Jul 012010
 

By Mic Anderson

Welcome to the third installment of my insurance primer. In this final installment, we’re going to explore insurance on cruises, focusing on Disney Cruise Line and their policies. Again, please remember I’m not an insurance agent in any shape or form, nor have I played one on TV. This is coming from my personal experience and my experience as an airline employee and travel agent, and should all be taken as suggestion only.

If you missed the first and second installments on the safety net offered by travel insurance, check them out. The first installment of this series covered travel insurance basics. The second installment focused on Walt Disney World and Disneyland trips.

Now, on to cruise insurance. Like land packages, the cancellation policy is important and you need to familiarize yourself with it, but there are other reasons to have insurance when on a cruise. You are going to be traveling in foreign countries and it would be so much easier to call your travel insurance company and find out where to go to get your poison ivy treated, than it would trying to figure out how to say it in Spanish. You might mistakenly say something like "burp on my bolt" (eructo en mi perno), when you meant to say "rash on my leg" (erupción en mi pierna). And you do not want to get caught with the bill if you needed to be airlifted due to a medical condition. Also, while medical concerns are my biggest issue when we cruise, a cruise is an expensive mostly prepaid vacation. You do not want to lose that money if you have to cancel.

Disney Cruise Line Cancellation Policy:
Cruises Less Than 10 Days (Except Alaska Cruises)

Days prior to Vacation Commencement Date

Fee Amount

·45 days or more

Deposit per Guest for Suites or Concierge staterooms is always non-refundable.

· 74-45 days

Deposit per Guest for Non-Suites or Concierge staterooms

· 44-15 days

50% of vacation price per Guest

· 7 days or less

No refund

Cruises of 10 Days or More & Alaska Cruises

Days prior to Vacation Commencement Date

Fee Amount

·45 days or more

Deposit per Guest for Suites or Concierge staterooms is always non-refundable

· 89-45 days

Deposit per Guest for Non-Suites or Concierge staterooms

· 44-8 days

50% of vacation price per Guest

· 14 days or less

No refund

A very important thing to note: Disney Cruise Line considers changes to the vacation commencement date, land/sea components, or changes of Guest names to be cancellations.

One of the things I like about the travel insurance offered by Disney and most of the other major cruise lines is that you can add the insurance on at any time prior to final payment. (These policies are always in a state of change, so make sure and check your specifics for your cruise line.) Also many of the cruise lines (although not Disney at this time) offer different levels of insurance, with a basic, and one or two levels of upgraded service offering more benefits. One thing to keep in mind, however, are pre-existing conditions. Most basic policies will not cover circumstances that result from a pre-existing condition; the upgraded policy often will.

One thing I do not like about the cruise line policies is that they only cover what you buy from the cruiseline. If you purchase your cruise, your airfare, and your pre-cruise hotel night through Disney Cruise Line, you can get it all covered with their insurance. However, if you purchase it separately (and I really am not a fan of purchasing airfare through the cruise line for a variety of reasons, first off the cost), then only cruise will be covered.

Shop at www.insuremytrip.com to compare different policies and rates. If you are going to go this route, you do not want to wait to purchase the insurance, as many policies will add a surcharge if you do not buy it within a certain time frame (i.e. five days) from when you booked your cruise. At least check into it right away when booking your cruise and get the information. They also have an 800 number for those of us who like to ask a lot of questions.

So that’s it! With the basic information from this three-installment series on travel insurance, you have the general knowledge you need to make educated decisions about when and if you’ll need it. It’s a safety net, a safety net you should at least consider as part of your vacation-planning process.

May 192010
 

By Mic Anderson

Here it is — reading you can’t put down! Okay, insurance may not be that exciting, but it can be somewhat mystifying. That mystery tends to make us want to put off dealing with it. I hope these insurance articles will demystify travel insurance for you. Remember, I am not an insurance agent in any shape or form, nor have I played one on TV.This is coming from my personal experience and my experience as an airline employee and travel agent, and should all be taken as suggestion only.

My first installment of this series covered travel insurance basics. Now, we will delve into what specifically is offered for Walt Disney World and Disneyland package by Walt Disney Travel Company.The Walt Disney Travel Company is who you are ultimately booking through if you call yourself, book online or book through an Earmarked Agency like The Magic for Less Travel.

