With continued flight cancellations and imposed travel restrictions, it's important to know what travel insurance covers.
As reported cases of coronavirus increase, the outbreak is stoking fears among travelers.
Several countries, including the U.S., have imposed travel restrictions that include quarantines to contain the virus. At least 73 airlines have canceled or limited flights to China. And now cruise lines have begun to take notice following a recent outbreak on a ship in Japan.
Given these developments, consumers may be wondering whether travel insurance will protect them in case they cancel their trip, become sick while abroad, or if their flight is grounded.
But consumers need to understand that their travel policy doesn’t protect them from everything. So it helps to find out ahead of time what is and isn’t covered.
Cancellation coverage? Don’t count on it
Tour operators and travel insurance brokers are reporting an increasing number of requests from customers asking to change their travel plans. Meanwhile, many U.S. airlines, including United, America and Delta, have canceled several flights to China.
Consumers may be surprised to learn that in either situation, their travel policy probably wouldn’t cover them.
Most travel insurance is designed to protect you in case you need to cancel a trip, lose belongings, or require medical attention. But for cancellations related to coronavirus, only certain reasons qualify. Here’s a breakdown.
Airline cancels flight: Not usually covered
Reimbursing a canceled flight is generally the responsibility of the airline — not the insurer. The same goes for cruise lines, rail companies, or any other transportation provider that cancels because of coronavirus or any other reason.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the transportation provider will cover all expenses. Airlines, for example, are not required to refund canceled flights and may limit the extent of the reimbursement. Fare policies vary, so it’s a good idea for travelers to review them before booking a flight.
Traveler chooses to cancel a trip: Not covered
Travel insurance will cover consumers who have to cancel their trip for reasons including adverse weather, a natural disaster, jury duty, an act of terrorism, or the travel company going out of business. But it won’t protect travelers who cancel because they are worried about the coronavirus.
Traveler contracts coronavirus and has to cancel: Covered
Travelers are protected if they have to cancel a trip because of personal sickness or injury, or the sickness, injury or death of an immediate family member.
Most standard policies will cover cancellation or interruption if the traveler is placed under quarantine, or if the destination is placed under a mandatory evacuation.
Although standard policies don’t cover all cancellations, some travel policies offer “cancel any reason” provisions or flight delay benefits that will provide reimbursement. Again, here’s where reading the fine print comes in.
Illness protection — it’s in the details
The good news for consumers is that most policies protect travelers who become sick while abroad. But the details of the policy matter.
Travel insurance is intended to cover medical costs abroad. As long as the policy includes medical coverage, the traveler is protected should he or she require medical care, hospitalization, or a medical evacuation while in a foreign country.
But travelers need to understand the stipulations of their policy from the outset. Here are some considerations:
Primary or secondary payer?
A secondary payment policy is designed to pay for costs that the traveler’s personal insurance does not cover. This may mean the traveler has to pay deductibles and co-pays out of pocket. A primary payment policy, however, serves as the first payer for any medical costs that arise.
All policies have a maximum they will pay, and many also have deductibles and other limitations.
Policies may exclude coverage for certain situations, such as risky activities. So thrill-seekers like skydivers and bungee jumpers might be out of luck.
A separate health policy, or rider, may be helpful for covering things a standard policy might exclude (like that skydiving expedition). A traveler may be able to purchase a rider to extend coverage in case of injury. A rider for foreign medical care coverage might also be useful, although those types of provisions are rare.
In most cases, a standard travel policy is sufficient. There are several types of policies with different levels and coverage for all sorts of travel. Some policies may be specific to cruises, where it may become critical to evacuate to a hospital. Other policies are geared more toward adventure travel.
Riders are meant to provide coverage that’s missing from a primary policy. So if a policy excludes coverage for dangerous activities such as bungee jumping, a traveler may be able to purchase a rider to extend coverage in case of injury.
The headlines may paint a scary picture of the coronavirus, but it helps for U.S. travelers to keep facts and figures in perspective.
As of Feb 25, 2020, there have been more than 80,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. Of those, 77,780 were reported in China, where the outbreak originated.
