Travel Insurance … and the Paper It’s Written On.
On June 30th, my London-bound Eurostar train stopped halfway to the Chunnel and, after a lengthy wait, we went back to Paris. You will perhaps recall that it was because of a demonstration by migrant workers at the entrance to the tunnel on the French side of the English Channel.
Unfortunately, I had to scramble for a hotel room in Paris that night and also incurred a stiff no-show charge from the London hotel where I had made a reservation.
In my ignorance—better yet, call it naiveté—I saw this as a classic instance when the unexpected occurs and you say to yourself, “Whew! Damn good thing I bought travel insurance!”
That’s also what one of your fellow readers thought. She was caught in exactly the same situation, although she was headed in the other direction and it was on a different day. Here’s an excerpt from her email:
“The Eurostar train I was on made it as far as Folkestone before turning back to London around 1:00 am on the 1st of September. They offered me 50% of my fare in refund, but I am still out the other 50% and [the cost of] my hotel in Paris. My insurance has denied my claim on the basis that my train was not cancelled, did not depart late, and I did not miss the train due to other travel disruption; I am so angry and I am appealing.”
The lady is spitting nails angry and who can blame her? There was a time not that long ago when insurance companies regarded their relationship with each insured as a sacred trust … when it was inconceivable that one of those companies—the Hartford, the Aetna, the Phoenix, and many others—would try to chisel one of their insured, let alone seek to evade paying off altogether.
Having said that, I admit that I will no longer embark on a trip, especially outside of the U.S., without having travel insurance. Years ago, a veteran insurance executive gave me some excellent advice. The very first insurance policy you should buy, he said, is not the one that will cover you for an event that’s most likely to occur. Instead, it should insure you against an event which, if it did occur, would wipe you out.
These days, I buy travel insurance policies that will pay for medical care if I get sick or have an accident while traveling abroad, and will cover the cost of flying me back home … in first class or in a private jet or in an air ambulance . . . whatever is necessary. Because that’s the event that would wipe me out.