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Before You Go

For Sunday, December 15, 2013

By McClatchy News Services


Travel insurance slammed as bad deal

After a nasty storm ripped up the East Coast on the busiest travel day of the year, you might think that buying travel insurance for holiday trips would be a no-brainer.

Not so much. The National Consumers League concluded recently that travel insurance is usually a bad deal because most policies are riddled with exceptions that allow insurance companies to reject claims.

Most insurance companies won't disclose their track record for paying out claims, making it nearly impossible to judge whether insurance is worth the money, the league points out.

"The unfortunate reality is that these protection policies bring in big bucks for the airlines each year but offer very little real value for customers," said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.

The most common exceptions used by insurance companies to reject your payout are illnesses involving a pre-existing medical condition, pregnancy or childbirth, losing a job or having a business meeting canceled, according to the league. Some policies won't pay out even if your trip is canceled because of nuclear contamination or terrorist attacks.

The U.S. Travel Insurance Association disagreed with the consumer league's conclusion, saying policies that are rife with exceptions are usually less expensive than more comprehensive policies with fewer exceptions.

Car rental firms conserve water

Hertz and Enterprise, two of the world's largest car rental companies, have tried to win the hearts of environmentalists by renting out electric vehicles.

Now both companies are going even greener by launching car-washing systems that use less water to keep rentals looking new.

Hertz has begun to use a biodegradable spray solution wiped off with microfiber towels at 220 locations across the country. Hertz hopes to expand the program next year to all of its 3,700 locations in the U.S. and Europe, saving more than 130 million gallons of water annually.

Not to be outdone, Enterprise is expanding to its outlets in Hawaii and California a nontoxic washing system that is now used only in New York and Boston.


Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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