many industry firsts, including the first
automobile policy, the first commercial airline policy and the first policy for
For those of you who can recollect their achievements, I
salute you on your immortality. To everyone else, it is widely advisable to
purchase traveler’s insurance.
In fact it’s downright foolish to rely
upon your good health and luck prior to your trip and assume that if you haven’t
needed it in the past, you can save the small expenditure and travel worry
There are three major components of most travel-insurance policies:
1 Health issues, be it doctors visits or hospitalization.
2 Loss or theft
of one’s personal belongings.
3 Trip Cancellation.
whether you purchase your travel arrangements through a travel consultant, from
an airline or online you are asked ever-so politely, “Do you require insurance?”
And like so many items, you declare that you’ll do it closer to your departure
date. A fool and his money are easily parted.
In fact, more times than
not, clients are completely certain that travelers insurance just covers
health-related issues. A far smaller number are aware that their personal
belongings are also protected against an airline losing them, or a thief
ransacking their hotel room.
It’s the rare client who is aware that most
policies also cover trip cancellation.
For example: Koby, his wife and
their two kids planned their late summer trip to Orlando. Studiously reviewing
every possible option months in advance, he plunked down over $10,000 dollars
for airfares, hotel rooms, rental cars and a four-day Carnival cruise. Several
times during the course of his two months of planning he was asked about health
insurance, and Koby intelligently decided to arrange it.
Sadly, 10 days
before they were due to fly, his son became very sick and was hospitalized.
Initially diagnosed as walking pneumonia, Koby was told his son would be well
enough to fly. However three days later, his situation became critical and
required liquids intravenously due to severe dehydration.
once again, it dawned on Koby that the trip was not going to take place as
planned. Tests were ordered to discover the source of his illness. A proper
diagnosis would take weeks. His son’s condition was not
Incredulously, he went over to his HMO, Kupat Cholim Clalit
and innocently asked if he could get health insurance. Rebuffed by the very
first question of: “Has anyone in your travelling party been hospitalized in the
last 6 months?,” a sinking feeling that he had a serious financial problem began
to dawn in his now-fertile mind. He left the counter without saying a
Koby had purchased the following:
❖ Four round trip El Al tickets
to New York.
❖ Four Delta tickets from New York to Orlando, and back to
❖ A junior suite at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel.
Six-day rental car with Alamo.
❖ Four-day cruise from Orlando.
contacted us after his travel consultant gave him the hard figures: El Al would
charge him $240 each to cancel the tickets; Delta wouldn’t give him a penny back
of the $1,196 ($299 each) that he had paid; Walt Disney said they would only
charge a one-night cancellation fee, as it was during the high season; Alamo
said he could cancel and get everything back but $10; and the cruise company
stated he wouldn’t get anything back from the $2,300 he paid.
words if he cancelled, he would lose $4,766! His travel consultant confirmed
that he had offered Koby travelers insurance when he purchased the tickets two
months earlier. He had warned him that both the Delta tickets and the cruise
were 100 percent non-refundable. Koby didn’t argue, but felt these circumstances
warranted some flexibility.
A quick call to both El AL and Delta produced
great sympathy, and they were quite happy to allow him to extend his tickets for
one year – without any penalty – due to the situation.
company, Carnival, also allowed him to postpone the cruise for 12
Of course, none of this mattered as his eldest child is going
into the army in three months and Koby’s new job next month will leave him with
little free time. Therefore, while these suppliers tried to placate him, he will
probably suffer a large financial loss.
By purchasing health insurance,
he would have received every dollar back, minus a $50 deductible.
that’s right: His trip-cancellation clause, covers planes, boats, hotels and any
other item connected with one’s trip. If he had paid for a private tour, this
too would have been covered.
Traveler’s insurance policies are offered by
your travel consultant, your Kupat Holim, your credit card and even your
friendly insurance agent.
They can be purchased two months prior to your
There are countless prices and coverage’s that exist, so it
behooves you to compare.
Here’s what the minimum adult policy should
❖ Hospitalization expenses: $500,000.
❖ Deterioration of an
existing illness: $200,000.
❖ Medical flight (air ambulance) full
coverage personal accident: $15,000.
❖ Third-party liability:
❖ Luggage: $1,750.
❖ Theft of break-in to car: $
❖ Late arrival of luggage: $150.
cancellation/shortening of trip: $5,000.
❖ Travel ticket:
❖ Escort for travel: $1,000.
Remember, this is coverage
per person, but in Koby’s case, because of his son, all four of them had to
cancel – and all four of them would have been covered. In fact, Koby would have
had $20,000 of trip cancellation coverage if he had purchased the
I’m not here to tout insurance companies; reading the small
print will give many examples where they don’t reimburse.
favorite is accidents that the insurer himself caused. For example, if you ran a
red light and this resulted in bodily injuries: no coverage. If you drank beyond
the legal limit and injured yourself: no coverage.
But the golden rule –
of which there are very few exceptions – is if someone in your immediate family
is hospitalized and you cannot travel, you will be provided full
One caveat: immediate family means through a bloodline
(father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter) or spouse. Indeed, many
policies will not pay if your lifelong companion falls ill. He or she will be
reimbursed, the partner will not.
One more woeful tale to cement my
A tourist from South America purchased a ticket to visit her
family in Israel. Too preoccupied to deal with insurance from there, her family
here diligently purchased her a policy through a local Israeli insurance agency
covering any potential emergency that could occur during her visit
After a glorious healthy month in the Holy Land, she boarded her
plane flying her from Tel Aviv to Madrid, and on to Lima. Sadly a few hours
outside of Madrid, she suffered a debilitating stroke on the plane and the
airline was forced to land in Manaus, Brazil.
LAN Airlines took care of her every need until her son was able to fly from Tel
Aviv to assist her.
Realizing the huge medical bills that awaited them,
the daughter-in-law called our office asking if the airline was legally liable,
as she couldn’t believe how wonderful they had been.
assumed they were being so helpful because they were liable. She also stoically
accepted the fact that her mother-in-law’s insurance should have originated from
Lima, so that her flights would also be covered.
And, she knew full well
that the health insurance she had arranged only covered her while she was in
However, she was in shock when she discovered that as great as
LAN Airlines had been in making an emergency stop, and arranging for her
mother-in-law to be hospitalized, odds were very good they would soon send her
the bill for their largesse! So whatever you do – and wherever you go – when you
plunk down the money for your ticket, purchase your traveler’s insurance that
covers the entire trip.Mark Feldman is the CEO of Ziontours,
Jerusalem. For questions & comments, e-mail him at