Thursday, July 24, 2008

Travel Insurance: Avoid These Mistakes!

I just spent $200 too much on insurance because I made a few simple mistakes. And I'll bet you have made them too. But we also saved almost the same amount by being smart about a few things, so I'm not feeling too bad......well OK, I'm still feeling angry about being duped by the insurance advisers.

We went on a trip to Arizona ( loved it). But it was our first time there and we had to rely on some advice from various service reps.

Here are the things we did right, to get the best deals in insurance:
  • We bought a great travel health insurance package through our bank. We made sure it was designed for our nationality ( Canadian) and would give us the best services as well as an emergency flight home, if needed. And we compared policies with other service clubs and credit cards. It turned out our bank had the best deal and guaranteed services.
  • We booked through Expedia and declined the trip cancellation and baggage loss insurance. After all, the vacation package was such a good deal we would not be sacrificing too much if disaster hit and we couldn't go. Also, we came to shop, so the bags would be pretty empty going down!
NOW here is how we got conned into paying too much insurance! THE CAR

Car rental insurance is a tricky thing. Yes yes, we all know that this is how the companies make their profit ( or so the urban folklore says). And yes we were all ready to decline everything thrown at us. But we made one single costly mistake. We didn't do our research specifically for car rental insurance in Arizona. This left us vulnerable to the service advisor.

We managed to decline everything at the front counter, but the company was not going to give up that easy. As we were being led to our car, another advisor worked on us, telling us horror stories of maniac Arizona drivers. Who knew?

Then she started on about some obscure laws in Arizona and how that the insurance on our credit card was invalid. And since we had not phoned our credit card company to ask specifically about renting cars in Arizona, we were hooked.....and signing form after costly form.

We spent a day cautiously driving around, keeping a wary eye out for these maniac Arizonians. All the time, having that sour feeling you get when you know you've been conned. Sure enough, when we got home we found out that we had double paid on the car rental insurance and, to be honest, the worst drivers we saw in Arizona were fellow tourists.....probably also looking for maniacs on the road!

Bottom line then.
  • Do your research before you even begin to book anything.
  • Call all your financial service companies and find out what they offer.
  • Check you credit card companies ( we had free insurance on one card, but not another)
  • Ask the insurance reps SPECIFIC questions. Ask about the specific area you intend to stay in.
  • Ask your travel insurance advisor about your travel health insurance using the most nightmarish scenario you can think of. The fine print on the contracts was obviously written by some lawyer gnome who has never left his cave. I have never been able to figure it out.
  • If you start feeling pressured to take action while doing your research, it could be because that person is on commission. Fair enough, they have to make a living. Just tell them that you are in the research phase and ask how to get back to them specifically, or how they can get credit for the sale if you choose their product.
Do not make my mistakes. I learned the hard way. Next trip will involve a few more phone calls, but it will save me a few hundred dollars.

.........well, OK, it will probably allow more money to go into the Arizona retail economy. Forget maniac drivers....there are some maniac shoppers looking south!

Good Luck in your travels,

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