The Anatomy of a Travel Plan: Emergency & Travel Assistance Services

  FemaleTravelerOnPhone_shutterstock_537006328This is the first in our series of posts dissecting travel protection plans so you can better understand these often mysterious products. Each post will focus on one benefit of the plan, explaining what exactly that benefit covers and sharing real-life applications when possible so you can understand the value of that particular benefit.

 At the bottom of the Schedule of Benefits for most of our travel protection plans, there’s a line for Emergency & Travel Assistance, indicated as “Included” on the plans. This particular benefit is not technically insurance coverage and is provided at no additional cost by a third-party vendor (not the insurance carrier). It may be listed last, but it certainly should not be considered the least among the benefits offered to travelers.

 

What is the Emergency & Travel Assistance part of travel protection plans, anyway?

 The Emergency & Travel Assistance benefit offers a 24-hour resource to travelers anywhere in the world, should they need help or have questions. This not only includes assistance in the event of an emergency or unexpected changes to plans on your trip. You can also use this service prior to your trip to help plan your itinerary, get recommendations for restaurants, museums and the like, get help on exchanging currency, and more!

 

Emergency & Travel Assistance: Real Life Application

 In mid-December, there was a detrimental fire at the Atlanta Airport, causing more than a thousand delayed flights and stranding thousands of travelers at the airport for hours with no electricity, limited information and nowhere to stay. In total, more than 30,000 travelers were affected.

 “As the day dragged on, travelers vented on social media about being stranded, the need to make alternate plans and what they complained was a lack of timely information. Some posted photos of passengers standing in the dark in the terminal.”

 What would you do in this situation? Travelers who purchased a travel protection plan would have the benefit of the Emergency & Travel Assistance Services. All they would need to do is make a call to the 800 number provided with their protection plan purchase and help would be available to wade through an otherwise uncomfortable and frustrating situation.

 

Take a look at the full universe of 24/7/365 Travel Assistance Services:

 Travel Arrangements

  • Arrangements for last-minute flight and hotel changes
  • Luggage Locator (reporting/tracking of lost, stolen or delayed baggage)
  • Hotel finder and reservations
  • Airport transportation
  • Rental car reservations and automobile return
  • Coordination of travel for visitors to bedside
  • Return travel for dependent/minor children
  • Assistance locating the nearest embassy or consulate
  • Cash transfers
  • Assistance with bail bonds

 

Pre-Trip Information

  • Destination guides (hotels, restaurants, etc.)
  • Weather updates and advisories
  • Passport requirements
  • Currency exchange
  • Health and safety advisories

 

Documents and Communication

  • Assistance with lost travel documents or passports
  • Live email and phone messaging to family and friends
  • Emergency message relay service
  • Multilingual translation and interpretation services

 

Medical Assistance Services

  • Medical case management, consultation and monitoring
  • Medical Transportation
  • Dispatch of a doctor or specialist
  • Referrals to local medical and dental service providers
  • Worldwide medical information, up-to-the-minute travel medical advisories, and immunization requirements
  • Prescription drug replacement
  • Replacement of eyeglasses, contact lenses and dental appliances

 

Emergency Services

  • Emergency evacuation arrangements
  • Repatriation of mortal remains arrangements
  • Emergency medical and dental assistance
  • Emergency legal assistance
  • Emergency medical payment assistance
  • Emergency family travel arrangements

 Next time you plan your trip, make sure to pack your travel protection plan. Visit http://www.travelinsure.com/ to view all of our various travel products and enroll online. You can also call Travel Insurance Services customer service Monday through Friday, 9 am – 7 pm EST to get your questions answered or enroll by phone: (800) 937-1387.


Travel article

Pro Tips for Your First Trip Abroad

by Sara Parker

You’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and you finally have the time, money and means to take your first trip abroad. But where do you start? There are so many places to go, people to meet, things to eat and cultures to experience. Lucky for you, there are plenty of resources available to help you decide where to go and plan your entire trip. The following are just a few tips to get you started:

Decide Where to Go

All you know is that you want to travel out of the country, but aren’t sure where to go first. Begin your journey with research. Ask your friends about their favorite trips abroad, conduct online searches of some of the most popular destinations or go to your local bookstore to browse the travel section. You also should start narrowing down what type of trip you want to take, such as a remote, outdoors trek, major city tour or a cruise. Think about what you want out of your first time abroad to help decide what kind of excursion you want. As you start narrowing down your options, you also should narrow down your search parameters. For example, only look for the best locations to go backpacking or the best places with art history museums. The lists, books, and websites you’ll find will help you pick the best destination.

