We recommend that all travelers purchase travel insurance at time of booking to protect you and your trip investment. There are a variety of policies available, depending on your needs and trip costs.
Your Travel Advisor can advise on the basics of most policies as well as send you a policy quote. Keep in mind there are numerous inclusions and omissions to travel insurance policies, it is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure their needs are met. If you have specific questions regarding your policy, please contact the insurance provider: your Travel Advisor can provide you with their contact details.
Pre-existing condition clauses and supplier financial default clauses vary by policy and typically require you to purchase your insurance soon after deposit. Please notify your Travel Advisor as soon as possible if you have any pre-existing conditions (please note, pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition.) Blackhawk Vacations is not liable in cases of supplier, financial default but we will rely on our professional knowledge to recommend companies who we believe to be financially stable. We cannot vouch for suppliers outside of our preferred partner network when specifically requested by the traveler.
Some insurance policies are eligible for a “Cancel For Any Reason” rider (described below), which must be purchased within a short time of the base policy. Inquire with your Travel Advisor if you are interested in this type of policy. Travel insurance policies are typically limited in emergency evacuation coverage. Therefore, medical evacuation policies are recommended, particularly when traveling to extreme locations.
Please note that many credit cards restricted or cancelled their travel coverage as a result of COVID-19. Travel Advisors are not equipped to answer technical questions about travel insurance policies, nor to make comparisons with what credit cards may offer.
Medical-Only Travel Insurance
Medical-Only travel insurance covers travelers while overseas, including treatment, hospitalization and, in most cases, medical evacuation. There are some specific clauses for pre-existing conditions that you should read at time of purchase.
We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider to see what coverage is available in your destinations. Note: Medicare does not cover foreign travel (link to government site: link)
Our Medical-Only covers a few things beyond medical, such as Trip Delay and Baggage Delay.
The policy premium is based on the travelers age, starting at about $45 per person. We consider that to be a great value. See also Annual Policies below.
Standard Travel Insurance ("Named Peril")
This is generally the coverage most people are looking for, which includes trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage delay, etc. Standard Travel insurance includes Medical Travel Insurance (described above).
Travel insurance covers many situations that may happen individually to you before or while on your trip. This generally includes things like a medical issue you (or a family member, even some non-traveling family members!), financial default (airline, cruise line, ...), destination made uninhabitable by certain weather conditions, jury duty, work recalls, etc.
Standard Travel Insurance is not designed to handle every possible situation. Examples of things not covered: volcanic eruption stops all flights between Europe and North America for one week (2010), the fear of catching Covid-19 (2020), performer that you flew thousands of miles to see cancels show, being held at a border checkpoint, border closures, or long lines that prevent you from checking in to your flight. The above are examples; your coverage may vary based on policy and/or state of residence. Please consult your policy for specific coverage information.
Reading the policy is important -- if it is not listed in your policy, it is not covered.
You can insure as much or as little of your trip as you wish, but we recommend covering all prepaid costs and all non-refundable costs.
Cancel For Any Reason (Rider)
A Cancel For Any Reason ("CFAR") rider allows you to cancel your trip for literally any reason. This offers you maximum flexibility. There are still some restrictions, of course, so ask questions before purchase. If you need this, please ask for this upfront. It must be purchased within a few days of initial deposit.
Almost every CFAR rider has the following requirements: it must be purchased within a short time of the first item on the trip, you must insure all prepaid costs and all non-refundable costs.
Since this is a 'rider', it means that you still get 100% coverage if it is a "Named Perils" of the standard policy, and 50-80% coverage for any reason that is not listed (specific % depends on policy).
Occasionally we find CFAR at 100% -- but there's frequently a catch (such as more expensive air).
Prior to Covid-19, fewer than 5% of all policies we arranged for clients had a Cancel for Any Reason Rider.
Annual Insurance Policies
If you travel multiple times per year, you may be interested in an Annual Insurance Policy. These policies typically cover all of your trips for a year (approximately 365 days from your chosen start date).
These are focused on people that take a large number of small trips.
Make sure to ask how much the cancellation/interruption part of the policy covers and whether the medical insurance is primary or secondary.
Medical Evacuation / Hospital Transfer Insurance
Medical evacuation in any policy is subject to limitations, both cost and logistical. With most insurance the company is required to bring you to the "nearest suitable facility." This is really important to getting injuries treated right away, but might not be what you want should the issue be more serious.
There are some situations where the closest hospital to you might not be the one that you want doing a longer rehab, or you might want to make sure that the specialists you know are the ones doing the treatment.
We have short term (single trip) and annual policies available for this.
Other Non-Insurance Travel Assistance Benefits
Many policies also include additional benefits. If something weird happens while traveling -- such as a lost passport, prescription drug replacement, legal referrals -- they have a 24 hour call center to assist.
Is this a good value or a waste of money? Do they actually pay out?
Like other insurance (car insurance, homeowners/renters' insurance): if you need to file a claim and you get paid, you will feel this is a great value. If you have a happy trip with no problems, then you feel like you've wasted money.
Our experience (for us as travelers, as well as for our clients), is that covered reasons are paid fairly quickly once the paperwork is completed. On average we assist clients with a handful of "big" claims every year.
Why do we sometimes cover only part of the trip?
The cancellation and/or interruption part of the insurance will only pay for actual out-of-pocket losses. Thus if you can cancel the supplier for a full refund (like a hotel with a 6 pm day before hold), there's probably no need to specifically insure it. After all, if you cancel the trip before you depart, we can cancel the hotel.
If we book a nonrefundable hotel room, then you need to insure it. (Frequently the insurance eats up much of the savings from the nonrefundable part, so why not take the more flexibility of a fully cancellable room?).
If the trip is far in the future, we might purchase a portion of the insurance up front, and increase it as the date gets closer. The overall cost is the same.
Does this insurance cover Covid-19?
The most frequent question we are being asked in 2020 (and 2021). In general ...
If you are hospitalized for Covid-19, then it is a medical event, just like being hospitalized for anything else.
If you are delayed, but not hospitalized, there may be coverage to go toward your extra expenses.
The fear of catching Covid-19 or government border closures, are not medical situations and not on the list of "Named Perils". Thus, this would likely only be covered if you had a Cancel for Any Reason rider.
You may need to show proof of vaccination or proof of a recent, previously administered negative test to demonstrate that this developed while on trip.
Consult your travel insurance policy for more information.
My airline / cruise line is allowing us to cancel right up to the point of travel, is that good enough?
We are delighted to see suppliers offer more flexibility. It is good for the traveling public -- and it is good for our clients.
This is being offered with some fine print. Here are some questions to ask:
Is there a certain number of days in advance of the trip you need cancel?
Will you be provided with a cash refund or a voucher?
What are the limitations and restrictions of any vouchers that would be provided?
What happens if you get to the cruise dock to board the ship and you (or a traveling companion) test positive for Covid?
Here's a partial list of what may be missing:
Medical coverage while on the trip
Trip Interruption -- if something happens to you once the trip has started
Coverage for the other components of your trip: prepaid excursions, tours, rental cars, hotels, etc.