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5 Reasons Travel Insurance Policies Are Invalidated

You are planning a holiday trip and looking forward to it. Everything is ready from your bags to your mini toiletries and travel insurance. So now you can just relax, right? Well, not quite. You can relax, but maybe not with a drink, and certainly not with any illegal drugs, and probably not if your plans include any extreme sports. Here is a list, adapted from the Consumer Insurance Guide, with the top five reasons that insurers give for invalidating travel insurance. Traveler Top Five 1. Failure to disclose. Although trip insurance is for a much shorter time period than your regular health insurance, you still must disclose your medical status. Pre-existing medical conditions, including mental, nervous, or emotional disorders, that are not disclosed can invalidate your insurance. 2. Failure to prepare. If you do not take your prescribed medication while traveling, or ignore a doctors' orders to avoid travel, that may invalidate trip insurance. It is also possible that any claims will be denied if you seek treatment resulting from a tropical disease for which there was a vaccine that you did not take. Similarly, claims resulting from sexually transmitted disease or self-inflicted injuries will likely end up denied. 3. Alcohol and Drug Use. Almost every insurance policy has a clause stating that there is no coverage from injuries resulting from use of illegal drugs or excessive drinking. Be particularly wary of these clauses and read the fine print on your trip insurance very carefully. You may not consider the amount of alcohol you consume "excessive" but you can probably bet that an insurer's standards are more strict than your own. As for drugs, even if a substance is legal in the locale you are visiting, it is possible and even likely that an insurer's policy will be used to invalidate a claim. 4. Extreme sports and general adventurousness. While extreme sports fans see their activities as thrilling, an insurer sees almost any adventurousness as risky. That means if you have plans to ride mopeds, jet ski or bungee jump, among other activities, you need to check that insurance will cover these in advance. If you plan to skydive, speak to a specialist, the Consumer Insurance Guide recommends. 5. Reckless or illegal behavior. This is a kind of catch-all category on almost every policy that allows an insurer to deny a claim with some ease. Even if your behavior does not end with you charged with a crime, an insurer can nonetheless invalidate your policy based on behavior it deems reckless. Need a Drink? If you find all those limitations on your insurance confusing and you need a drink now, do not despair. You are not alone. Insurance is very complicated and policies are often deliberately difficult to understand. Talk to a lawyer if you need a hand with your trip insurance or any other policy. Counsel can help ensure that you are covered to the full extent. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer (FindLaw Directory) Air Travel Rules FAQ (FindLaw) Hotel Questions and Answers (FindLaw)
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Online Shopping: What’s Buried in the Fine Print?

When you're shopping online, do you actually read the fine print? If you don't, you're not alone, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com. A majority of online shoppers -- 54 percent -- say they either skim or ignore online user agreements, terms of service, or other legal fine print they encounter. On the other hand, 46 percent of shoppers say they read "most" or "every word" of such agreements. The survey results are nearly identical to a similar FindLaw survey in 2011 -- though since that time, the online shopping market has grown by 50 percent to $300 billion. This suggests many online shoppers may not really know what they're getting themselves into. What's In the Fine Print? So what's typically buried in the fine print that most online shoppers ignore? Here are a few common examples of what you might be missing: Arbitration clauses. If a dispute arises, online agreements often require users to pursue arbitration instead of a lawsuit. This may limit a consumer's ability to seek relief from the court system, as some arbitration rulings cannot be appealed. Refund and return policies. What happens if you're not satisfied with the purchase you made? The legal fine print may only offer store credit, or may impose a specific time frame for returns and refund requests. Ownership v. purchase of a license. E-book owners may be surprised to learn they're actually purchasing a license to read digital books; e-book licensees typically can't share or give away their e-books to relatives or friends. Are These Agreements Enforceable? Though many courts have upheld online agreements, regardless if the consumer has read them or not, one recent ruling suggests that not all types of online fine print will pass the test. A federal appeals court in August held that an online bookseller's customer agreement -- which was buried behind a link hidden on its website -- did not give consumers sufficient notice of the legal terms they were supposedly agreeing to. That made those terms unenforceable in the eyes of the court. To learn more about consumer rights, check out FindLaw's section on Consumer Protection. If you have questions about legal fine print, and especially if you're involved in an online shopping dispute, an experienced consumer protection lawyer can help you figure out your best course of action. Related Resources: Browse Consumer Protection Lawyers by Location (FindLaw) Rushing to Shop Online? Beware Legal Pitfalls (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Tips to Protect Yourself When Using Craigslist (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Contracts and Electronic Signatures (FindLaw)
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