What about using Tauck's insurance program?

Hi,

I thought I'd start a new thread regarding this. Much like booking air, I typically like to purchase my own trip cancellation policies. I see that Tauck's plan includes the cost of airfare (of course, you can simply figure in the cost of air in the total trip cost for any policy). Has anyone used Tauck's insurance and would recommend it (or not)? Where most of these travel / cruise plans seem to be lacking is the low amount assigned to medical and (especially) emergency evacuation costs. I have an upcoming cruise for which, even though I purchased the company cruise protection plan, I also want to purchase an additional secondary policy utilizing zero as a total trip cost but that will still provide the benefits of the higher medical and evac costs. It didn't occur to me that you can do this until I talked to a rep at a well-known trip insurance website.

Thanks again,
Keith

Comments

  • edited January 2017
    We always take Tauck insurance, but I thought you had to buy it whenever you book the tour. I don't think you can add it later but you should ask, it might be that you can get the insurance within a ten day window. . If you travel a lot, it might be worth you taking a general annual travel insurance and also check any coverage on your credit cards. I've never taken a regular ocean cruise, they don't appeal to me at all, so I cannot comment about travel insurance on those.
    As you obviously need to ask lots of questions, I suggest you book with Tauck directly in the future and avoid the go between. Or find an agent that regularly books people on Tauck tours and likely to be more knowledgeable in Tauck's product
  • We don't usually take insurance (only bought it once). After 10 trips and being in good health, the savings have pretty much paid for a trip at this point, so if we had to write one off we'd just about break even. However, I understand if health considerations and risk aversion prompt you to buy insurance. I have looked at it. Here's some comments:

    British is right. You had to buy Tauck insurance when you booked, if you wanted it. I think you did, but I'm not sure if "the company" refers to Tauck.

    If you look at Tauck's cancellation policy (which varies by tour), if you cancel before the tour starts and don't have coverage, you may only lose part of the tour cost. So the actual benefit may not be that great if you cancel before the tour. On cruise tours (like the one you're on), you may be on the hook for part of the cost, even if you buy the coverage from Tauck. For example, if you cancel less than 45 days before the cruise, you're still out 50% of the cost! Read the details under the "Before you go" section on cancellations. If I were buying trip insurance for a Tauck cruise, I'd go to a third party to get full coverage.

    Many European countries that have socialized medicine offer free emergency health care to visitors, as long as it's not a pre-existing condition. So additional health coverage may not be needed. Check guidebooks for the countries you're visiting for more information.

    If you just want medical evacuation insurance, Medjet Assist offers this coverage ala carte. However, in Europe I think you'd just want to receive care locally, in most cases.

    It's not clear to me if they cover your airfare if you cancel. It's clear that they cover the cost of a new flight if you trip is interrupted, but it doesn't appear to me that you're covered for cancellation. Check with Tauck on this.
  • But Ken, your screen name, you must be a gambler? : ) not everyone is.

    The Guest Protection Plan, like many travel insurance polices has exclusions, deductibles, and fine print. Unfortunately, these days, two of the biggest exclusions, "Acts of War" and "Civil Unrest," are more likely.

    From what I have heard and experienced, however, Tauck provides one of the best policies. We used it and it more than paid for itself for several trips. It can be especially helpful if you book your own flights and have a "covered" situation. Not all reasons for cancellation are covered by any policy.
  • Good point about "Acts of War" and "Civil Unrest"! Extremely sad but you're absolutely right.
  • Keith, in addition to reading the Before You Go info, check out the FAQ page which has additional details on this and other info.

    For our first cruise we had no experience traveling with Tauck so arranged insurance thru USAA. It cost us more than Tauck would have charged, was no better than it and I had to printout and carry with us a 16 page document. Now we use Tauck. Have been fortunate not to need it but I feel better knowing we have it.

    I discovered another benefit of using Tauck recently. If you schedule back to back Tauck tours, you only pay for trip protection once.
  • Alan,

    I thought I should reply to your comments. I'm not trying to be argumentative (please don't take it that way), I just thought I should clarify.

