Knowing it all or thinking you do

I appreciate that more and more people feel comfortable to research and book their own travel plans. I have said before that just because I can watch a you tube video on doing my own car oil change that I would attempt to do that myself. There are people that have dedicated their lives to such a job and I will pay for that service.

Most travel professionals that book leisure travel (at least that I know) don’t charge a fee for their services. I am in no way saying we shouldn’t charge a fee, but we do make money from the sale so in the end we are benefiting from the business we earn from the sales.

Recently I have been working with a friend of our family, whose travel experience is very minimal. She has a lot of friends who travel, one in particular who is very well travelled – with lots of opinions. Go here, don’t go there, that’s a good deal, this is what you should be paying. You know the type. We all know the type.

I was very happy that we the clients had decided on their trip and we had two lengthy discussions on travel insurance. What are the concerns for the parties involved, pre-existing conditions, medical questionnaires, etc. We sell Manulife insurance, which is one of the countries main insurance providers for Canadian travellers. Premiums were discussed and even though the costs were high, the customer understood the importance of such insurance. Great. Booking completed, client satisfied.

There are two suppliers Sunwing/Signature and Transat holidays that sell a travel waiver. It is not insurance and should not be sold that way. It is a waiver that states you can cancel up to 3 hour prior to your flight and get a refund. Not your money back, as there  are  ** beside this clause. Depending on when you cancel you would get future travel vouchers back, not money. When you take real insurance if you have to cancel you would get money back. This waiver is $50 or $79 if you want medical included. This price is much less than the price I offered to the client. Her friend was appalled that I would offer her friend such high insurance and didn’t I know about the Sunwing waiver?

Of course I know about the waiver. I asked the woman, if she was aware of the fact that you don’t get money back if you cancel? She had no idea what I was talking about. I know what I am talking about. I told her with certainty that I offered my clients what was best for them. This was their first trip like this and if they had to cancel for a medical reason future travel vouchers wouldn’t work for them, they need to be ensured to get their money back. She continued to ‘school’ me on the ins and outs of the travel industry. I did tell her three times that I have been in the travel industry for over 26 years.

My client, a family friend for my whole life was very embarrassed by the phone call and events of the conversation. I asked her if she was okay with my recommendations and she said she was. I was okay with that. I advised her that I don’t recommend the product that the friend was taking, that it really isn’t in her best interest and she was okay with that.

There is something that I find myself repeating over again in this blog – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Leave it to the professional  to recommend what is best for their clients.

If you have any questions about the travel waivers vs. proper insurance please ask  me and I would be more than happy to assist you.

Buyer beware!




Let’s talk about travel insurance

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to travel insurance. To me, both personally and professionally it is something I believe in 100% and to quote a famous American Express ad, I never leave home without it. Even when I am covered with my extended benefits from the workplace, I still purchase it every time.

The call I took yesterday was a man who was upset about his current booking situation. He has (had) a trip booked and his wife had a miscarriage. He was travelling to one of the destinations that have had reported Zika cases. The tour operators were allowing passengers that were pregnant special consideration. If this was your special circumstance, and you had a doctors note confirming pregnancy and advice not to travel, you could cancel your booking. Sadly, since they had miscarried, the note only read that due to the circumstances he was recommending she not travel. Not a valid reason for the cancellation due to Zika.

Here is the part of their story where I come into play. When the husband is speaking to me on the phone he advises me that “we always take travel insurance, it wasn’t offered to me”. Since I wasn’t the one who booked this client, I can’t say for sure if it was or if it wasn’t. What I know for sure is that “we”, travel industry professionals, in Ontario are mandated by TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) to offer insurance with every sale.

Here is the direct quote from their consumer website:

Travel insurance is always recommended; in fact, your Ontario travel agency is required, at the time of booking, to advise you of the availability of trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province health insurance, if applicable. While nobody ever expects to cancel their vacation plans, unexpected situations can occur, and cancellation charges levied by airlines, cruise lines, hotels and tour companies can amount to as much as 100% of the purchase price. Ask your agency about out-of-province health insurance for travel outside of Canada. OHIP may only cover a portion of your expenses if you become ill or are involved in an accident. Make sure that you have adequate coverage for the country that you are planning to visit. Ensure that you carefully review the policy of any insurance before purchase.

I did speak to the agent who booked these specific clients and she confirmed and sent me the email to prove that she had in fact offered them insurance and they did not purchase it. This is significant in this case, as if they had insurance, suffered the miscarriage, been given a note recommending that they should not travel, they would have been covered to cancel.

There are a lot of people that have coverage (or think they do) on their credit cards or through their places of employment. Credit card coverage is something that is becoming more main stream, however, not all coverage is the same, and not all coverage is full coverage.You have to be careful and always read the fine print.

One of the big objections we encounter every day is the ‘extra’ cost over and above the cost of the trip. Like I said at the start of this post, you need to consider it as part of your trip. One thing I hear ALL the time is, “I am going no matter what”, to which I always reply “if you fall on the ice and break your leg the day before your trip, you aren’t going”. Then they say, “well if that is the case I won’t worry about a couple of thousand dollars”. Except, you will. You will be very upset and then try to find blame for the fact that you didn’t buy insurance. Believe me, you will.

Insurance is for the unforeseen circumstances, the same way as you insure your car to drive, or your house that you live in and let’s not get started about life insurance. Insurance is a part of the package with home and auto, and it needs to start being considered as part of the package for your travel packages as well.

I would like to end with something that I believe in strongly, work with a trained travel professional. They are trained to answer your questions about insurance, what the best coverage is for your personal trip and concerns, and they will guide you through the process.

Travel safe, travel smart.