Emergency Medical Airlift from our Cruise Ship

Travel Protection… it’s not about a few extra bucks commission!

Hey, Shawn Power here…

…normally Nancy & I write our blogs together but today I figured I’d write this on my own as it directly relates to what I do for a living and I deal with it every day when booking Cruises for my clients.

I’m talking about Travel Protection… one of those “necessary evils” in life.

Like all types of Insurance, Travel Protection can seem like nothing but an expense if you don’t need it but it can be a true “life saver” if you ever do need it.

And although I’ve booked Cruises for thousands of people over the years and have seen more times then I can count where Travel Protection has saved my clients a ton of money, nothing ever showed me the importance of Travel Protection more then what I experienced 5 days ago on my most recent Cruise as I witnessed a guest in distress being air-lifted off of a ship (that was smack dab in between Haiti & Cuba) by the Coast Guard!

(Here’s a look at what we saw from our Balcony as a guest in distress had to be airlifted from our Cruise ship)

How about you… are you one who believes in the importance of having adequate Travel Protection when you go on your cherished Cruise Vacations or are you one of those who believes “nothing will happen to me” when you travel?

Nancy & I definitely used to be the “nothing will happen to me type” when we first got together 9 years ago and we didn’t ever consider spending money on Travel Protection back then.  But after I started selling Cruises several years into our relationship and I saw a lots of my clients each year having all kinds of emergencies… now we wouldn’t consider ever traveling without being fully protected as the last thing we ever want is to be in financial ruins over needing treatment in a foreign country, on a Cruise ship, etc. or even worse to not get the proper treatment needed if an emergency rises due to not having coverage.

By the way, there’s something I have to get off my chest before we continue on here… it’s a statement I hear again and again from those who decide not to purchase Travel Protection upon booking their Cruise…

“I don’t need insurance as I don’t plan to cancel my trip” or “I don’t need it as I don’t plan to get sick during my trip.”

Please… does anyone plan to?  Do you think the person being airlifted off their cruise vacation 5 days ago had it marked down on their calendar and had their Travel Protection all ready just for that occasion?

I don’t think so…

…that’s why we use words like accidents and emergencies. 🙂

Trust me… when you travel and eat more then normal, drink more then normal, sit in the sun more then normal, overexert yourself more then normal, etc. anything can happen to anyone, anytime.

And of course, in mine & Nancy’s ignorant days when we shunned Travel Protection it was mostly due to being young, we figured that was for older people…

…but since then I’ve seen young healthy people break their leg while vacationing, I’ve seen newlyweds miss their flight connections due to mechanical issues which delayed getting to their honeymoon Cruise by 2 days, I’ve seen a couple in their early 30s lose $7,900.00 when their 6 year old got sick 2 days before their Cruise and they couldn’t go, etc.

And all these situations cost A LOT of money that no-one plans to spend nor budgeted for.

But let’s get back to the guest on my Cruise last week being airlifted off of the ship.

Did you know on average the cost for that operation is $30,000-$50,000?

And then from there, depending on where they ended up (Cuba/Haiti?), they could need an air ambulance to get back to the US or Canada or wherever they’re from.

Imagine you’re from California and you get airlifted to a hospital in Venice, Aruba, Sydney, Bermuda, etc. and later you need an air ambulance (basically a private jet with a Dr & Nurse onboard) to get you home… can you imagine what that costs?

The Travel Protection I sell for example covers you up to $500,000 per person for Emergency Medical Transportation and sometimes people ask why it covers so much… that above is exactly why! 🙂

How about your spouse… imagine being pulled off of a Cruise ship and due to dangerous conditions, critical needed time for medical attention, etc. your spouse couldn’t go with you and you’re in some Caribbean port and they need to get to you… does your budget allow for the last minute expensive plane ticket, the nights in a hotel, the food, transportation when there, etc.?

And on top of that you need to get your bags shipped back to you from the Cruise, you need to get your original plane ticket home changed, etc.

Who’s going to arrange & pay for all that for you?

I don’t know about you but rather then worry about all that while Nancy was being treated I’d rather the Travel Protection company be there to help me out so I could concentrate on the only important thing at the time… her!

You know, after the airlift the other day, Nancy & I went down and chatted with the people at the Medical Center about the financial/travel protection side of how those situations work.

The lady said one of 3 things usually happens:

1. The person is adequately insured which is of course the best as the patient gets the fastest treatment possible as there’s no delays getting the airlift in motion.  FYI, she said thankfully the majority of people are insured… I concur with that as 70-80% of my clients buy Travel Protection.  With that said, 20-30% of the millions of people who travel each year not having proper Travel Protection & being at risk is still a sobering thought.

2. She said sometimes there are people who aren’t insured but thankfully are traveling with family and/or friends and between them all they come up with the funds for the airlift.  Nancy & I were actually on that Cruise with 20 people and we know if something happened to us & we weren’t insured between them all they would have gotten us off but truly, that’s a burden we wouldn’t want to place on anyone we know… what a way to ruin everyone’s vacation by it costing them way more then planned.

3. She said sometimes people aren’t insured and don’t have the means to pay for the airlift and sadly, decline it as they don’t want the debt when they get back home.  Now that sucks.  Imagine risking your life over $ when all you had to do was pay 5.5%-13% (the price is based on age) of the cost of your trip for Travel Protection… no doubt the regrets kick in then!