Get Your Documents

Once you know where you're going, you need to get going on your paperwork as soon as possible. If you don't have a passport or need to update an old one, do this immediately because it can take several weeks (and sometimes months) to complete. According to the U.S. Department of State, your passport needs to be valid at least six months after your return and have at least two blank pages that can be stamped by customs. Depending on the country you've chosen and the duration of your visit, you also may need to get a visa. Each country has different rules and regulations for visas and you usually have to send your passport and documentation to that country to be granted a visa (which is why you should do it immediately). The Department of State has information broken down by country that gives you directions on how to apply for a visa.

Book Your Flights

There are several points you need to consider before booking your flights online: dates, location, and price. If you are set on a certain time of year for your trip, the first thing you need to do is make sure flights are available during this time. From there, you can narrow down your options by what airport you want to fly out of from your home and into for your destination. Be very careful when you're conducting your research because many websites will tell you they are close to major tourist destinations even if they aren't (it's all relative after all). Do your due diligence by checking how far the airport is from your hotel so you don't end up with a large taxi bill. Now you can start looking at various airlines and prices. Although you may be excited, you may not want to book your flight too far in advance, according to CheapAir.com. According to their study, you should book your flight two to four months in advance of your trip to get the best prices. They have each region of the world broken down by the best time to book flights for more information.

Reserve a Place to Stay

Just like with your flights, you need to do some research on where you'll stay during your trip abroad. Whether you make a reservation at a hotel, hostel, Airbnb or couch-surfing option, you should look into how far it is from the major attractions and destination in the city. Use Google Maps on your smartphone to input addresses and locations to see if you can walk or take public transportation to all the places you want to go or if you'll need a car or taxi to get around. Keep in mind that the cost of cab rides adds up quickly.

Your accommodations also greatly depend on your budget for the trip. If you're pinching pennies, hostels are a great option. They usually are in the heart of major cities and can be booked for affordable prices (especially if you're planning an extended trip). Hostels also provide you with the opportunity to meet new people, talk to the locals and have a more authentic experience. Hotels and Airbnb may be more expensive options, but offer more privacy, services, and luxury. Be sure to look at pictures of the hotels or homes on their website, and read reviews and comments on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Take advantage of the power of a smartphone like the LG G6 to compare all of your options and do as much research as possible. Your phone not only lets you look at websites, but also take screenshots and save information for later use in case something goes wrong.

As you plan your trip, be sure to include the major tourist attractions as well as some local activities on your itinerary. Give yourself plenty of time to explore, try new things and soak in a new culture. With a little research and planning, you'll have an amazing trip and be itching to plan the next one.

Purchase Travel Insurance

Getting travel insurance is prudent with any vacation, but it’s especially important when you’re traveling abroad. Protect your investment in your trip, and also ensure you’re covered in case of sickness or an accident while traveling (after all, many U.S. healthcare plans don’t cover you outside the U.S. Check with your individual plan). USI Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of travel protection plans, so you can find the right plan for you:

Visit http://www.travelinsure.com/ to view all of our plans and learn more.

 

Sara Parker has a passion for travel and travel writing. She lived and studied in Segovia, Spain, for six weeks, has traveled throughout Western Europe, Peru, Costa Rica and the United States. She hopes to hit every continent and share her journeys through her writing.

 


Fireworks

On July 4th 241 years ago, a room full of delegates and appointed officials signed into being a new nation built on ideals now nearly synonymous with the American way of life.  On that day, there was no certainty that the United States would win their battle against England but there was trepidation, determination, and courage. Little did the Founding Fathers know what they would create with their signatures when they signed into being the Declaration of Independence. This weekend marks the countdown to July 4th- an annual holiday commemorating the birth of America and celebrating the American people. 

