Wednesday, 3 December, 2008 9:55 PM
New Survey Finds Holiday
Travelers Don't Know Travel Insurance Needs or Coverage
Misinformed on Coverage for Lost Luggage, Car Rentals, and Emergency
rental car facility.
VA — As millions of Americans hit the roads and log
in flight miles at hundreds of airports to criss-cross the globe
for the holiday, an alarming percentage don’t fully understand
key aspects of their insurance coverage, according to a new national
survey on travel insurance issues by Trusted Choice® and the
Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”).
For the survey, respondents were asked if they thought that when
they rent a personal travel car their personal auto insurance policy
covers any damages they may cause to the vehicle and other related
expenses. They were also asked if their own insurance policies would
cover lost luggage that contained gifts and if they are always covered
in the event that they become ill or injured no matter where they
are located during holiday travel. An alarming percentage, ranging
from 30 to 75%, either didn’t think they were covered by their
current policies in these situations or admitted they didn’t
“With so many people traveling for the holidays, it is imperative
that they understand their insurance needs and rights before leaving
home,” says Big “I” President & CEO Robert
A. Rusbuldt. “We advise they consult with their Trusted Choice®
independent insurance agent to discuss their current policies and
what do to in the event that they need to file a claim while on
“As our research shows so frequently, many consumers don’t
fully understand their insurance policies,” says Madelyn Flannagan,
Big “I” vice president for education and research. “Many
consumers do not know when they may already be covered or where
they might have gaps while on vacation.”
“The good news for consumers is that homeowner’s insurance
policies may cover lost property, car insurance policies often offer
the option of rental coverage, and medical policies usually have
clauses that explain where and when you are covered,” adds
The Big “I” and Trusted Choice® provides the following
tips for holiday travelers.
WHAT IF AN AIRLINE LOSES YOUR LUGGAGE CONTAINING HOLIDAY
The IIABA survey found that about 75% of homeowners did not think
or did not know if they would be covered in the event that an airline
lost their luggage containing holiday gifts. Actually, most homeowners
or renters insurance policies do provide worldwide coverage for
most belongings. Additionally, some airlines do have reimbursement
policies in the event that they lose your luggage. If you purchased
the lost gifts with a credit card, you may have some level of protection
with your issuers. Photographing the contents of your suitcase may
also help in the event of a loss. Before purchasing baggage insurance,
check your current policies. It may be a waste of money.
WHEN YOU RENT A PERSONAL TRAVEL CAR, DOES YOUR CURRENT
CAR INSURANCE POLICY COVER ANY DAMAGES YOU MAY CAUSE TO THE VEHICLE
AND OTHER RELATED EXPENSES?
The IIABA survey found that nearly one third of consumers do not
think or do not know if their current policies cover them in a rental
vehicle. Actually, most personal auto insurance policies provide
protection for any liability you incur for injuries or property
damage you cause to others within the U.S. Driving a rental car
is considered to be the same as driving your own vehicle for liability
DAMAGE WAIVER: It’s not usually necessary to purchase a
Liability Damage Waiver from the rental car agency since you usually
already have coverage under your own insurance. Always request
a copy of the rental agreement to review ahead of time with your
independent insurance agent.
DAMAGE WAIVERS: Rental car agencies typically try to sell “Collision
Damage Waivers” (CDW) for about $8 - $15 per day. These
waivers are not insurance. In effect, a CDW is simply a promise
made to the rental car agency that they won’t make you repair
or replace a damaged or stolen vehicle. If you already carry collision
and comprehensive coverage under your own personal auto policy,
your insurance will extend to the rental car. Consumers need to
carefully evaluate their existing coverage and discuss whether
or not purchasing a CDW is appropriate for them.
CDWs MAY BE APPROPRIATE: There may be gaps in the coverage your
insurance policy provides for rental cars. For example, many car
rental companies may hold you responsible for the loss of use
of a damaged rental car. Rental car companies may charge you the
daily rental rate for every day the car is undergoing repairs.
While many auto insurance policies will pay “loss of use”
charges, those that do set limits. There are other expenses that
most auto policies do not cover. One example is diminished value
which can amount to several thousand dollars. Consult your independent
insurance agent to find out what’s best for your travel
TRAVEL: As a general rule, when traveling to a country other than
Canada and renting a car, you will have to purchase auto insurance
in the country where you will be driving. Some personal umbrella
policies may provide liability coverage for rental cars abroad;
few will cover damage to the rental car itself. Again, seek professional
expert advice from an independent agent before you leave home.
THE VEHICLE: An important way to protect yourself when renting
a vehicle is to check over the car carefully for damage in the
presence of a representative of the rental car company before
you leave the lot and when you return it. Request all prior damages
be noted in writing. Car renters have been known to receive damage
claims from rental car companies weeks after turning in vehicles.
There is no way to prove your innocence at that point.
IF YOU NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION OUT-OF-STATE OR IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY?
The IIABA survey found that more than 35% of respondents did not
think or did not know if they were covered in the event that they
became ill or injured no matter where they were located. Most individual
and employer-provided health and medical insurance policies cover
you when you are injured or become sick no matter where your injury
or illness occurs for short recreational trips. In general, major
medical health insurance plans sold in the U.S. will provide coverage
for emergency medical services you require while traveling. Still,
insurance companies cannot guarantee the quality of care that is
available wherever you travel and some policies have territorial
TRAVEL: While the medical services provided in the U.S. may be
among the finest in the world, not all facilities and practices
may offer the standard of care or access to the latest medical
technologies that you may expect. Therefore, travelers should
take some time to find out what is available in the area where
they will be traveling and contact their independent insurance
agent to assess just how well their insurance coverage will respond
to medical emergencies away from home.
TRAVEL: When evaluating insurance policies for a brief trip or
extended stay abroad, it is important to understand any limitations
in coverage that each prospective policy might impose. For example,
it is not unusual for "Foreign" (called foreign even
though it’s purchased here at home) health insurance to
exclude coverage for injuries that occur while participating in
hazardous activities. Ask questions and understand exactly what
you are buying and what is covered.
SECURITY CONSIDERATION: Those who rely on the Social Security
Medicare program should know that it does not cover hospital and
medical services outside of the U.S. Before you leave the country,
learn what medical services your health insurance will provide
while you are abroad and consider the purchase of additional insurance
was conducted for Trusted Choice® via telephone by International
Communications Research (ICR), an independent research company in
Media, Pa. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 1021
households were conducted in November 2008. More information about
ICR can be obtained at http://www.icrsurvey.com.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest
and largest national association of independent insurance agents
and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents,
brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses
that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance
companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property,
casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products.
Web address: www.independentagent.com.
Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Inc.