Travel insurance competition

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 57 of the March 2012 issue.

The competitive world of travel insurance just got more competitive. Two more travel insurance providers switched their medical benefits to primary-payer coverage.

On Dec. 15, both TravelSafe Insurance (40 Commerce Dr., Wyomissing, PA 19610-6050; 800/523-8020) and M.H. Ross Travel Insurance Services (9225 Ward Parkway, Ste. 200, Kansas City, MO 64114) made the switch to primary-payer medical benefits ($100,000 per person) on their “Betty James Travel Insurance Strategy” plans.

Buying a primary-payer travel insurance policy is a great way to avoid deductibles and co-pays for which you may be responsible under your domestic health provider should you incur medical expenses while traveling. It also eliminates the onerous paperwork involved in preparing a claim for the secondary-payer coverage that is common in many travel insurance policies.

The Betty James Travel Insurance Strategy

The Betty James Travel Insurance Strategy, which I’ve frequently recommended, involves getting overseas medical-expense coverage and emergency medical evacuation coverage at a very reasonable cost compared to a full-feature travel insurance policy.

Basically, it requires you to forgo the trip-cancellation and trip-interruption benefits while including all of the other standard travel insurance features: coverage for baggage loss, trip delay, etc.

When you’re filling out the travel insurance purchase form, it will ask for the cost of the trip. Fill in the amount “$0.00.” I recommend this “zero trip cost” coverage if you feel comfortable not having the significantly more expensive coverage for trip cancellation/interruption.

Price schedules

As of Jan. 15, 2012, the following are the costs (per person, by age, at the time of purchase) of the $0.00-trip-cost policies for trips of 30 days or fewer:

• TravelSafe Vacation Classic plan — ages 0-30, $38; 31-50, $44; 51-59, $53; 60-69, $79; 70-79, $125, and 80+, $148.

• M.H. Ross Advantage Bridge plan — 0-35, $31; 36-55, $42; 56-65, $53; 66-75, $62; 76-80, $82, and 81+, $111.

You can purchase these policies directly from these companies or get additional information and advice when purchasing by contacting travel insurance broker Dan Drennen at the Travel Insurance Center (Omaha, NE; 866/979-6753, ext. 3621, or 402/343-3621 or e-mail

For detailed descriptions of the travel insurance strategies mentioned above, see my articles, "When is it a good idea to buy a full-feature travel insurance package?" (June ’10, pg. 53); "Alternatives to full-feature travel insurance policies" (July ’10, pg. 55), and "The Betty James Travel Insurance Strategy" (Sept. ’10, pg. 54).

Happy trails!