Q: Peter, I read the piece you wrote about trip cancellation insurance. We only need trip cancellation (rather than a package plan including health insurance) for a cruise we will be taking next August from London to St. Petersburg on Oceania cruises. I checked out InsureMyTrip.com, and the representative said that they do not have any plans that would only sell that minimal amount of insurance. Do you have any other names of companies we can contact? Thank you.
–Roger Ritch, Duxbury, Mass.
A: Some companies have offered policies that cover trip cancellation and interruption only, but they are few and far between. And these days, they are none and far between. The vast majority of basic travel policies bundle in other coverages, such as emergency medical-and-evacuation insurance, theft protection, and lost- or delayed-baggage coverage.
There are two reasons for this: First, the extra cost of the additional coverage is negligible, and second, it offers something useful that the majority of travelers want. Most people like to know that they're covered not only in the event that they have to cancel at the last minute, but also for common problems, such as lost luggage, theft of personal items, or sudden medical crises. In other words, you may not think you want additional coverage, but you never know when it may come in handy.
I gather that you want to buy only cancellation insurance to give yourself the option to cancel your cruise if something unexpected arises before you leave. And you're probably thinking that if you canceled, you wouldn't need all that other coverage, which is true. But think of it the other way around: If you DON'T cancel your trip and you end up going, your insurance will cover other potential travel risks.
In any case, it's almost not worth it to do all the tedious legwork of finding a company that will sell you an à la carte trip-cancellation policy, when it would only save you a couple of dollars. However, if money is really tight in your household, my advice would be to just shop around for the most inexpensive "basic" policy you can find.