Q. I'm taking a cruise next month and want to buy travel insurance but am not really sure of the difference between the insurance and travel waivers. Can you help? - Barry Boat
A. Dear Mr. Boat: Assisted by www.smart ertravel.com, I can offer some advice about these differences. Obviously, we're all familiar with trip cancellation insurance by a third party company. This allows you to cancel your trip if you become ill, die, or whatever legitimate issue you suffer. On the other hand, the waivers come directly from the cruise line and can be less expensive but offer fewer protections. They:
• May not include as many reasons or people in your party;
• Don't cover "typical" trip-interruption as well as cancellation coverage. This allows coverage for any extra expenses of returning home early if the trip has already begun;
• Don't include medical benefits, emergency evacuation, baggage insurance and the like
• Usually pay off in vouchers for future trips rather than in cash
• Don't cover the financial failure of the cruise line or the tour operator that sells the waiver.
Read the fine print on any policy before purchase; they definitely can differ from one company to another. Decide which risks are more worrisome to you and buy a policy that best addresses those risks. For example, if you're prone to allergies, you want to be careful to check those voyages to the Amazon region.
We're told the best thing to do is to buy insurance with the broadest possible coverage within the limits of reasonable price. (Beware Seniors 75 and over -- regular travel insurance can be prohibitively expensive.)
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer firstname.lastname@example.org.