Not sure about you, but out of the 3 scenarios above- I want to be part of # 1/adequately covered if ever I need help on a ship.

And by the way, this article isn’t just for Cruisers.

A while ago a lady from Calgary got badly hurt in Mexico at an all-inclusive and required an air ambulance back home which cost a lot of money, and if I was informed correctly, she had no Travel Protection but as her story made National news there was a fund started for her and they raised enough to cover the bill.  Imagine though all the stories like this that go untold and no-one’s there to foot the bill but you… ouch!

We all work hard and for most people it takes years to save/retire, etc.  Don’t let that all go to waste by one unexpected accident or emergency while traveling… people literally lose everything in a second when not properly insured.

Ok, hopefully I’ve adequately covered the “philosophical” side of why to get Travel Protection and have convinced you why you NEED to have it when you travel… and as I said in the title… this isn’t about me making a few extra bucks of commission by selling it to you… I truly care about you and don’t want to see your life ruined or lost by not spending a little extra on Travel Protection on top of the cost of your Cruise.

Now let’s move on to the “technical” side of what Travel Protection covers:

Trip Cancellation– This is a biggie and why many people get Travel Protection.  The simple fact is this… if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip after final payment (and with some trips the penalties start sooner) you’re going to lose money… the amount depends on how late you cancel.  In my experience though most everyone ends up canceling at the 100% penalty stage.

People cancel for all kinds of reasons (on average, 15% of our clients have to unexpectedly cancel their trips each year)… sickness, injury, death in the family, they get called for jury duty, their house burns down, a Volcano explodes and flights are grounded, their town gets hit by an earthquake and their airport is closed, etc., etc.  And I hate to put it this way, but the travel suppliers (Cruiselines, Airlines, All-Inclusives, etc.) don’t care what your reason is for canceling or how sad it is… they’re charging you their penalties as per their policy either way.  Even if you or your spouse die they’re not giving you your money back.

So many people buy Travel Protection for this reason and the question you have to ask yourself is (whether your trip costs $2,000, $20,000, $50,000, $100,000, etc.) “if I can’t go and don’t get my money back how much will that hurt me financial-wise and can I afford to re-take this vacation at a later date and pay for it all over again?”

Trip Interruption– This is where you need to suddenly leave your trip due to an emergency… your house is on fire and you need to get home, your child has been in a car accident, etc.  Do you have any idea how expensive a last minute one way plane ticket home from Europe, Asia or the Caribbean can be?  Are you able to cover that for you & your spouse with no issues.

Would you like to get back the money for the days you missed on your trip… I sure would.  Well what’s what Trip Interruption covers.

Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage– Naively, many people think their personal medical coverage covers them when they travel. (especially us Canadians with our “free” healthcare have this misconception)  The truth is, most coverage will hardly pay for anything out of State/Province let alone out of country or when on a Cruise ship.  If you think though you have some special coverage through work, etc. that covers you everywhere my advice as always is look into it.  Don’t presume anything, ask intelligent questions to your provider and if you aren’t convinced they’ll be there when you’re in need, get a proper Travel Protection plan every time you go away.

Emergency Medical Transportation– I talked about this quite a bit earlier and I’m pretty sure the talk of airlifts from Cruise ships & air ambulances helped you understand what this is all about.  And yep, some credit cards/personal medical plans may offer a little coverage here but again give them a call and ask about things like Medical Evacuation off of a ship, an air ambulance, etc. and ONLY leave home with just their coverage if you’re sure they’ve got your back.

Baggage Loss/Damage/Delay, Frequent Flyer Redeposit fee, flight change fee coverage, travel delay, missed connection, 24 hotline assistance, etc.- I grouped these all together to simply shorten this article a little and although Cancellation/Interruption, Medical Emergency & Transportation are the big reasons people buy Travel Protection, the above few things are all important coverages too.

If your flight is delayed and you missed the ship for example, what do you do?  How about if you cancel your trip and want your miles back for your flight… do you really want to pay their fee out of pocket?  Bags… airlines are always losing, breaking & delaying those precious items.  What would you do if you lose your medication, passport, etc.  Do you want to be on the phone during your trip spending money on long distance and taking your time to replace those items or would you rather have one toll free/collect call # that you can call from anywhere in the world and your Travel Protection company will go to work on getting those things replaced for you?

I know which option I’d rather. 🙂

**Note added August 5th, 2013** We just got back from a month long trip in Europe that consisted of 2 awesome Cruises… literally day 1 of the trip I lost my 5 month old iPhone 5 in Rome and by the time I got home yesterday the check was here from the Travel Protection company for me to replace it as it was covered under Lost Baggage. So potential loss of something valuable like your precious Smartphone is another reason to consider Travel Protection.

Travel Insurance ImageWell, I think I’ll leave it at that and hope I got the point across and ideally the next time I or whoever you book your Cruise through says “Would you like to add the Travel Protection” to your trip you’ll remember we aren’t just trying to get a few more bucks out of your pocket… we’re truly looking out for your best interests as we’ve seen and heard our share of stories like the one I experienced in the middle of the night in the middle of the Caribbean just 5 days ago.

I appreciate you & look forward to helping you take care of your next Cruise Vacation, along with your Travel Protection needs, very soon! 🙂

Talk soon,

Your Trusted Cruise Expert!

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