And although some U.S. airlines have canceled flights, bear in mind that almost all of these cancellations involve flights to and from China. The U.S. has temporarily barred entry for anyone traveling from China who isn’t a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or immediate family member of either.
Travelers planning a trip to the Western Pacific region may want to give more thought to their insurance coverage. For travelers who are headed anywhere else in the world, chances are they’ll be in good shape with a standard policy.
The key is for travelers to determine their actual risk, understand what they are trying to cover, and then find a policy that accomplishes that.
Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of people in the U.S. die from carbon-monoxide (CO) poisoning—and the invisible, odorless gas sickens thousands more.
The numbers seem even more tragic when you consider that most of these deaths and illnesses are preventable. Here are tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help protect yourself and your loved ones at home and work.
In general, the same precautions for homes apply here, but there are a few additional considerations for the workplace, particularly one where gas-powered machinery is used:
Whether you’re at home or work, always be on the lookout for symptoms of CO exposure: They include dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and nausea. If you suspect an issue, leave the area as soon as possible and call 911—because when it comes to CO, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You devote months to planning, working out every detail for what should be a perfect event. Unfortunately, even the best planned events are at the mercy of the unexpected. Like a flood that ruins your venue. Or a caterer who inexplicably goes bottom up. And chances are, you'll still be on the hook for all or most of the costs. Thankfully, special event insurance can help protect what you've invested in your event should the unexpected put a dark cloud over your big day.
WHAT IS SPECIAL EVENT INSURANCE?
Special event insurance helps cover financial losses that may occur when an accident, extreme weather, illness or a problem with a key vendor puts a stop to your private event. Policies often cost less than you might expect and typically offer two types of coverage:
Event cancellation coverage reimburses you for lost deposits and other charges when unforeseen circumstances cause you to cancel or postpone your function. This type of coverage may extend to special gifts, attire (lost wedding bands, for instance) and damaged photo and video files. It does not, however, cover a change of heart.
Event liability coverage helps protect you from financial loss if you're held responsible for an accident that hurts someone or causes property damage at your event. You may even be covered if one of your guests creates havoc. Many venues now require you to have liability protection before you can even book there.
WHAT TYPES OF FUNCTIONS ARE COVERED?
Events that are covered by special event insurance include but are not limited to:
WHEN SHOULD I BUY SPECIAL EVENT INSURANCE?
It's a good idea to purchase a policy as soon as you begin making deposits, because unexpected issues can crop up at any point. That said, you need to buy event cancellation coverage at least 14 days before your function date and liability coverage at least one day prior. You can buy both up to 24 months in advance.
No one wants to think about something unpleasant when planning an important day, but it's nice to know there's a policy that can help protect you from the unexpected.
Call Theodore & Associates today to talk about how you can help safeguard your big day!
Everyone knows why life insurance is important, but many of us choose to ignore the reality of what would happen if we were to die suddenly without the proper protection. The results could be devastating for your surviving family members, leaving them with a large bill for your final expenses, or even worse, loss of the family home because they can no longer cover the mortgage.
If you don’t currently have a life insurance policy, you are not alone. According to Life Insurance Statistics and Facts, which is a report put out by the life insurance industry, about 43% of the population don’t own a life insurance policy in any amount. Unfortunately, the study found that most of us are in desperate need of a life insurance policy. Nearly 1/3 of Americans would feel the loss of the primary earner in the household within the month.
We gathered a few stories to highlight the importance of life insurance. While these stories are fictional, they are based on very common situations.
Mary and Steve have a 24-year-old daughter named Amy who took out $150,000 in private student loans to fund her law school degree. Her parents co-signed the loans, wanting to give Amy a shot at her dream career.
Amy graduated from law school, joined a great law firm, had a baby and started paying off her student loans. When she died at the age of 34 from breast cancer, her parents suddenly became responsible for about $120,000 (the balance on her loans) and their 2-year-old granddaughter.
Because they co-signed the loans, Mary and Steve were responsible for repaying the loan balance. In some cases, the loan documents may include an acceleration clause that will bring the entire balance due at death. Mary and Steve could not afford to pay off the loan and had to sell their own home to settle their daughter’s debt.