    Though I live in Vegas I'm not a gambler. On average the house always wins. The same is true for insurance. The average benefit from insurance is less than it's cost. That's how casinos and insurance companies make money. Buying insurance has been compared to placing a bet that something bad will happen to you. I don't gamble against the house advantage and I don't take insurance against costs that I can cover if they occur. Both are losing bets.

    Insurance against catastrophic loss is a rational bet. Even though it costs more than the expected benefits, the consequences of a bad occurrence can be disastrous. So I carry liability, medical , auto and homeowners insurance (albeit with high deductibles).

    If you read the benefits of the Tauck policy and consider the odds of occurrence, the house advantage looks pretty big to me.

    People should consider their circumstances and tolerance for risk before buying insurance. Someone who has saved for years for the "trip of a lifetime" should probably consider insurance, since the potential loss would be great for them. Persons with a history of health issues might also consider the insurance. Their higher risk would tilt the bet towards them.

    The one time we took the insurance was when we went to India. The medical evacuation coverage seemed like a good idea in a developing country. Next time though, I might look into medical coverage without the trip insurance.

    If you want to buy insurance, that's fine. Just consider the cost, benefits and the chances that you will have a covered incident.

    Regarding "Acts of War" and "Civil Unrest" while these things are scary, the odds of being involved in such incidents are tiny. Though acts of terrorism are unfortunately on the rise, the odds of a traveler being personally involved remain remote. It is not my intent to diminish the heinous nature of these acts, nor to downplay the suffering of the victims and their families. But you are probably much more likely to die on the freeway on the way to the airport than to suffer injury from such an incident. That being said, I won't be booking flights to Syria, Iraq, Iran or North Korea anytime soon.
  • edited January 2017
    No problem, my mention of Vegas was just a feeble attempt at levity. I realize the odds are in reality against the insured- that is why insurance companies are huge and some of the richest businesses in the world. They have the statistical data which we don't and probably can't easily find. Their main business is to make money, not to help the insured. Everyone has a different situation too. To some, just the peace of mind is worth it. However, in a similar vein, I never buy extended warranties, though my wife got one on her iPhone. For what she pays she could buy a new phone every few years.

    In the discussion of war, civil unrest, and terrorism, it appears these days that there are no clear cut definitions- what is civil unrest to some might be considered terrorism to others. Having been in the "intelligence business" at one time, I have to disagree with you on the odds of a traveler being involved either directly or indirectly. There were tours in Turkey and Istanbul during some of the early disturbances, in Arusha, TZ during a bombing, same in Nairobi when the mall was bombed, Joycesw had her Egypt tour cancelled not much before departure, due to "civil unrest there," etc., etc. With all the new discoveries in Tut's tomb, Valley of Kings, Aswan, the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) about to open, etc. I can't wait for things to quiet down and be safe enough so Tauck can start running tours there again.

    Tauck is not in the insurance business so must rely on an insurance company (administrator) and a separate underwriter(s). I'm sure Tauck attempts to examine available options and select the company who will provide the best coverage and service at the best price, but in the end you are still dealing with an insurance company whose business model is to take your money and give as little of it back as possible. And there is lots of fine print which many people may not understand or may not even read.
  • edited January 2017
    Ken, Alan and all, I totally value all discussions on this forum, whether one disagrees with them or not because there is always a chance there is something you never thought about, or something that might make you change your mind.
    Alan, since I know you had to cancel your trip to Ireland at the last ninute one time, how did the insurance claim work for you, were you out of pocket, was reimbursement more generous than you thought it would be? And I believe Tauck put your insurance premium towards your next tour which is pretty nice.
    We often do not take out trip insurance for our independent jaunts within the US because it's so common to be able to cancel an hotel at the last minute without penalty. We took Global Rescue Insurance for a couple of Sailing trips, but we have never not taken Tauck insurance, most Tauck tours are expensive enough to for it to be too much of a loss for us, our past Tauck trip was upwards of $30,000 and that was just with mainly economy air travel. Also, I keep mentioning having my father die while on vacation, repatriation by plane would have been horrendous, plus paying the funeral services in the country, the hospital bills in intensive care, etc etc. I also know people who have broken limbs on trips,that kind of thing. I bet you I would be that small percentage who did not take insurance and find I became ill and was presented with a huge hospital bill.
  • British wrote:
    Alan, since I know you had to cancel your trip to Ireland at the last minute one time, how did the insurance claim work for you, were you out of pocket, was reimbursement more generous than you thought it would be? And I believe Tauck put your insurance premium towards your next tour which is pretty nice.

