A recent survey found most Americans unprepared for travel catastrophes.
According to the survey, one in eight U.S. adults (12%) either had their travel impacted, or considered changing their travel plans, due to natural disasters or world events since summer 2010.
The question these travel changes raises is this: who pays for the dollars already invested? The answer, we learned the hard way long ago, is the traveler absorbs the loss.
Unless you do what we've done ever since - buy travel insurance to cover unforeseen changes in travel plans.
Yet, of the travelers in the survey mentioned above who had their travel impacted by unanticipated changes, only 29% had travel insurance. Of those with the foresight to use travel insurance to cover potential problem-caused travel expenses, 96% reported satisfaction with their travel insurance, and nearly half (49%) said they were very satisfied.
The survey was an Ipsos poll conducted in February, 2012, for the US Travel Insurance Association
. We suspect Association members were probably chagrined to see that so few travelers protected their investment by purchasing travel insurance. On the other hand, the survey confirms the market potential for their product.
Surprisingly, in the survey, 18 - 34 year olds were the most likely to have their travel plans changed or impacted by natural or other events (20%), followed by college graduates (17%), and parents of a child under 18 (16%).
Understandably, these groups were also more likely to say they would purchase travel insurance for an upcoming trip (34% of 18 - 34 year olds, 28% of college graduates, and 26% of those with a child at home).
Additionally, more than a quarter (27%) of those whose household income exceeded $50,000 said they would likely purchase travel insurance. Slightly more than one in five (22%) aged 55 or older said they planned to purchase travel insurance.
So who's traveling in 2012?
Four out of five adults (82%) with household income of over $50,000 said they planned to take a leisure trip of 100 miles or more in 2012, compared to 54% of households with lower income, while married adults were slightly more likely to take a vacation than those who were unmarried (75% vs. 64%).
Most Americans recognize the importance of insuring their homes, autos and their health. Likewise, it's important to consider insuring your travels, suggests UStiA. Altering travel plans due to unforeseen events such as storms, and other natural disasters like the Iceland Volcano in 2010, and the Japan tsunami in 2011 can cost travelers money for extra hotel stays, meals, and transportation.
How does travel insurance help?
Travel insurance can reimburse travelers for expenses when their trip is delayed or interrupted by unforeseen disasters. During a crisis, travel insurance and assistance services can also play an important role in helping with evacuation plans and other arrangements to keep travelers out of harm's way.
UStiA advises that travel insurance offers other important peace-of-mind benefits. If a traveler becomes injured or ill, travel insurance arranges needed medical treatment, reimburses costs not covered by traditional health insurance, and, when needed, provides medical evacuation.
When a traveler or family member becomes ill and has to cancel a trip, travel insurance will reimburse non-refundable expenses. Travel insurance also helps protect personal belongings and baggage while traveling, helps in providing legal assistance when things go wrong overseas, and offers a variety of other benefits to travelers.
Assistance services - included in many travel insurance policies or available separately - aid travelers caught in emergency situations, such as the 2011 uprising in Egypt, or the 2012 Costa Concordia tragedy off the coast of Italy. Services can include providing important safety intelligence, assisting in replacement of lost documents such as passports, and even helping arrange transportation out of a destination deemed unsafe.
To find helpful information on how to stay safe, and tips on travel security, visit http://www.TRIP.ustia.org
. TRIP is an acronym for "Travel Responsibly, Informed, and Protected." This consumer advocacy web site contains articles and timely tips on travel health, safety, and security, including links to resources such as the U.S. State Department and everything from currency conversion to weather and flight information.
For more information, consumer advice on how to shop for travel insurance, and a listing of UStiA member companies, visit the UStiA website, http://www.uatia.org