Caveat Emptor

So, in the past, I've done most of my trip planning myself or relied on close friends and family (like my dad) to handle the same. Recently, though, I've been planning a few trips with different organizational, logistical, legal and other issues that have pushed me towards some externally planned packages (like the guide requirement for Killimanjaro--you can't legally climb without a licensed guide). While most of the people I've dealt with have been very helpful on this front, one recent experience has given me even yet another reason to do what I can myself when possible.

One of the trips I'm planning requires me to have travel insurance to cover any potential issues. The trip planning company offers a suggestion for a plan (making sure to point out that many plans exclude these types of activities), but I decide to look around a bit just to see if I can get a better deal--I know the insurance companies are making a profit on this stuff, which tells me that it can be advantageous to just cover the essentials rather than necessarily getting complete coverage. In the process of looking, I ask some friends if they have any recommendations--one of them even goes so far as to talk to their travel agent for me to get some idea of cost and such.

The price quote my friend got is noticeably cheaper than what I had been looking at, and they even made sure to check that the crazy kind of stuff I do should be covered--any activity, just not professionally is the response. Great! Seems like a lead to get what I need without spending extra cash.

Sadly though, now a couple months down the road, this has turned into a classic example of "caveat emptor". First off, the price quoted to me was significantly more than what was told to my friend. Still cheaper than the other options, but something that stood out noticeably from the start. I still decide to look deeper and see what comes out of it, so I ask for the policy details. Response? "You don't have to read all the details prior to purchasing a policy." Alarm bells blaring. Eventually I manage to get the plan. What do I see? Anything non-professional covered...except rock climbing, mountaineering and similar. Kind of the whole point...

Clearly not the best choice for me, although I possibly could meet the trip requirements with it. I figure there probably was just some sort of miscommunication somewhere and so politely inform the travel agent that the plan really doesn't seem like the best choice for me. Their response? Paraphrased, they basically admitted to knowing this stuff wasn't covered, mention that their main competitor also wouldn't cover it and that they don't know of a plan that would cover it. And then they offer me a discount if I decide to take it as a "better than nothing" option. Talk about leaving a bad taste in the mouth, especially when you consider that they put this all in writing.

So what have I learned? Doing things myself might be a pain in the ass, but one well warranted. Salespeople are there to make sales and some of them are willing to push things quite far, especially if they don't expect you to come back anyway. No wonder so many ancient quotes still apply today--human nature hasn't changed.

No images attached to this post.