Where history began and where it continues

In 1682, nearly one hundred years before the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, William Penn arrived seeking to settle a land of religious tolerance for himself and his fellow Quakers. This vision was realized through the formation of his namesake Pennsylvania and, within it, Philadelphia- a name combining the Greek words phileo – meaning ‘love’- and adelphos - meaning ‘brother’- which has led to its famous nickname as “the city of brotherly love.”1

Today, Philadelphia still holds its place as a major American city. It is both a modernized tourist attraction and a glimpse into its history as the birthplace of the United States of America. Being that USI Affinity’s headquarters is located in this remarkable city, we are presenting you with a list of five (out of the many) must see locations in Philadelphia for the 4th of July.

Top five places to visit in Philadelphia:

  1. Christ Church

Nestled among the busy streets of Philadelphia’s Old City, the tower and steeple of stand tall against the backdrop of high-rise office buildings and skyscrapers. An anachronism serving as a bastion for American history, Christ Church was Founded in 1695 as the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania2.

Once the tallest building in America until 1856, the current structure was erected in 1744 with its steeple and tower added in 1754 with funds collected by famous parishioner Benjamin Franklin2. It was in this church that many important figures in American history- such as William Penn, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington- met and worshiped. This common gathering space played a crucial role in the Revolutionary era as it not only served as a common ground for these American figureheads but it also welcomed the Continental Congress, hosted President George Washington and other legislators during national days of prayer, and symbolized the new nation’s break from the Church of England. According to the church’s website, it was in Christ Church that “the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States was created from the ashes of the Church of England.”3

Today, approximately 250,000 visitors each year come to see the historic church and its burial ground, wherein seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and five signers of the Constitution are buried. It is open for tours and also serves as an active Episcopal Church with weekly services. 3

Fun Fact: Christ Church is where the American Episcopal Church was formed.

 

  1. The Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution has recently been opened in the city that the war for independence began- Philadelphia. The new 118,000 square foot museum not only showcases its collection of artifacts from the Revolutionary War and the Revolutionary Period, but immerses visitors into the historic time period4.

The museum has thirty-one audiovisual experiences, twenty life-like figures and ten theaters among its hundreds of artifacts4. In addition to highlighting the stories of the Founding Fathers and Revolutionary War soldiers, the museum provides an “inclusive picture of the American Revolution that is often overlooked by other institutions” 4 by including stories from both enslaved and free Africans, Native Americans, and women.

For more information about the museum, click here.

Fun Fact: According to the Museum of the American Revolution’s website, one of the most “anticipated pieces in the museum is General Washington’s Headquarters Tent, an iconic piece of history where President George Washington slept and made world-changing decisions.“4

  1. The Delaware River Waterfront- Penn’s Landing

In 1682, visionary William Penn first docked on the shores of what would become the foundation of his place in American history- Pennsylvania1. Today, Penn’s arrival in what would become his namesake state is celebrated through Penn’s Landing, a stretch of the Pennsylvania bank along the Delaware River Waterfront. Despite its name, the Penn’s Landing that exists today as a popular tourist attraction is not exactly where Penn landed or made the infamous treaty with the Lenape Indians granting him the land that is now Pennsylvania. That location is actually several miles north of Penn’s Landing. Regardless, Penn’s Landing blends in with the historic district of Philadelphia along the edge of Old City. It hosts numerous concerts and events all throughout the year- including movie screenings, open air concerts, ice skating and fireworks for the 4th of July5.

Fun Fact: Today, a historic marker commemorates the real spot where Penn first set foot on what would become Pennsylvania soil, located in Chester, PA.

  1. The Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky Statue)

Hailed as the third-largest art museum in the nation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is located at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in central Philadelphia and overlooks the Delaware River. Founded in 1876 as a museum for decorative arts located in Memorial Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art was relocated in 1928 to its current Greek-inspired building6. Today, the museum features a wide variety of Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern art6.

In connection with the famed museum is another celebrated Philadelphia must-see attraction. At the bottom of the stairs leading to the East Entrance of the museum is the famous Rocky Statue. This bronze statue was created in the likeness of actor Sylvester Stalone’s character Rocky Balboa for the filming of Rocky III. Stalone donated the statue to the city of Philadelphia where the movie took place and it has become a popular tourist attraction7.

