Travel Insurance - Why Everyone Needs Travel Accident Insurance

More than 1 million pieces of luggage were lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered by U.S. airlines from May to July, 2007. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, June and July 2007 were ranked among the worst months for mishandled baggage in 20 years. And unfortunately, this number has been increasing over the past 5 years. In 2002, 3.84 reports of mishandled bags were filed per 1,000 passengers. In July 2007, this figure was 7.93.

Many jobs were slashed after the industry's historic downturn a few years ago, and restrictions on gels and liquids in 2006 have caused a big increase in the number of checked bags. This leaves more bags to be checked with fewer employees. Add to this the major carriers' reliance on hubs. Connecting flights increase the probability of luggage being misplaced or not making the next flight in time either. With carriers buying smaller planes for the regional market, there have been more baggage limitations due to weight restrictions. The airline industry says the baggage problem is due mostly to delays caused by weather and an outdated air traffic control system. Analysts are saying that the problem is only going to get worse too, especially during the holiday travel season.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Buying travel insurance is your best option. Preferred travel insurance policies not only help you with lost, stolen, or damaged luggage, missed a flight, lost passports, etc., but also have an emergency "911" travel emergency service for emergency medical assistance, last-minute or emergency travel and flight changes, lost luggage tracking, pre-trip travel advice and more.

Other ways you can help yourself are to book a direct flight. Since this is usually not an option, choose flights that have at least an hour between connections. Because of the increase in baggage problems, some people are even shipping their baggage to their destination while bringing a small carry-on bag on the plane. This option even saves you time (typically 30 minutes) as you don't have to wait at the airport for your checked bags to arrive.

Make sure you obey the size and packaging requirements for personal hygiene products and medications, and anything that looks like a weapon is prohibited. Everything in your carry-on must be searchable. If you are searched, gift wrapped items will definitely be opened. Take metal items such as keys, phones, pagers, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and loose change out of your pockets. Put these in your carry-on, or in a plastic bag before you get into the security line. This keeps lines moving and you wind up having a better experience. Avoid wearing anything that contains metal, such as clothing, jewelry or other accessories such as heavy jewelry, clothing with metal buttons or snaps, belt buckles or under-wire bras. You may be additionally screened because of hidden items such as body piercings, which will cause the metal detector to go off.

Pack your coats and jackets in your baggage when possible. All coats and jackets that you are carrying must go through the X-ray machine for inspection. If you choose to wear an outer coat or jacket to the checkpoint, you will need to either pack it in your carry-on baggage or put it in one of the bins that are provided.

by Tom Buhlinger


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