Travel Insurance After a Disaster: Reflecting on the Costa Concordia

Image by RVongher, used under Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

This weekend marked the 1-year anniversary of the Costa Concordia tragedy.  It’s obviously an understatement to say that looking back on the events of last January 13 is a somber exercise; our thoughts and best wishes continue to turn to the families of those lost aboard the cruise ship on that night.  However, in moving forward from tragedy, there’s often something of value to be gained in reflection and education.  One of our responsibilities, as providers of travel insurance resources, is to use events that capture the public’s attention as a starting point to gather and share information that may be helpful to others.   Sadly, as disasters can and do happen, we sometimes have to focus on providing information about the benefits of having a travel insurance policy if something goes desperately wrong during your trip.

Last January, the passengers who survived the Costa Concordia disaster found themselves in need of many things: Food, shelter, dry clothing, medical care, and transportation.  With a trip cut so abruptly and violently short, hundreds were left scrambling to care for themselves and to find a way to get home.  While the cruise line, appropriately, offered a great deal of assistance to these passengers, as did the people of Giglio, Italy, many of the passengers affected also received aid from their travel insurance providers.  In the case of an emergency, having a comprehensive travel insurance policy generally means that you have access to 24/7 assistance.  The services provided by the assistance line will encompass a broad range of capabilities, including making the arrangements for your transportation home.  Travel insurance can also help you with reimbursement for any additional costs, whether for fares, lodgings, or food and basic necessities to replace anything you may have lost in the event of a serious travel disaster.  Many of the insurance companies whose products are featured on the InsureMyTrip website offered these services, and more, to their clients stranded by the Costa Concordia tragedy.  Those who were fortunate enough to have travel insurance after the ship’s sinking had, in essence, a direct resource that allowed them to quickly make necessary arrangements for their comfort and safety, avoiding some of the chaos and confusion that naturally follows in the wake of a disaster.

As we’re all too aware, there were some passengers aboard the Concordia who tragically did not survive the events of last January 13th.  As uncomfortable as it may be to think about insurance when discussing loss of life, travel insurance also has an important role to play in providing peace of mind even in the worst of circumstances.  Many travel insurance plans offer a service known as Repatriation of Remains, which arranges for the transportation of a traveler’s body back to his or her family after a tragedy abroad.  Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage, available through most travel insurance providers, is another important benefit that can offer some relief in the wake of a disaster such as the Costa Concordia.  It pays a specified sum of money to the beneficiaries of the policy upon the death of a traveler, similar to the way a life insurance policy may work to provide financial benefits.

While none of the travel insurance benefits we’ve discussed here could ever erase the grim realities of a disaster such as the Costa Concordia, they can provide some very tangible and much needed assistance, comfort, and peace of mind should you find yourself caught up in an unexpected emergency while traveling.  As unpleasant as it can be to think about the possibility of such a tragedy disrupting your own trip, taking a few moments to consider the ways in which travel insurance could be of assistance to you could be one of the most important trip-planning exercises you do.

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