More Crime Overseas? Will Travel Insurance Let You Cancel?

As crime overseas is on the news more, a growing concern is should you cancel your travel plans? And more importantly, will travel insurance pay your cancellation fees? When you picked out your tourist destination, you probably selected it for the white sandy beaches and the tropical vibes. Maybe you didn’t mind that it stated, “Non-refundable” because you had no plans to cancel at the last minute. You're exhausted and need a getaway. Who can blame you? That is until you turn on the news.

Zika virus in the Caribbean. Measles outbreaks in the U.S. Tourists robbed in Jamaica. Mysterious tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic. It’s enough to have you want to cancel your trip altogether. But, there are ways to protect your trip and stay safe abroad.

Here are a few tips about travel insurance benefits and ways to stay safe overseas.

Concerns Over Increased Crimes, Unexplained Deaths and Tourists Illnesses

Travel insurance for trips to the Dominican Republic are up six hundred percent versus a year ago. With growing safety concerns, more tourists are concerned about their safety abroad. The Caribbean has had unexplained deaths at hotels in recent weeks. And, the FBI is currently investigating nine recent deaths in the Dominican Republic. These weren’t at run-of-the-mill hotels either. They were beach-front, all-inclusive hotels that have travellers concerned if the Caribbean is safe.

The Dominican Republic has been in the spotlight in recent weeks because of nine suspicious deaths there in the past year. While over six million visitors go to the Domincan Republic every year, just over three million are from Canada and the United States. A travel advisory is in place for the Dominican Republic and set to level two for exercising increased caution.

Aside from the Dominican Republic, some tourists in the U.S. have found hidden cameras set up their bedrooms and bathrooms. In Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, tourists have been robbed at gunpoint and knifepoint. What’s alarming is the increase in crime-related incidents on hotel grounds where travellers should feel the safest. And, many tourists are taking actions to protect their trip and safeguard their vacation and holiday packages.

Travel Insurance and Trip Protection

Many tourists are taking precautions when planning their vacations. They are purchasing travel insurance and it can protect you on your holiday or vacation in several ways.

Depending on the type of policy purchased, the benefits may include:

  • Flight cancellation, trip cancellation and flight delay protection.
  • Coverage for lost or damaged baggage.
  • Coverage if medical evacuation is required.
  • Emergency medical coverage if you become sick while travelling abroad or need emergency medical care.

Trip Cancellation Coverage

A part of travel insurance and cruise insurance coverage is trip cancellation protection. There's also a special 'Cancel For Any Reason' coverage. Trip cancellation coverage is typically included in a comprehensive travel insurance policy. While policies vary, most will reimburse one hundred percent of prepaid expenses. And, some reimburse non-refundable amounts.

Trip cancellation insurance can protect you if:

  • There’s a sudden illness or death of you or someone travelling with you.
  • A person that’s a non-family member is hospitalized or passes away and you need to cancel your trip.
  • A weather-related reason or flight issue causes a disruption to your trip or takes place back at home.
  • You legally have to cancel for specific court-related reasons.

Cancellation for Any Reason (CFAR ) Coverage

Another aspect of travel insurance is the cancellation for any reason (CFAR) coverage. This is not included with every travel insurance plan and it may cost extra. If you don’t see this listed with standard policies, you might have to request it as an add-on to your travel insurance coverage.

The benefit is you don’t have to list a reason for cancelling your trip. You might add this protection if you’re travelling to an area where severe weather can affect your travel. Or, if the area is experiencing political upheaval or a travel advisory is in place. The drawback with this benefit is it might have specific stipulations you have to adhere to.

These might include:

  • It might only be offered a specific number of days before you make your initial payment for your trip.
  • You might have to purchase insurance for the full cost of your trip.
  • You may be limited in the cancellation time frame, i.e., you might only have until two to three days to cancel before your travel dates.
  • Your reimbursement might be limited to fifty or seventy-five percent of what you paid for your trip.

How to Stay Safe When You Travel

Before you make reservations to a particular area there are a few points to consider. These can help you stay safe during your trip and avoid trip cancellation, flight and hotel fees.

Before your trip:

  • Research the area you want to visit. Read local reviews and local news. Check the country’s ministry of tourism website for safety tips and any travel advisories or precautions.
  • Research if vaccines or infectious diseases are an issue. The U.S. and Caribbean have had problems with measles, mumps and the Zika virus.
  • Know what areas to avoid. Parts of the U.S. have warm, standing water that has included the bacteria Necrotizing Fasciitis. Other areas are prone to alligators and crocodiles.
  • When making reservations, purchase travel insurance first to protect your trip dates.
  • When booking hotels and flights, use a credit card that offers travel protection to safeguard your trip.
  • Read up on “what to avoid”. Areas like the Caribbean have had problems with hotel thefts, credit card fraud and prostitution.
  • Stick with name brand hotels. If you book through third-party sites, read the reviews from other travellers. Tourists have found hidden cameras in their rentals.

During your trip:

  • Stay on the hotel grounds if it’s all-inclusive (food and drinks included). When booking excursions, book tours through your hotel. If you’re on a cruise, only book excursions through the ship. You might pay a little more but they’re extra careful about getting you back to the port in time.
  • Always use the room safe. If there's no safe, buy a Master Lock and store your valuables in your suitcase. Never wear flashy jewellery or display a lot of cash. And, never travel off the property alone.
  • Watch out for "friendly" people while away. The Dominican Republic has had problems with prostitutes that pretend to be friends only to rob the person once inside their hotel rooms.
  • Avoid “open” beverages. Cover bar drinks and if you walk away to use the restroom, refresh your drink. This helps you avoid the date-rape drug, Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine or Molly that can be added to drinks.
  • If you feel sick, tell someone. In one trip to the Caribbean, carbon monoxide (a silent gas) was leaking from the back of a tour boat making people sick. In a hotel in the Caribbean, pesticides made people very sick because an adjoining room was being fumigated.
  • Never travel using a debit card. It's better to use a credit card (preferably one with miles and points for discounts) if you have to dispute a charge. If you don’t have a credit card, buy one that you can preload.

Are You Ready to Find the Best Travel Insurance Rates?

Travelling overseas can be an exciting time especially when you're ready to take a long break or holiday. But, to safeguard your trip, research the area first and purchase travel insurance to protect your trip. Purchase travel insurance that includes cancellation coverage if you need it. And, then go have the best time away. For questions or if you want to find the lowest rates for travel insurance, contact Kanetix.ca.

With Kanetix.ca, you can compare travel insurance from leading insurers in Canada (and then go plan that fun excursion!).