July 7, 2009

Insuring Against The Worst

It's hard enough to predict what will happen this afternoon, much less what will be going on six months from now. This is why many golf-tour operators recommend their customers buy travel insurance. These policies are designed to cover your nonrefundable expenses should something get in the way of your getaway.

This insurance is generally sold as a package deal that includes reimbursement for lost or damaged luggage, medical expenses and more. The trip cancellation/trip interruption part of these policies is key, especially on trips overseas, when big amounts of money are involved. If you need to cancel or come home early, you'll get your money back.

The cost of this coverage depends on the price of your trip and, in some cases, your age. Travel Guard's "Tee Tour and Travel" policy, which has a larger-than-normal provision for baggage reimbursements, would cost $213 for a 48-year-old on a $5,000 vacation. A 32-year-old would pay $190, a 64-year-old $351.

Many golf-tour operators market these policies themselves. If you want to compare quotes from several reputable carriers, try the website insuremytrip.com. However you do it, most carriers will cover pre-existing medical conditions if you buy a policy within two weeks of making your trip deposit.

Jeff Hamilton, president of Florida-based tour operator Golfpac Travel, estimates only 5 percent of his customers traveling within the United States buy travel insurance, compared to 20 percent of his customers going overseas. He wishes the numbers were 100 percent in both cases -- and not just because he gets a small cut when selling the policies. "I just really believe people should have this insurance. I can't tell you how often trips get canceled or cut short because somebody gets sick or somebody back home dies."