We have many clients and honeymoon couples who are nervous about booking their future travel arrangements in the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As such we felt that it might be helpful to all of you to share our thoughts about how to mitigate the current situation.
While we have always highly recommended that our clients purchase travel insurance, our first word of caution comes from purchasing regular travel insurance. In most cases it does not cover anything related to a pandemic. This type of insurance is more helpful if a traveler cannot travel due to illness, inclement weather, or if the airline has delays which might strand someone.
In these current world times and new situation with the Coronavirus, many of our clients are concerned about the extension of “stay at home” orders in their state, or countries extending their border lockdowns, both of which could impact their travel plans. In this type of situation, we turn to our valued vendors who offer “travel protection”. This “travel protection” is basically a plan that includes not only traditional travel insurance, but also cancellation for any reason up until 24 hours prior to departure. This protection plan does have a few exclusions as well and we would remind you to read over their section on general limitations and exclusions; but, overall, this plan provides the best value and protection for your insurance dollar.
It has always been incredibly important to read the fine print for exclusions. For specific plan information we always recommend contacting the insurance provider directly as each plan also varies by your state of residence. We would like to point out we are not insurance agents or providers and are simply trying to help guide you in the myriad of plans out there for you to choose from.
We have compiled a short list of definitions of the following types of coverage to help explain:
- Trip Cancellation: Reimburses your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip due to a covered reason. Offered by most policies, it’s usually based on the cost of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip.
- Trip Interruption: Reimburses you for the unused, nonrefundable portion of your trip and for the increased transportation costs it takes for you to return home due to a covered reason. It’s offered by most policies, but is usually dependent on the cost of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip.
- Emergency Medical: Provides benefits for losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies that occur during your trip. Offered by most policies, usually with a low cap on emergency dental care.
- Travel-Accident Protection: Coverage for an accident resulting in death or dismemberment while on your trip. Offered by most policies.
- Emergency Medical Transportation: Emergency medical transportation arranges and pays for the cost to medically transport you to an appropriate medical facility to receive care and to get you home after you have received care. Coverage may also pay for the costs of a visitor’s economy-class, round-trip transportation to the covered person’s bedside. Offered by most policies and usually requires preapproval and arrangement by the provider.
- Baggage Loss/Damage: Covers loss, damage or theft of baggage and personal effects. Offered by most policies, usually with a low cap on high-value items such as electronics.
- Baggage Delay: Reimburses the purchase of essential items during your trip if your baggage is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier. Offered by most policies, but some require up to a 24-hour delay before allowing any reimbursement.
- Travel Delay: Reimburses you for additional expenses due to a covered delay. Some policies may also cover lost prepaid trip expenses due to a covered travel delay. Offered by most policies after a 6- to 12-hour delay.
- 24-Hour Hotline Assistance: An assistance team that’s available to help you handle all kinds of travel emergencies. Offered by most policies.
- Rental-Car-Damage Protector: Provides primary collision/loss damage coverage for physical damage to a rental car. Offered by most policies for a per-day, add-on fee.
- Cancel/Interrupt for Any Reason: Provides trip cancellation and interruption coverage for any reason. Offered by some policies, and can be added to some policies for an additional fee.
While we are always happy to make arrangements for future travel, we would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that we will be implementing new requirements for utilizing our services. If you’re wishing to make arrangements with us to travel within the next year, we will need for you to either purchase a travel protection plan or sign a waiver for non-purchase of the travel protection plan. This acknowledgement waiver will simply state that you 1) understand the possible risks to your future travel and any loss of money due to penalties during these unprecedented times and 2) that we are not liable if your trip is cancelled and/or you incur penalties/fees.
We have always advised our clients about all penalties and fees associated with all bookings and these are not new…just frequently overlooked or deemed unimportant as many have mentioned they are “traveling no matter what”. Often, these penalties can be quite high or even completely non-refundable; however, during times like these, they are brought to the forefront as unfortunately pandemic has now become our new reality. Currently many providers have given “waivers”, meaning that they will allow the funds paid to be transferred to another travel time without penalties but this will not last forever nor are all providers being so generous. We must all prepare for our new future in travel when the time comes, all government restrictions are lifted, and we spread our wings and fly out of our “stay at home” orders. We are looking forward to getting back to work and keeping up to date as your trusted Professional Travel Specialists!
This also brings up a great opportunity to, once again, help explain the difference between a Professional Travel Specialist and an Online Travel Agency (OTA), like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Costco etc. As I’m sure you can tell by now, there is a BIG difference.
To break it down to a basic explanation…OTA’s are order-takers, plain and simple, and provide basic access to simple things, such as individual airline, hotel, and car reservations. Most all do not provide any human assistance in times of trouble; or, if they do you could spend many hours, if not days, trying to get a hold of them. I’m sure you’ve all read the horror stories of 7+ hours on hold or multiple dropped calls after many hours. It’s been very eye-opening in the past month for most of the general public as to how some OTA’s operate.
Travel Professionals, like us, have years of experience and knowledge that order-takers do not have. We are constantly attending training in person and online; make recommendations based on firsthand knowledge; work with our consortium’s (Virtuoso) preferred suppliers and deal with customization of every trip from beginning to end; have exclusive deals, offers and upgrades that are not available to the general public online; provide a customer service and emergency service that you do not receive from OTA’s…just to name a few things. We do all of this and do not get paid until after our clients have completed travel – sometimes not for months after. All of us here at Remarkable Honeymoons have been in the industry for decades and pride ourselves in our customer service and caring for all our clients!
We are living in extremely unprecedented times and wish all of our clients good health and we will be here for you when you are ready to plan your next adventure!! If you have any questions about planning your future travel, we’d love to help! If you’re ready to get pricing and learn about our exclusive upgrades through our proud affiliation with Virtuoso, please request a quote today.