Before making the decision to purchase travel insurance, you should first familiarize yourself with the cancellation policy for your booking. Despite the fact that Disneyland and Disney World are booked by Walt Disney Travel Company (WDTC), their policies are different.

    Disney World Cancellation and Change Policy for PACKAGES: Insurance and most air is non-refundable. The package portion (in this case "package" refers to your Disney World Resort accommodations, park tickets, and dining plan) of your reservation has no penalty to cancel over 45 days prior to your arrival. From day 44 until six days prior to your arrival, the fee is $100; from day 5 up until check-in, the penalty is $200. There is a charge of $50 to change your reservation under 45 days prior to arrival. No refunds will be given to no-shows. No refunds will be made for unused or partially used admission tickets options or features including meals. Guest will not be eligible for refunds due to early departures.

    Disney World Cancellation and Change Policy for room-only reservations: Cancellation must be received by Disney at least six days, although we recommend seven, prior to check-in to receive a refund of your deposit. Please note insurance is NOT available through WDTC on room-only reservations.

    Disneyland Cancellation and Change Policy for PACKAGES: Once deposit has been paid, a fee is assessed each time a change is made or a reservation is cancelled. The change/cancellation fees are per reservation and are as follows:

    Days prior to arrival

    Change fee

    Cancellation fee

    31 Days of More

    $0

    $100

    30 Days or Less

    $50

    $200

    If you have insurance, these fees won’t apply. Insurance is not refundable after paid. Most airline tickets are non-refundable.

    Disneyland Cancellation and Change Policy for room-only reservations: Reservation must be canceled at least three full days (72 hours) before the trip or the deposit is forfeited. Please Note insurance is NOT available through WDTC on room-only reservations.

So, with the policies in mind, we need to explore when to get the insurance.

With Disney World Packages, my rule of thumb is to not add it on until one of the two following things happen:

  1. You book your airfare (which 99% of the time is non refundable). Whether your airfare is booked as part of your Disney package or not, the airfare is covered by travel insurance through WDTC. (Cool benefit, huh?)
  2. Shortly before final payment date if air in not an option being used (i.e. you are driving).

The insurance costs $66.95 per adult (children under 18 are covered free). So, when would it pay for you to use the cancellation piece of it? From 44 to six days, you will only be assessed a $100 fee if you had to cancel, however from 6 days – check-in, you will be assessed a $200 fee if you have to cancel. Insurance cost is right in between those two, assuming there are two adults traveling, so keep that all in mind when considering your circumstances. Of course, cancellation is not the only reason to purchase insurance as we discussed in installment one.

How about with Disneyland packages?

  1. Again when airfare is involved, consider it! Your airfare does not have to be booked through Disney to qualify for cancellation reimbursement.
  2. Disneyland’s cancellation policy’s are more strict than Disney World’s policy as they go into affect immediately, so I think in more cases, it would pay to consider the insurance on the Disneyland packages. Cost is $59.95 per adult and again children under 18 are then covered free.

Some of the things I really like about the policies offered through WDTC are:

  • Your airfare is covered whether you buy the airfare as part of the Disney package or on your own.
  • When you purchase the policy for the adults in the party, children are covered free
  • 24-hour assistance is available, so if something comes up at night, you don’t have to wait for an office to open in order to get help.
  • Employee termination or layoff through no fault of your own after the effective date of coverage if you are an active employee with same employer for at least 1 year is a covered.
  • Called into active military duty, having military leave revoked, or being reassigned within 10 days of departure date is another covered reason
  • Hurricane or inclement weather causing complete cessation of travel services at the point of departure and/or destination is covered.

Please pay attention to the pre-existing conditions clause and if you have ANY questions about your specific situation, call the 800 number.

For a look at a the specific policies offered visit or call:
Walt Disney World http://adisneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw/media/reservations/insurancecertificate.pdf
800-826-3899

Disneyland

Insure America 888-637-1738

As always, choosing to purchase insurance is a personal choice. But by weighing the risk of losing money against the cost of the premiums, it will help you decide if insurance is right for you. It’s best to explore your options ahead of time, rather than find out that you could have purchased travel insurance and didn’t. And of course, consult the policy or ask questions of the insurance carrier in order to understand what is covered and what is not.