    We were very pleased with the painless process and received every cent back, in cash or in kind. You must remember, cancellation for any reason with a refund applies to the cost of the trip, everything else depends on the situation.

    As I said, we had to cancel just days before departure for The Best of Ireland but had the Tauck insurance. We booked our (non-refundable) air directly with Delta (and Aer Lingus for a short flight from London to Shannon). We called Tauck and informed them. They told us where to get the claim forms and who to contact. Literally within days we received a check from Tauck for the amount of the trip.

    We met the requirements of coverage, in our case it was the "hospitalization of a family member," our daughter, even though she is over 21 and married. The policy definition of family member is fairly broad and even includes son/daughter-in-law. Though we provided assistance with their two young children for awhile, this was not a requirement. We contacted the insurer and downloaded the necessary forms. In addition to completing the forms with personal and airline flight information, we had to get a doctor's certification of hospitalization and treatment. We mailed (or faxed?) everything to the insurer and several weeks later received a check for the full airfare.

    Additionally, while the insurance policy premium is normally non-refundable, Tauck surprised us with a letter telling us that they would put it in a "Dream-Saver" account which, if used within one year, could be applied to a future trip (which we did!) I can't say whether this is normal Tauck policy. And finally, another surprise- a few months later, we received another very small check from Aer Lingus- evidently in Ireland, whenever you cancel a non-refundable flight, they are required refund some taxes and fees.

    While we used the refund for our next trip, we consider it money we would have lost otherwise, and it will easily cover the cost of insurance for every trip we will be able to take from now until we are no longer able to travel!
  • edited January 2017
    I just wanted to reply back since I am the OP of this thread. For me personally, I think the potential disadvantages of not purchasing insurance (at least for an expensive trip) outweigh any advantages of not having it. Rather than try to make sure I fully understand everything that the cruise or tour company is offering in their own insurance, I usually just purchase a secondary policy from a company that I am familiar. Any insurance is just that - protection against what could go wrong. I understand Ken's thoughts, but it seems a no-brainer that if I only have to pay (as an example only - not indicative of any Tauck insurance pricing) $1-2k for a trip cancellation policy instead of possibly $20-30k out-of-pocket in the event that I need to cancel for a covered reason, it seems worth it. Yeah, the "house wins" in terms of them getting the money with the probability in their favor that they won't have to pay the full cost of my trip, but for me I can't see taking the chance. IF indeed someone has the funds to cover the trip costs in the event of having to cancel - and, being quite honest, many of us here who do extensive and expensive traveling do have the ability to cover loss - that's fine, and then it does sort of become a game of chance. For those who, as Ken as mentioned, have saved for years to pay for a trip-of-a-lifetime, then cancellation costs could well be as catastrophic as the more serious ones that are covered by health and homeowners policies. It depends on one's personal situation, as has also been mentioned. I have a 94 year-old Mom and a 91 year-old aunt, so you never know. I view it more as placing a bet on the chance that something bad might happen, not that something bad will happen. Anyway, thanks to all for the input. I'll have to review Tauck's plan further and compare it to what I usually buy.
  • edited January 2017
    I couldn't find the full text of the Guest Protection Plan or a link to it on the Tauck website, but if you have taken a Tauck trip before, the Plan will be at the bottom of the Summary of Purchase attachment (MyDocuments.pdf), provided with the reservation confirmation email from Tauck.

