Q –  Really enjoying this new site and the opportunity to ask honest questions without pop-up ads and someone trying to sell me something. We travel for pleasure several times a year now, after retiring two years ago. We’ve done a tour program with National Geographic and we’ve cruised with the French line Ponant (loved it). We have a dedicated  travel advisor and I think we are getting some good advice. But her agency only sells one insurance company and I just don’t know if something as important as insurance coverage should just be automatic.

We are staying away, largely based on your advice, from the supplier travel insurance policies. But how does the consumer pick the best vacation option for their specific trip? Can you please boil it down to the bottom line – what should we be looking for in a travel insurance policy. I am also curious about commission. If I buy a policy from ABC Tours who is taking me to Peru, does that mean that my travel agent is not getting a commission? Do travel agents earn anything when they sell you a travel policy. Love to know how that works and how it influences which policy is being recommended. I don’t  know why you would spend the time maintaining this site – but please don’t stop until we have completed our RTC (retirement travel cycle)

A – Thank you. This is our 38th year. We will be here for your entire RTC! 

There are three things you need to look for when selecting travel insurance. The first two three obvious – the third is not:

Choose an insurance provider that:

01 – Has the strongest demonstrated financial strength. The firm that we recommend most often is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. No “going out of business” concerns.

02 – Never choose a policy that provides less than $500,000 in medical evacuation. Given costs associated with medical evacuations abroad, we consider this the minimum coverage required.

03 – Ask your agent to demonstrate their ability to offer insurance “advocacy”. Can they intervene with the insurer on your behalf if needed? (This tends to eliminate all online sellers) This is the tie-breaker because in the insurance industry, as you may have heard, the inclination is to encourage adjusters to turn down claims whenever they can. You should only purchase insurance from a seller who can demonstrate the ability to be your advocate with the insurance company to request that they re-examine your claim when it is appropriate. 

Anyone, from the cruise line, to the insurance agent, to the travel agent, to the tour operator who ever sells you travel insurance is earning a commission. Be sure of it. That is why the three requirements above are critical in the selection process. If you purchase your travel insurance directly from the insurance provider it works exactly the same as it does when you book a hotel directly, or a cruise etc. They simply charge you the commission anyway and simply pocket it as extra income. 

We hope this helps. Enjoy that RTC!