While no parent ever wants to take out a life insurance policy on their own child, if you have co-signed their loans, and paying off the balance of those loans would be financially devastating; a life insurance policy can protect you from financial ruin.
A 30-year term life insurance policy on a 25-year-old woman (Amy’s age when she graduated from law school) would be very affordable and would have saved the day for Mary, Steve and their granddaughter.
1. Insurance Through Work Isn't Enough
Scott and Trish were happily married with two kids. Scott had a great job that he loved and was pulling down $150,000 a year. His employer provided two years' salary in life insurance, which Trish (who handled the finances) thought was sufficient until she talked to a friend of hers who was an insurance agent.
Her agent friend warned her that any coverage through work is always a nice bonus, but it’s never a good idea to rely on it. In the event that Scott were to quit, be fired or be laid off, his life insurance coverage would go away, leaving them completely exposed, and if 10 years had gone by, coverage would be much more expensive because Scott was now 10 years older.
Most insurance experts recommend keeping your life insurance separate from any coverage offered by work. Consider work-related life insurance icing on your insurance cake.
Trish took her friend's advice, and purchased a $750,000 term life insurance policy with a 25-year term. This coverage level would give her enough money to pay off their mortgage, put the kids through school and give her a bit of breathing room if the worst were to happen to Scott.
2. Don’t Leave Your Kids Holding the Bag
Kelly, a single mother, always thought it would be a good idea to buy life insurance to protect her children, but something always seemed to get in the way. Money was tight, or time was tight and she just never got around to it.
Years later, Kelly purchased a small home; her daughter was then 18 years old and her son was 14. While she didn't exactly live paycheck to paycheck, her budget was pretty tight and didn't allow her much room for savings.
One night while driving home from work, Kelly was struck head-on by a distracted driver. She died instantly. While Kelly’s children were forced to deal with the tragic loss of their mother, they also had to face the fact that she left behind only a few thousand dollars in the bank and no life insurance, leaving them essentially broke after covering the cost of a very basic funeral.
That is why life insurance is important. Nobody knows what is coming around the corner. If you die unexpectedly, you can leave your spouse or children in a very tight spot.
Term life insurance is extremely affordable. A 20-year policy with a death benefit of $500,000 for a healthy female can cost as little as $25 a month.
3. Life Insurance Can Save a Business If a Key Employee Dies
John started a tech company when he was 20 years old. Over the years he grew it into a multi-billion business that was consistently on the cutting edge of technology, introducing many industry-disrupting inventions. Even though John now employed thousands, he was very hands-on and had personally come up with most of their major breakthroughs.
John’s board of directors was concerned that if something happened to John, the company would suffer a tremendous financial loss. The board felt that a key man insurance policy was needed. A key employee life insurance policy is put in place to protect a business from losses if an invaluable employee dies.
The company decided to take out a very large life insurance policy on John, over his strenuous protests. John felt that he was in fine shape and would live to a ripe old age. Unfortunately, John was wrong. He suffered a major heart attack and died a few years after the policy went into effect.
Sales and the stock price immediately plummeted after his death, and the death benefit from the life insurance policy kept the company afloat for the next 12 months while the new CEO rebuilt investor trust and got the company back on track.
4. Stay-at-Home Parents Need Insurance Too
Mike and Stacy have been married for ten years, and for most of that time, Mike has been lucky enough to stay home with the kids while Stacy has been the primary breadwinner. While Stacy earns a good living, she would struggle to cover the cost of a nanny or other childcare provider if something were to happen to Mike.
Mike provides a variety of services to the family. He takes care of childcare, transportation, managing the household and their finances. He also deals with repairs and maintenance for their home. Mike also earns a small income doing handyman services around the neighborhood.
They decide that in the event something happened to Mike, a life insurance policy would ensure that Stacy would have enough money to hire the necessary help or take a few years off to stay at home as the family learns to cope with the loss.