Mar 222010
 

By Mic Anderson

Insurance. It’s a word that makes the best of us want to “put it aside to deal with later” in so many cases. We already deal with auto insurance, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, health insurance, life insurance, flood insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, Medicare supplements, and probably many others. So really, do we have to deal with insurance for our vacations? Vacations are supposed to be a time to relax. In a short answer: yes, you should consider it. But different situations call for different responses.

Let me start out by stating, I am NOT a licensed insurance agent or broker. This is coming from my personal experience and my experience as an airline employee and travel agent, and should all be taken as suggestion only. At no point during the reading of this article are you expected to sign on the dotted line; take it as you do all advice, using what you can and throwing away the rest. (Now please sign here to state that you understand: __________________________. Just kidding!)

Why would anyone want travel or trip insurance? We already pay enough to travel, why add on more expenses? One major reason is to reimburse any expenses you have if you have to cancel your trip. Another reason to consider is health insurance coverage; will your current plan cover any medical needs you might have while traveling? Many plans also cover things like loss or delay of baggage, expenses incurred during a trip delay, worldwide assistance, or emergency evacuation. Like all insurance policies, it’s insuring against the unwanted or unplanned for, the things we hope will never happen.

How do you know which plan is right for you? I will admit to being lazy sometimes and just taking what is offered by Walt Disney Travel Company or Disney Cruise Line. I know, you can probably get a better deal and a more inclusive package by shopping around for it, but I am busy, as I am sure you are, and at least by having these policies I know the “big two” are covered. In my mind, that’s getting reimbursed if I have to cancel, and knowing health/medical needs will be covered no matter where I am in the world. (Or Disney World, if the case may be).

In future installments, I will address directly what is offered by Walt Disney Travel Company (that includes anything you buy through a travel agent that books directly with WDTC, like The Magic for Less), and what is included with Disney Cruise Lines and other cruise lines (because let’s face it, once you cruise with Disney, you are tempted to branch out and try other cruise lines, but that’s a whole ‘nother article!). For now I want to point out what things you should pay extra attention to and where you can go to shop around.

Number 1: Find out what the cancellation policy is for your travel supplier(s). This could include your hotel, your entertainment, your airline, or other travel costs. If you do not understand this, it’s hard to grasp whether or not you need cancellation protection. Also, some airlines offer low-cost change or cancellation protection you can buy at the time of booking the air.

Number 2 (and 3 and 4) as I cannot repeat this enough: make sure you understand what the covered reasons are for cancellation. They really can vary, and some policies are very lenient, to the point of offering “any reason cancellation” to others where you have to be in a hospital yourself for the insurance to cover your cancellation.

Number 5: Find out from your health insurance provider if you are covered where you are going, and what is covered. A nice perk I have heard about from the insurance provided from Walt Disney Travel Company is that doctors have made “house calls” to hotel rooms when guests took ill on vacation, and it was all covered by their travel insurance. (Sidenote: if at a Disney resort and you or a family member takes ill, check with the front desk to see what your options are. Disney typically goes above and beyond when this happens.)

On my honeymoon a few (okay, several…well, maybe many) years ago, my new husband came down with strep throat. We were in Europe, had no planned itinerary, and happened to be in Switzerland when he decided he must see a doctor. Being young and cocky, and an airline employee at the time, who had traveled many places for cheap, and I hadn’t even considered travel insurance.

Boy, it would it have been nice to have had an 800 number to call for assistance, rather than trying to use my somewhat limited French (thankfully we were in a French-speaking area of Switzerland) to determine the way to a pharmacy, where we found a treatment for strep throat. However, a doctor and some antibiotics would have been much more helpful.

Number 6: Does this insurance cover all your related travel expenses or just a portion of them? Does it cover your airfare, ground transportation, hotel costs, and entertainment costs like theme park tickets and anything you are paying for ahead of time? Or does it simply cover your cruise?

Number 7: do you have to purchase the insurance? Sometimes you can purchase it until the final payment date, while others have to be purchased at the time of booking. Make sure you understand this at the time of booking so you can plan.

So, where do you look for travel insurance? First see what your travel agent through the supplier (or the supplier if you booked yourself) is offering. Get a copy of the policy so you can compare; a good travel agent should have a copy available to easily e-mail to you. (Yes, e-mail so you don’t have to print the entire thing out and kill trees.)