Fun Fact: The stairs leading to the East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are well known as the “The Rocky Steps”, an attraction that, like the Rocky Statue, was made famous by the Rocky movies. The steps have even been declared as the second most famous movie filming location in the entire world7.

  1. Independence National Historic Park

What better way to celebrate the birth of a nation than at the very place the Founding Fathers signed the country into being? Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park is widely known as the “birthplace of American democracy”8. Its grounds see approximately 4.3 million visitors per year and host multiple historic treasures, such as Independence Hall wherein the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation and the U.S. Constitution were signed.

Originally erected as the State House of the Province of Pennsylvania in 1732 until 1756, Independence Hall hosted “historical milestones” including meetings of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783, the ascension of George Washington in 1775 as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army8. With its time as an operational hub for legislative action long since passed, Independence Hall now serves as a historic monument and is open regularly for guided tours.

Outside of Independence Hall, the Independence National Historic Park includes the popular Liberty Bell Center, the First Bank of the United States, Franklin Court, National Constitution Center, and Independence Visitor Center among others. The park in it’s entirely, as does each of the historic sites that it is comprised of, preserves the foundation upon which the United States was built. For more information about the park, click here.

Fun Fact: Now the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital from 1790 until a permanent capital was established in Washington, D.C., in 18001.

Ready to see American history unfold before your eyes on your next travel excursion? Contact ABA Insurance for all of your travel insurance needs by clicking here or calling 1-855-874-0811.

 

 

 

References:

  1. History.com Staff. (2009). Pennsylvania. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/pennsylvania
  2. Christ Church. (2016, August 09). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/history/philadelphia/christ-church/
  3. Church History and Those Who Attended. (n.d.). Retrieved June 23, 2017, from http://www.christchurchphila.org/Historic-Christ-Church/Church/Church-History-and-Those-Who-Attended/86/
  4. Museum of the American Revolution. (2017, May 24). Retrieved June 23, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/museum-of-the-american-revolution/
  5. Penn's Landing. (2016, August 16). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/outdoor-activities/philadelphia/penns-landing/
  6. Philadelphia Museum of Art — visitphilly.com. (2017, March 28). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/philadelphia-museum-of-art/
  7. The Rocky Statue And The Rocky Steps. (2017, June 15). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/the-rocky-statue-and-the-rocky-steps/
  8. Independence National Historical Park. (2016, June 13). Retrieved June 25, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/independence-national-historical-park/

 

 


Pre-Existing Conditions Exclusion Waiver:
How Do I Become Eligible for One?

image from www.illinoisobserver.netTravel insurance provides benefits to help protect your travel investment, whether it’s compensating for lost time, luggage, or the inability to attend the trip due to an unforeseen emergency.  Many travel insurance policies include a pre-existing conditions exclusion. If you have a chronic health condition, this could impact your travel plans and potentially impede you from getting the coverage that you need.

Because many travelers have pre-existing conditions, travel insurance companies now offer a pre-existing conditions exclusion waiver. This waiver, as the name suggests, waives the exclusion on many chronic, but well-managed health conditions. However, there are specific requirements that travelers need to meet in order to be eligible for this benefit. What are some of the most common eligibility requirements? Let’s find out!

 

Continue reading "How to Become Eligible For a Pre-Existing Conditions Exclusion Waiver" »


6 Do’s and Don’ts of Filing a Travel Insurance Claim

image from blog.ingleinternational.comTravel can be a blessing. Whether you’re simply taking a road trip across the state border, or catching a flight across the globe, it’s an opportunity to expand your horizons beyond your day-to-day routine at work and home. In the best of circumstances, you’ll get the chance to live life a little differently than you’re used to, and go on new adventures while enjoying the thrill of being on vacation. 

Travel can also bring the unexpected, so it’s important to keep safety in mind at all times. This could mean having the right travel insurance benefits to make sure you get attention during emergency situations. If you do have travel insurance, that’s wonderful – you’ve got one step taken care of. Later on, if you need to file a travel insurance claim, you may have questions.  One in particular is:

How do I get the maximum benefits when I file a travel insurance claim?

So, we’ve developed a guide for you. Here are 6 Do’s and Don’ts of Filing a Travel Insurance Claim.

 

Continue reading "Do's and Don'ts of Filing a Travel Insurance Claim" »