Sarah purchases a 20-year term policy with a death benefit of $750,000 that will give her the financial means to replace the services Mike provided for the family as well as cover the cost of sending the kids to college.
5. Life Insurance Can Ensure Your Business Survives
Todd and Chris started a business together and over the years it grew into a successful enterprise. Their financial advisor recommended using whole life insurance policies to make sure that if one partner died, their family would be taken care of, and the business would survive the loss.
Todd purchased a $1 million whole life policy on Chris (and made the payments) and vice versa. Years later Todd was killed by a drunk driver. Chris received the death benefit from his life insurance policy on Todd, which he used to buy Todd’s share of the business from Todd's family.
This arrangement allowed Todd's family to be fairly compensated for his half of the business, while also allowing the business to survive without taking the major financial hit of paying off Todd's family.
This is called a buy/sell agreement and is a fairly common arrangement for small business partners.
Top Reasons Why Life Insurance Is So Important
Hopefully these stories have shown you just how important life insurance and "insuring your love" is for the special people in your life. If you still have doubts, here are some reasons why life insurance is a necessity, not an option:
Where Can I Get Life Insurance?
If any of these stories struck a chord and you are considering a life insurance policy, you are in the right place. Theodore & Associates can help you assess your specific risks and financial goals before recommending a policy. Whether you need a term policy, a permanent policy or a combination of both, our agents will do all of the legwork for you, gather quotes, and present you with a variety of options that will provide the protection that you and your family need.
Start protecting your family today, contact Theodore & Associates now.
For more information, please visit Trusted Choice here.
Adam and Bob were best friends since junior high school. They shared an apartment in college, majored in the same field, and even went to work for the same company. When they were in their mid-30s, they came up with a great idea for a product that would become very popular, and the two decided to venture out with their own business. They decided to form a partnership with each owning 50%. The business soon began to flourish.
Two weeks after his 47th birthday, the seemingly healthy Adam suffered a massive heart attack and died. Upon his death, Adam’s ownership in the company was transferred to his wife, Cathy. Having known Bob for many years, Cathy left control of the company to him and the business continued to prosper.
Two years later, Cathy met Donald and after a whirlwind romance, the two were married. Donald became very interested in the stock in Cathy’s late husband’s business. Eventually he would begin having ideas about how the company could be better run. Although he had no experience to back his ideas, being a good wife, Cathy would make these suggestions to Bob. The relationship between the partners began to suffer from this tension.
Not long after Cathy and Donald’s third anniversary, Cathy was diagnosed with cancer and soon she also passed away. Like many people, Cathy had failed to plan properly for her future, and under community property laws, her ownership transferred to Donald at her death. Donald was now a 50% owner of the company with an equal authority in how the business was run.
Bob and Donald rarely agreed on the operation of the company and although he had years of experience and knowledge far superior to Donald’s, Bob was unable to override Donald’s ideas. Time spent on these disagreements, dissatisfied customers and mounting costs would all prove too much for the company, and on the 20th anniversary of Adam and Bob opening the doors of the company, they would be closed for good as the owners filed for bankruptcy.
A Simple Solution
A very simple yet often overlooked strategy could have helped avoid this unfortunate end to the previously happy story. A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding clause in a partnership agreement that controls what happens if one of the partners dies or otherwise needs to leave the partnership.
Typically, the agreement sets a price and gives the surviving partner the option to buy the deceased partner’s share from their estate. In the story above, this would have let Bob simply buy Adam’s ownership interest, allowing him to maintain full control of the business and avoid the other problems.
This strategy runs into difficulty at the time of the partner’s death if the surviving partner does not have sufficient capital to make the purchase. Keyperson life insurance helps to solve this problem. With this product, the business buys a life insurance policy, equal to the agreed upon purchase price, on the life of each of the partners with the other partner listed as beneficiary. Death benefit of the insurance is then used to pay the deceased partner’s estate and transfer ownership.
With the business listed as the owner of the policies, they are considered business assets and premiums are allowable business expenses. This allows the partners to successfully plan for the future of the business while receiving some valuable tax benefits as well.
For more information, please visit the Life Happens blog.