The Case of the Costly Chicken Pox

by | Feb 2, 2007 | Travel and Dining, Weekly Column

How much do chicken pox cost? Try $530.67 per pock.

That’s what it could have cost me when both the kids came down with chicken pox just before our family’s planned European cruise over Thanksgiving. Even though both cases were mild (only 15 pox between the two kids), we cancelled the trip. The experience reminded me why I always buy trip insurance when booking a cruise.

Most cruise lines require full payment about 90 to 120 days prior to sailing. Much, if not all, of that is typically non-refundable after that point if you cancel for any reason. Most trip insurance will reimburse you for non-refundable deposits, such as cruise costs, airfares, and tour deposits, up to the amount you select for trip cancellation or interruption for a number of situations. In addition, trip insurance will cover the costs of medical and dental expenses, emergency medical evacuation costs, delayed baggage expenses, lost luggage, and travel delays.

The insurance offered by the cruise lines is quite expensive for the coverage provided, so I typically purchase trip insurance from a third party vendor. I shop for travel insurance with an on-line broker, found at www.insuremytrip.com. I’ve used this site to compare travel insurance companies for about a year. They offer a wide array of travel insurance policies. In a search I did recently for an upcoming cruise this summer, they gave me a choice of 22 companies offering package policies, five business policies, 10 travel medical policies, three multi-trip medical policies, 13 medical evacuation policies, and nine flight accident policies.

Insure My Trip also provides the A.M. Best rating, which gives you an idea of the financial strength of the company. I typically purchase a package policy, choosing a company that is A- or better.

Last year, I purchased a travel insurance policy called Travel Guard from AIG, a huge insurer. On that trip, the airlines lost our luggage for three days, forcing us to buy necessities. We had $100 per person delayed baggage coverage, which AIG paid without a hitch.

This year, I switched to a policy called Travelex, offered by Old Republic. They offered considerably more coverage than the Travel Guard policy for about the same price. For example, their delayed baggage coverage is $200 per person per day, up to a maximum of $600. I also purchased $2,000 per person of cancellation coverage, or a total of $8,000 for the family. The premium was $270, which included a $5 handling fee to Insure My Trip.

As it turned out, the coverage I chose was right on the money. Our last-minute cancellation meant we lost $7,960 in non-refundable deposits—an amount equal to $530.67 for each of the 15 chicken pox.

Of course, the big moment with any insurance company is when you submit a claim. Outside of the obvious concern that the company may deny the claim for some unexpected or unanticipated reason found in the small print, there is also the question of whether they will delay payment or only pay a portion of the claim. Old Republic’s process was relatively simple and quick. They did want more information on a $35 dollar deposit we lost with a shore excursion company. Once that was received, they issued a check. It took about six weeks for us to receive a check for the full amount of our claim.

Assuming their rates stay competitive, I will certainly do business with Old Republic again. True, we should be done with chicken pox. That just leaves ear infections, strep throat, broken arms, sprained ankles, etc., etc. I think I’ll keep on buying trip insurance.

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