When you book your trip through a travel agent, the agent will probably offer you the option to purchase a trip protection plan. While it seems like it may be the best option to purchase it through the agent, this is not always true. The trip protection your agent is offering you typically does not give you the full protection that you may need at the lowest price. The best thing to do is compare your options to find the right coverage levels at the right price. Most travelers save time and money by comparing flights, hotels and cruises, and there is no good reason to avoid comparing your travel insurance options as well.
When you purchase trip protection from a travel agent, it typically only covers the services that you also book directly from the travel agent, such as your hotel and flight. However, it probably does not cover other non-refundable third party purchases such as excursions or side trips. This would be money you would lose if you did not purchase comprehensive travel insurance.
A major difference between the types of policies is what types of cancellations are covered. With many travel agent sourced plans, you are very limited on the reasons that you can cancel your trip and receive a refund. You also typically have to cancel at least a few days in advance. However, if you purchase travel insurance from a travel insurance comparison website like TravelInsurance.com, you are generally able to cancel up to the time of your departure. You also have broader reasons for being able to cancel given that you will find an array of plans with varying covered reasons. Sometimes you don’t need to give a reason at all if you purchase a plan with a “Cancel For Any Reason” upgrade. Many travel agent plans don’t even allow for trip cancellation, but rather offer a vacation waiver, which is very different than being refunded your trip costs.
Another reason that a person might purchase travel insurance is for unforeseen medical expenses during their trip. If you purchase trip protection from a travel agent, you typically get limited coverage for your medical expenses. When you compare your options, you will typically find higher coverage limits for medical emergencies, sometimes at a lower price than what is being offered by the travel agent.
You also want to consider what, if any recourse, you have if you are unhappy with the outcome of claims that you file through your agent’s plan. Many travel agents aren’t licensed to sell insurance and your only recourse may be to seek remedies through the civil courts. This can be very time consuming and costly. Travel insurance which is sold from a licensed insurance agent (for example, TravelInsurance.com is licensed in all 50 states) is controlled by each state’s Insurance Licensing Department. If you have problems with your coverage, you can follow up through your state’s agency. They will help you navigate what, if any, recourse you have.
There are many differences between trip protection offered by your travel agent and full travel insurance offered by an licensed insurance agent. While it may be convenient to purchase from your travel agent, that is typically not your best option as it does not afford you the full protection that you need at the best price.