Betty James Travel Insurance Strategy update

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 46 of the February 2020 issue.

For some years now, I’ve been recommending post-departure travel insurance policies, also known as zero-trip-cost policies or (as I coined it) “Betty James policies.” These policies eliminate the expensive trip-cancellation/interruption coverage but provide all of the other benefits of a full-feature policy, including overseas medical and emergency-medical-evacuation coverage as well as coverage for baggage loss, trip delay, etc.

Recently, some travel insurance companies eliminated the zero-trip-cost option.

The strategy for dealing with this change (I’ll give examples from two insurance companies) is to simply fill in the trip cost with an amount from $1 to $250 for a Travelex policy or from $1 to $500 for an IMG iTravelInsured Travel SE plan. This results in the same economical policy as a zero-trip-cost policy.

To give an example, travel insurance broker Dan Drennen reported using this strategy when selling an 86-year-old woman a policy in December 2019 for her trip to New Zealand. On her policy with the company IMG iTravelInsured, she filled in the trip cost amount as “$500” and the policy cost her $86.

The woman is provided with $150,000 in primary-payer medical coverage and $500,000 in emergency-medical-evacuation coverage.

She also is provided a waiver of the preexisting-medical-condition clause if…

a) her deposit or full payment for this policy is received within 20 days of her submitting the enrollment form and

b) she is not disabled from travel (i.e., she does not have or is not in a condition that prevents her from traveling) at the time her premium is paid.

Note: Some companies will not waive the preexisting-condition clause unless the traveler insures the full prepaid nonrefundable cost of their trip.

Travel insurance is a changing scene. I strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance from a travel insurance broker, such as Dan Drennen (Travel Insurance Center, Omaha, NE; 866/979-6753, ext. 3621, or 402/343-3621,

And I thank ITN reader Margaret Quinn of Cincinnati, Ohio, for the tip that some travel insurers have eliminated the zero-trip-cost option.

Happy trails!

Readers with questions are welcome to contact Wayne Wirtanen, 4341 Shangri-la Lane, Placerville, CA 95667; call 530/644-1084 or email For an index of Wayne’s articles, visit