Grand Circle Travel Insurance

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Beware if you are injured on a Grand Circle Trip and have Trip Mate Insurance. In the fall of 2009, my roommate broke her leg on the Scandinavian Capitols Trip. Holland America cruise line was fantastic and supplied all medical care while absorbing all of that cost during the cruise. We alerted Grand Circle, Trip Mate and On Call prior to disembarking in Amsterdam which entailed costs and hours of emailing since there are no collect calls from the ship. Let me note that there was no GCT representative on the cruise for 122 GC travelers. All companies ignored the ship’s physician’s orders for special transportation to the hotel, wheel chair, crutches and a physician to administer medication prior to flight home. The GC agent in Amsterdam was never told to expect an injured traveler and in fact, there was only one representative for 122 people for the land tour in Amsterdam. I had to spend 2 days plus $70 cab fare to arrange all the medical attention as prescribed by the ship’s doctor for my roommate. On Call did arrange special transportation to airport and an upgrade to business class for one flight back to United States. <br /><br />If you are injured with Grand Circle, be prepared to handle all medical necessities and communication yourself including pushing a wheel chair. Even though GC advertises travel for mature adults- this is overwhelming in a foreign country. You must be very efficient at email with On Call. None of the agencies followed up with the traveler until we sent a certified letter later. The responses and financial reimbursement were far from satisfactory. Perhaps their performances would have been better if she had died!

My gosh! Thank goodness she did not die. Judging by your post, if she did pass away, raptriation of remains may have been a problem. . . . I don't get what so many travellers see in Grand Circle and OAT.

What a dreadful experience you had! Hopefully your friend is mending well by now. And thank you for giving us all a "heads up" on the Grand Circle/OAT insurance program.

After a past problem with OAT's air arrangements between Orlando and Buenos Aires and the lack of assistance from their On Call Customer Assistance plus other unrelated financial issues with OAT's bookkeeping and refunds, I lost faith in OAT's financial integrity, including their insurance program. Consequently, when we booked our recent trip to southern Africa, I opted out of OAT travel insurance and used AIG Travel Guard instead. Surprisingly, this decision saved us money! OAT's Trip Mate insurance would have cost my husband and me $1330 while Travel Guard's Gold more comprehensive coverage based on our respective ages (73 & 63) cost $984. Mercifully, we have never used travel insurance, but I felt more comfortable finding services outside the Grand Circle/OAT sphere.

Now, when our friends ask for travel insurance advice, I also share what I've learned from ITN.
To compare trip insurances, try
Or contact Dan Drennen at Travel Insurance Center in Omaha at 866-979-6753, ext 3621 or email

I'm not contesting your comments but I'm wondering if it's Grand Circle or TripMate that is the problem.We've only done one Grand Circle trip and it was absolutely fine. We did not use TripMate for our insurance. Is TripMate the GCT insurance company? I ask because we have known for a long time that you are much better off getting non-cruise ship insurance.Your experience certainly sounds terrible ... I'm just questioning if it's really Grand Circle that was the source of the problem.Fortunately we've never needed to use our trip insurance least not yet!

Travel insurance is always a sticky subject. I usually do not take the travel insurance offered by the tour company I am travelling with and opt to purchase my own. I had much success with Wallach and Co. I had to cancel my trip due to illness and they fully reimbursed me within two weeks time.

I hesitate to reply to this last posting ... but the purpose of this forum is to "inform / educate" fellow travellers ... so ...with respect to this last posting .......This particular topic and it's 8 or 9 postings were regarding GCT/OAT's travel insurance ... NOT THEIR TOURS, THEIR INSURANCE, and, actually, there's another topic in this forum that deals with their tours ....... Now I don't know whether their insurance is good or bad; we have another company we always use and have no experience with theirs. BUT, and obviously this is a personal choice, to condem and say you'll never use this company ... because of theirinsurance choice seems to be a bit closedminded.I've taken 6, maybe it's 7, trips with GCT/OAT and I've been very pleased with each trip.Now maybe I've been the exception, not using their insurance .... but for the money and the tours the offer, they do a very goodjob. But, as I mentioned above, insurance isn't the primary reason I pick a tour company.

We've taken several trips with OAT and Grand Circle purchasing their trip insurance each time. Not only were their trips outstanding, but when we had to cancel our last two due to my husband's back injury, one at the last minute, the insurance company refunded our money promptly.

