How I Saved $201.49 On Travel Insurance

In just a few days, I get on a small airplane and then a REALLY big airplane to head to some country on the other side of the ocean. You might remember me talking about it about once a week, in a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to make y’all jealous. I can only assume it’s working, since one of you egged my car last night. The cops are on it, so you might as well just confess now.

A couple of months ago when I announced this, friend of the blog Holy Potato expressed concern in my comment section. No, he wasn’t calling a moron for doing the trip — none of you did, actually, even after I practically dared you to — he was concerned about my health insurance coverage. Would my provincial coverage apply outside of Canada? How difficult would it be to get health insurance in that part of the world? It just showed all my readers really care and if we ever all got together it would be group hug after group hug.

Or not. Whatever.

So I looked into it. As far as I could tell I have some short-term coverage as a perk on my credit card, but that only got me as far as ‘Murica. My provincial coverage didn’t cover me in South Korea. I didn’t check Japan or China, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t covered there either. Those are the three places I know I’m going to visit, so it was obvious I was going to have to get travel insurance. Since I’m a freelancer now I’m going without traditional work benefits, so there was no back door coverage from them.

First up, I phoned the Alberta Motor Association, who has my auto insurance. I switched from ING Insurance (now Intact Financial) to AMA back in 2008 when I was pissed off disappointed my auto premium only went down $20 compared to the year before. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but switching saved me about 25% a year. It was an easy choice.

So I talk to somebody at AMA and get quoted $488.77 for 152 days of coverage (I plan to come back to Canada for a couple weeks over Christmas). This is a blanket Asia policy which included no deductible, $5 million in coverage, and the option to transport me home if I’m stable and it ends up being cheaper for the insurer. I’m happy with the amount of coverage, but not really with the price.

Next person I visited was the attractive redhead at my local insurance broker’s office. She was VERY perky (no double entendre even implied, dammit), and was happy to punch some information into a computer for me. She printed me out the following sheet.

travel-insurance

 

Hey, now we’re talking. She quoted me a full $107 off the original price offered by the competition, coming in at $381.52. Worst case scenario, I’d take this travel insurance. It had some nice perks too, like a $10 million limit, no deductible, and I made sure my short layover in the U.S. was covered. And did I mention a cute redhead helped me out with it?

But alas, this frugal champion marched further. There was one place I hadn’t yet tried. It’s Canada’s largest online insurance broker, kanetix . I went on the site, typed in a few pieces of information, and literally a minute later I had a dozen quotes to look at. I narrowed it down to the top 4, and then took this screen shot.

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Travel Underwriters had two products in the all-important top four, one with a $250 deductible and one with a zero deductible. Something called Travel Guard came in second place. I’m assuming it has to be cheap because it sounds like what you’d call your emergency travel condom. It only has $1 million in coverage, but in reality, how hard is it even to hit $1 million in damages when abroad? These are places that have reasonable medical costs.

Admittedly I’m not a travel insurance expert, but I went ahead and read the Travel Underwriters policy. It was pretty straightforward. You have to have no preexisting conditions within the last 6 months. Even undiagnosed stuff, like experiencing chest pains before getting on the plane. You also have to still be in your province of residence while applying, and they reserve the right to fly you back to Canada if its cheaper and you’re not about to kick it. And, of course, they ask if you’ve smoked at any point over the last two years too. NAH I HAVEN’T I’M JUST SMOKIN’ HOT HEY LADIES DON’T SHOVE.

It looked to me like a pretty standard policy, and I didn’t see anything alarming in the fine print. So I went ahead and chose the Travel Underwriters option but with the $250 deductible. I was okay with the deductible because it’s emergency coverage. I’m not buying it for when I get a little bit of the runs over some strange food. I’m buying it to cover getting hit by a car or a North Korean henchman.

I also think there’s a very high probability I won’t use this policy, but this is why travel insurance exists.

Kanetix is a pretty smooth operator. I didn’t even have to print a copy of my policy. I downloaded their travel insurance app, and just clicked on the link they provided in the confirmation email. It automatically downloaded a copy of my policy to the app, and that was it.

It took about 10 minutes to get travel insurance through Kanetix. It was fast, easy, and the policy I have is underwritten by a reputable insurer. When it comes time to shop for home and auto insurance again, I plan to give Kanetix a try. I saved more than 40% by using it. That’s a huge savings for the amount of work. I recommend you run all your insurance through kanetix  when it’s time to renew. I bet you’ll save a couple hundred bucks like I did.