    Mine is rotated 90° so it could be a pain to read if you don't download and rotate it with an Adobe program first. I found one easier to read online. I don't know if it is still current. It has the same date, 3/2015, and appears to be the same one we got in late 2015 for our upcoming Peru & Galapagos trip. You can find it at this link.
  • I always purchase that Tauck insurance as its simple and one and done. I feel my time is more valuable to buy it than shopping around but that it me. I've had no experience with the insurance but have a friend who used Tauck's insurance and developed cancer two months before leaving for Africa. She was immediately refunded the entire cost of her tour and the airfare she had booked through Tauck.
  • Covered for any reason. This year we had an international tour cancelled by the tour operator (not Tauck) due to lack of participants. During this experience I had heard either from the travel agent or the insurance company that tour operator cancellation is not a "covered" reason. The tour operator did not have "plan B" alternate tour.
    I did purchase trip protection from the tour operator and finally did recover my tour costs from them. However, they did not cover the airfare costs. Delta gave me a partial credit but it did not cover the seating upgrades. An expensive lesson!
  • Airfare is NOT covered under the Tauck travel protection plan if you purchase it yourself. It IS covered if you purchase it through Tauck. Also, river/small ship cruises are slightly different than land tours. For land tours, all costs are refundable if cancellation occurs before trip departure. For cruises, all costs are refundable except for the travel protection plan.
  • CalKat -- I would check with Tauck about that. We had to cancel a trip several years ago. We had booked the airfare on our own. We canceled for a medical reason and Tauck refunded the full cost of the airfare even though we did not book through them. Also -- if you cancel a land tour -- your travel protection plan is not refunded but rather "banked" and can be used if you book another tour within a year. With cruises the insurance if forfeited.
  • edited July 2017
    judy05 wrote:
    CalKat -- I would check with Tauck about that. We had to cancel a trip several years ago. We had booked the airfare on our own. We canceled for a medical reason and Tauck refunded the full cost of the airfare even though we did not book through them. Also -- if you cancel a land tour -- your travel protection plan is not refunded but rather "banked" and can be used if you book another tour within a year. With cruises the insurance if forfeited.

    Yup. In our case the airfare was refunded by Aon, the insurance company underwriting the Tauck policy.
  • I'm in the middle of the claim process due to the recent Britich Airways disaster. We ultiimately arrived in time to board the ship but missed three days in Stockkholm. There is a lot of fine print, so the info must be read carefully. The penalties for cancellation are 'if you don't buy Tauck insurance'. If you purchase their insurance, when you make your reservation, it will also cover "air" for "covered reasons". The cancellation penalties are also waived. Tauck immediately reimbursed us for the portion of the trip we missed, my claim is being processed with Aon, and when I see the result of that, I will still have a few claims with British Airways. I have fought with BA in the past, so I expect they will be the most difficult ... by far.
  • Thanks for the clarifications. I posted what I was told by Tauck when booking our trips, and that information is specific to pre-trip cancellations, not issues once the trip has started. And yes, for land tour cancellations, the travel protection cost is "banked" for a future trip.
  • Sealord wrote:
    I'm in the middle of the claim process due to the recent Britich Airways disaster. We ultiimately arrived in time to board the ship but missed three days in Stockkholm. There is a lot of fine print, so the info must be read carefully. The penalties for cancellation are 'if you don't buy Tauck insurance'. If you purchase their insurance, when you make your reservation, it will also cover "air" for "covered reasons". The cancellation penalties are also waived. Tauck immediately reimbursed us for the portion of the trip we missed, my claim is being processed with Aon, and when I see the result of that, I will still have a few claims with British Airways. I have fought with BA in the past, so I expect they will be the most difficult ... by far.

    Well I got the results. Aon covered everything. New airline tickets, 'meals', hotels, taxis, up to their contractual maximum for a delay which was $1,000 per person, which is what we got. The total they computed was a little more than that but I think there may have been a pound to dollar conversion problem. I got more than I expected. Between Tauck and Aon I am quite happy other than missing three days of our trip. Still have the EU Regulation 261 penalty fee to deal with, but that is not a big deal. Should get another $600 or so.
  • Thanks for the follow-up.
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