I traveled with OAT to Africa two years ago and became ill, requiring me to stay behind for two days. Trip Mate came through for me, but the cost of the insurance was about what my medical bills were.
I am presently in the process of applying for multiple-trip insurance, in addition to evacuation insurance through Med-Jets. They will evacuate you to the medical facility of your choice, as opposed to the nearest facility that can handle your particular illness. Plus, it is considerably less expensive than Trip Mate. Call Dan Drennen at the Travel Insurance Center. See phone number listed above.

This is a horrible story but I can share one with a much happier result. On a GCT trip to Sicily in 2009 a lady on the tour had a stroke on the bus. The tour guide stopped the bus and called an ambulance take her to the nearest hospital. She had GCT insurance and an MD was flown from the US to Sicily and she was put in First Class (along with the Dr.) and returned to the US. How to explain the difference in outcomes? Who knows but it may not always be right to make blanket generalities based on a specific experience.

Another positive comment about Grand Circle/OAT insurance (it is same insurance package). I had a head injury at the Seti River Camp on their Nepal trip. Trip Mate paid all costs my primary insurance did not cover. Check was sent quickly after all documentation was submitted.

I've taken several trips with GrandCircle/OAT and each time have purchased their insurance through Trip Mate. The trips were great! When we had to cancel twice because of my husband's back problems, refunds were granted with no questions asked.

I am no apologist for GCT and we've only done one trip with them: a flight from NYC to London, a week's stay in a 4* hotel and a cruise back on the QE2. The entire trip cost half of what Cunard was charging for the cruise alone. This was in December 2004.
Grand Circle always had cruise representatives present, at the hotel AND on the ship. Fortunately, as far as I am aware, no medical problems occurred but had they done so, I feel in this particular case they would have been dealt with promptly.
We always get our own insurance but it does sound as if the insurance carrier was a big part of the problem.
I'm surprised, though, that GCT had no reps on board the ship based on our Cunard experience. The reps were there at their posts every day just in case someone needed to consult with them. That was one thing in London when they led walking tours every morning, but quite another on a ship like the QE2.
In general we avoid a cruiseline's (or tour agency's) insurance on general principles. But you do need to be careful of which carrier you choose -- or so it would seem. Sometimes the cheapest outfit isn't the best (and I'm not saying that was the case here!)

As for OA, there trips are average, but nothing exceptional Air Travel arrangement is extremely poor based on experience with 3 trips. Fine if you are NOT a seasoned traveler. Telephone reps are not very knowledgable, and the company spends too much on glossy brochures. I wont be traveling with OAT or GCT again.

Traveling abroad is something you need to plan for weeks before your trip. One of the things most people don't plan for is health insurance. This is a huge mistake as many people do end up getting sick while they travel internationally.

Moderator note:edited to remove links to advertising

We are well seasoned domestic and international travelers in our active mid 50's. I am usually the planner and prefer to book my own customized trips a step at a time without an agent. I have rarely had a problem even in remote areas with extreme language barriers. However due to some extreme busyness we decided on the spur of the moment to book the trip with OAT to Egypt and pre- trip to Jordan for June 2011. I assumed it would be all crotchety old people and with the price being so reasonable we would have bad hotels and meals and substandard  guides. However I was too busy and tired to do my usual planning and thought 'hey at least we'll see the high points'. Then the revolution! I waited and watched it calming down and OAT said it was on. It was the best off the cuff decision I ever made! This trip was start to finish  wonderful. We had excellent guiding from people who had worked almost exclusively for a number of years with OAT. The hotels were top notch except for one in Petra which they changed next trip( of course they aren't running this trips just now with the further unrest). Food was wonderful. The groups are under 14 so very manageable. No giant tour buses - nice  minibuses with plenty of space for your stuff and to spread out. Our guides were very accommodating if we wanted to stop and see things along our route. Someone mentioned being hungry for ice cream and he took us to a wonderful neighborhood  place for desserts and ice cream on the spur of the moment. I was amazed at the people on our trip - Dr, business owners CEOs and no one was old Or crotchety!! We are taking the Ultimate Africa next winter. Our fellow travelers were mainly OAT vets and they raved about every trip they had been on which between them seemed to encompass every trip offered. All said they had initially heard bad things but tried them out anyway and never looked back.   Just my late to the thread two cents...  And FYI I am pretty booking and cost savvy and you cannot book what they do ANY cheaper. To me it is a game and I have tried to beat their prices booking locally on the phone and web  while looking at several of their trips.