 

How I Saved $256.48 On My Las Vegas Hotel

And the best part is, I haven’t even showed up yet. Which should give you a pretty big hint about what I did.

Every year since 2010 I’ve made the trip down south to the glitz and glamour of Sin City. I like the food, the constant buzz of The Strip, the vast array of entertainment options, the chance to play live poker, and just being able to relax around the pool. It’s truly one of my favorite places on Earth, which probably makes me a pretty boring person. Assuming otherwise would be a pretty bad idea.

But because I am a frugal leader (could there be anything more douchey?) I don’t want to pay 1 million dollars to stay there. I’m already going to spend a bunch of money stuffing my face and losing at the poker/blackjack tables, so I want to keep my costs down. I also want to stay somewhere civilized, because what’s the point of going on vacation just to sleep somewhere crappier than I sleep now? I want to defile a new set of sheets with my nude body, dammit.

Luckily for me, I’ve mastered the wisdom of the Hotwire, a website that lets you save a bunch of money on hotels if you agree to one little condition, which is you won’t actually know which hotel it is until you’ve given Hotwire your cash. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to be pretty good at gaming Hotwire, and if you’re going to Vegas it’s actually really easy to figure out which hotel you’ll be staying at. Let’s take a look at what I did.

I ended up getting the Tropicana Hotel, on the south end of The Strip, for $28 USD a night. Yeah, there’s a $20 resort fee on top of that, but you’re going to be paying that no matter where you stay on The Strip, so let’s just pretend that doesn’t exist. I’ve stayed at the Trop before, during last year’s vacation, where I paid $59 per night. The same room currently goes on Expedia for $88 per night in Canadian dollars, which is where I got the amount I saved for the title of this post.

But I didn’t bother to take pictures of the exercise, so I’ll have to demonstrate a different hotel for the purpose of this post. Allow me to present Vanessa’s favorite hotel, The Luxor.

Notice these are screenshots off my phone. This will become important in a second.

Notice these are screenshots off my phone. This will become important in a second.

(Seriously, she won’t shut up about how awesome the Luxor is, even though she’s never stepped foot in the place.)

How do I know this is for the Luxor though? Amenities are pretty much identical as every other Vegas resort. It has a casino, pool, places to eat, fitness center, and internet access. So does every other hotel in the city. Oh, and free parking. Everyone likes to park for free. AND THEN NECK BECAUSE THEY’RE TEENAGERS FROM THE 1950s.

That’s when I start to read the reviews, which you can do on the Hotwire App by pressing on the “65% customer recommended” spot there. If there’s a way to read the reviews on Hotwire’s website, I’ve yet to find it. That’s reason number 1 why it’s important to use the app.

Here’s the review screen. I’m about 80 reviews deep here.

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The reviews usually cut off once people start putting in stuff that could give you a hint about which hotel they’re talking about, but useful stuff sneaks through. This is why it’s important to read all the reviews you can about a place. It becomes pretty easy to figure out, especially for Vegas hotels. When I was checking out reviews for the unnamed hotel that eventually became the Tropicana, a review snuck through where the person said “We really enjoyed out stay at the Tropicana.” COME ON HOTWIRE. AT LEAST MAKE IT A CHALLENGE FOR ME.

Notice what JLO (the real JLo? Probably.) said in her review up there? She talked about the smoke smell in the pyramid, and then was too lazy to spell out definitely. She all but told us that we’d be getting the Luxor. That’s how easy it is to figure out.

Or, for about a third of Vegas hotels, you can just go directly to the Hotwire website and it’ll just tell you which hotel you’ll get. I’m not sure if this is just a Vegas thing, but it kinda makes all my work for nothing and that makes me sadface 🙁

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 8.28.54 PMBut wait, there’s more.

If you book a Hotwire hotel using the iPhone app before the end of March, you’ll save $25 on your stay, providing you spend $100. My room at the Trop was $33 per night, which I shaved down to $28 per night by using the coupon code APP25. Booking it on my phone took barely longer than doing it online. They’ve done a nice job designing the app to make the process pretty easy.

(EDIT: THIS DEAL IS OVER. SORRY ABOUT YOUR LUCK.)

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These are American prices, all across the board. As you can see, my $33 hotel room became a $28 hotel room. And that’s how I scored a 4 star hotel for 5 nights for the price of a 4 star hotel for 1 night. Hotwire is the best. Paying retail is for chumps.

Looking to book your own smokin’ deal? Just click this very link here: 4-star hotels. 2-star prices. Save up to 50% with low Hotwire Hot-Rates!