World Crises May Boost Private Travel Insurance Costs

This may be a good time for you to pre-purchase travel insurance for forthcoming trips later this year. Right now, the crush of dangerous world events—revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic disruptions, radiation—is putting mounting financial pressure on the giant underwriting firms that backstop international travel insurers.

A resident of Alberta buying a vacation trip to Disney World may seem far removed from the Japanese nuclear threat, but the British, American, or European firms that underwrite the risks for most insurance companies, including those in Canada, are now under intense pressure to make very large payouts for their insurance company customers. Some European underwriting giants still have nuclear/biological clauses dating back to the Cold War that make them responsible for consumers’ exposure to radiation. These same multinational companies are responsible for covering the losses in Japan and New Zealand, the volcanic ash disruptions, property and other damage in the Middle East and North Africa, and the extraordinarily heavy snowfalls in Europe and Britain this past winter. This means the deals they can offer to “insure” the losses of the retail insurance companies who handle many consumer products, from auto, home, life, and fire to travel insurance, will be more expensive and push up the prices of the products you need to cover your vacation in the coming months.

Many travel insurance companies allow you to buy early and lock in a price for a trip you plan to take later on. The only stipulation is this: If any of your circumstances change from the time you buy your insurance to the date it becomes effective, you must notify your insurer so they can update the terms of coverage. For example, if you become ill in the interim and require medical treatment, or if your health status changes in any way (your medication is altered or you are referred for testing), you are required to notify your insurer.

This is also a good time to think about buying an annual plan at today’s price. Under the annual, multi-trip policy, you don’t need to have your travel plans and dates all locked in. You will be covered for the next year for any trips you want to make up to a predetermined duration of your own choosing. A 30-day plan will allow you to take as many trips of up to 30 days as you wish throughout the year without first notifying your insurer. Just pick up and go. Multi-trip plans are available in many different duration periods—9, 15, 30, 60, 90 days, or more. Check with the insurers advertising on this site for their various options.

But, as with advance purchase of single-trip plans, if any circumstance such as your health changes in any way by the time you take your first trip, or between trip durations, you must notify your insurer. Also note that taking three or four 30-day trips under an annual plan is a lot cheaper than buying three single-trip policies.

One thing you can be pretty sure of, what with these worldwide pressures growing exponentially, is that prices of travel insurance are not likely to drop. So look at what you need, make sure you fully understand the exclusions as well as the benefits of your purchase, and buy it now. Save yourself some money.

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