Journalists are generally considered a skeptical lot. They see dozens of press releases in their email inbox every day, selling them something, and putting the most positive spin possible on a company’s products and services.
But a recent travel experience for Business Insider reporter Graham Rapier has made him a believer. Travel insurance isn’t “a scam,” like he once thought. It can be a very practical way of earning peace of mind, and saving money when a trip goes wrong.
Rapier recently wrote about his experience for Business Insider.
“I can't even begin to count the number of times I've declined travel insurance when booking plane tickets,” he opened his Nov. 9 article.
But when it came to an upcoming cross-country Amtrak trip, and reading about delays, he was concerned. Rapier noted how he was horrified by a fairly well shared story about how 183 passengers were stuck on a train for 36 hours earlier this year. His research demonstrated that “these tales are far from outliers.”
His first leg of his journey, the Lake Shore Limited, was on time about 42% of the time in 2018. So, when the railroad's booking website offered him travel insurance, Rapier “bit the bullet and bought for the first time what I had long considered to be a scam and didn't think of it again.”
He plunked down $17 to protect his $900 investment.
“Turns out I was right,” Rapier wrote, as delays caused him to miss his connection in Chicago, forcing him to spend an unplanned night in the city.
Reading Rapier’s tale, you can feel the common anxiety travelers have when delays start to pile up, and practical concerns, like “Where will I have to spend the night, and how much will it cost me?” begin to fill you head.
“As we sat behind a freight train outside of South Bend, Indiana, already a full three hours after the train should have arrived in Chicago, I started to wonder about my missed connection. My next train was scheduled to depart Chicago at 2:15, but as we creeped slowly into Illinois, I knew that wasn't going to happen,” Rapier wrote.
Travel insurance companies have been investing in various Internet-based tools to prepare travelers for their trips, and stay in touch with them along their journey – especially in the event something goes wrong.
Rapier noted how prior to receiving his train ticket after booking with Amtrak, Allianz had already sent him an email with a link to his full policy and other details. (He admits he didn’t read the details.)
Now, sitting in South Bend, Indiana, concerned about his train connection, Rapier opened the email and realized that the terms of his policy entitled him to a $150 daily payment in the event of a travel delay.
At Amtrak’s customer service counter in Chicago’s Union Station, a representative met displaced passengers like Rapier, “with new tickets, and hotel and food vouchers for everyone who had missed their connections.” However, he said, “Amtrak did offer hotel vouchers for those of us who needed to wait overnight.”
Sitting in Union Station, Rapier found a hotel that fit the $150 cap and booked it for the evening.
While he felt settled that at least he had a place to lay down for the evening, he wondered whether Allianz would be good to its word, and refund him the cost. “The only downside to the plan, of course, was having to front the money and not knowing if the travel insurance would actually work,” Rapier wrote in his article.
When he was back in New York four days later, he filed his claim, which Rapier described as “easy. All I needed was my email address or policy number, and the date I departed for my trip. The form was simple and quick, all I had to do was upload my hotel receipt. It didn't even ask for proof of my delay.”
Six days later, a check showed up in Rapier’s mailbox.
“Not only was it sooner than I expected, but easier too! I had worried that I would need some way to prove my train was delayed significantly enough to require a hotel stay, but that was not the case,” Rapier said. “All things considered, the travel insurance was easily worth $17.”