Then, go to www.insuremytrip.com and compare some other policies. Do you have a particular situation you want to know is covered? Most of these places will have an 800 number you can call and find out. Are you covered if Uncle Les loses his job and can’t come stay with Polly the parrot while you are gone? Are you covered if an immediate family member passes away? What if you are called away on military duty or lose your job? Call the 800 number and make sure your situation will be covered if it is not addressed in writing in the policy.

Next time we will look at what is and what is not covered by Walt Disney Travel Company, and the positives and negatives of having this insurance. Safe travels!

Aug 252008
 

By Mic Anderson

Thinking of booking a Disney trip but unsure where to start? Your neighbor tells you to book through Travelocity as you can get a great deal through them; your boss recommends you book through a Disney Earmarked Travel Agency that specializes in Disney travel; but the planner in you worries about giving up control and wants to do it on your own. Or there is that travel agent that booked your trip to Hawaii; she did a pretty good job. Which option do you choose? How do you know which option will work best for you and what are the pros and cons of going each way? Let’s see if we can work our way through the Disney booking jungle.

First, we’ll look at the option of booking the trip yourself. One of the big reasons people contact Disney directly is because they like to keep control over every detail of their vacation. For Disney trips, this option can work for you if you are fairly knowledgeable about Disney destinations, and if you’re willing to keep an eye on resort discount codes as they are released. If booking on your own, you can subscribe to online e-mail groups or check websites such as The Mouse for Less where you will be updated with current discounts. These Disney fan sites are not just for those who plan on booking their vacation – they are a good way to keep up with changes, upcoming events, and ask questions.

Continue reading »

May 192008
 

Compiled By Carol Garcia

Funnel

As gas prices soar and prices of transportation go up, many of us are taking a closer look at how to best spend our vacation dollars. Do we drive or fly? Do we stay local or go farther away? Do we go budget, or spend a little more to guarantee a certain level of quality?

For those of you contemplating a cruise vacation, there are many more choices. Not only do you have many different cruise lines to choose from, but among them can be ships of varying sizes and vastly different itineraries catering to a variety of people.

Although not the biggest cruise line (there are just two ships in service now with two more coming in the future), and not the cheapest, Disney Cruise Line (DCL) is still a favorite among cruisers. So, as you look at how to spend your cruise vacation, we’ve asked the travel agents at The Magic For Less travel agency to answer some questions about just why Disney Cruise Line is worthy of your business.

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Apr 092007
 

By Erica Colmenares

I don’t know about you, but I spend a good bit of my daydreaming time imagining I’ve won the lottery. Now, I don’t play the lottery, so it’s pretty far-fetched, but here’s what I’d do if, magically, my number was picked for the MegaBall jackpot. First, there’d be back-to-back Eastern and Western cruises on Disney Cruise Line’s Magic. Ahhhhhh. Then, I’m pretty sure I’d book a few of those Adventure by Disney vacations. Costa Rica and Ireland sound nice, don’t they? A trip to Disneyland Paris would most certainly be in the plans. I might even make a side-trip to see the Eiffel Tower!

All of this Disney-related travel, however, would require additional planning and information, above and beyond our more typical vacations to Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort. Whenever a U.S. citizen leaves the confines of our 50 states, some thinking ahead is in order.

I’ll pause a second now to offer apologies to our non-U.S. readers. The scope of this article doesn’t lend itself to covering laws and advice for international travelers. Try not to read that as meaning I was too darn lazy to do all that research, please. ;-)

OK, onward. We’re looking at the biggies in preparing for that Disney Cruise Line vacation in the Med, that Adventure by Disney foray to the Czech Republic, that long-awaited visit to Disneyland Paris. What should you be considering?

PASSPORTS

Passports are either required or highly recommended for any of these Disney outings. Technically, at this time it is not yet mandatory for U.S. citizens to have a passport for a sea/land-entry into the U.S., if they are traveling in the Americas, the Caribbean, Bermuda or Canada. However, if an emergency situation arises, and an air re-entry is necessary, a passport will be required. Why chance it? Get a passport! Note: Passports will be required for land/sea entry, beginning January 1, 2008. Which isn’t as far away as it sounds.

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