Travel Insurance and Lawsuits, What the Cruise Ships Taught Us

Sun, Jul 14, 2013

General Legal Issues

Some rights reserved by Sean MacEnteeSummer is usually full of travel plans for many Americans. The kids are out of school and everything just seems more carefree. How can you help ensure that your dream vacation does not turn into a disaster?

First off, no one can guarantee your vacation turns out perfectly. However, a little preparation can help it run a little smoother. Start by checking out the weather. Are you traveling somewhere where rain is prevalent? Then keep in mind it might put a damper on your vacation. Going to a theme park? It is going to be hot there—so maybe you should think about a waterpark visit or find a hotel with a good pool.

Then there are events that might be taking place at your venue. Once you have a general idea of where you are going to visit, figure out which events or festivals are taking place and at what dates. They might make your trip more fun or perhaps it will be excessively crowded. In addition, always keep in mind some alternate plans in case a place you plan to visit is closed or not what you expected.

You probably already thought of these common sense suggestions.  Overall, they cover the little things. But, what about the unforeseen circumstances like illness, mechanical failure (think cruise ships), hurricanes, or even something terrible like riots? What can you do about that?

Travel insurance might be helpful for certain situations. It often varies by carrier. Always get different quotes and talk about the different options with your travel agent or do a little research yourself. Make sure you pick the one that fits your budget, your trip, and your personal needs. Moreover, make sure you understand what it does not cover. Because sometimes you will be seriously disappointed in it and may not even need it.

This article from Investopedia (and the Florida Department of Financial Services website) explains a little more about what travel insurance can do for you. There are several different categories of travel insurance—covering medical problems while traveling or preventing traveling, trip cancellation, or accidents. There is also a US Travel insurance Association that has lots of helpful information on its website. Their FAQs section is especially helpful in learning more about the benefits and/or exclusions of travel insurance.

We all remember the cruise ship troubles of early 2013. And while the cruise ships did make efforts to make amends, lawsuits abound. This article from Reuters discusses why the passengers might have a tough time creating a successful lawsuit.  It seems the tickets and other paperwork come with numerous restrictions.

Reading the fine print is very important when arranging all types of travel plans. Make sure you understand what policies your tickets or arrangements come with. Make sure you understand when and if you can cancel them. Would travel insurance help you with a problem like the one the cruise ship passengers had? Also, keep in mind that sometimes your health insurance or auto insurance will not cover certain situations in certain places you might travel and make sure you know what to expect and if there is anything you can do about it.

If you are traveling to another country, keep an eye on the political climate if that is remotely a concern for that area. You do not want to be caught in a situation of civil or political unrest.  Make sure you know what to expect and how to plan for the potential for dangerous situations.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith is a Lakewood Ranch, Florida attorney with SmithLaw Attorneys. He concentrates in bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area. Call 941 907-4774 to learn more and to ask about our free consultations.

Image: Some rights reserved by Sean MacEntee

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