The California Highway Patrol reported that one passenger was killed and 11 people, including the driver and 6 children, were injured on Saturday, September 24. A charter bus returning from Yosemite National Park that was carrying students from China hit a tree on Highway 41, north of Oakhurst.

The CHP states the bus was carrying 22 people: a group of Chinese students ranging from 12 to 15 years of age, and 4 chaperones, plus the driver. Patients were taken by 3 helicopters and 9 ambulances to Community Regional Medical Center in Downtown Fresno and Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County.

Many Chinese tour agencies tend to cooperate with Chinese-operated bus charter companies because they understand the language and the price is worth it. Although the price may be important, checking the conditions of the bus companies and tour agencies is priority to ensure your client’s safety. Before booking a bus, you should check the age and condition of the vehicles, insurance, experience of the driver and the reputation of the company in the business.

A charter bus company that transports 16 or more passengers must carry a minimum of $5 million in liability insurance. If an accident claim exceeds the liability limit, the company will have to pay out-of-pocket. If the company cannot afford it, they could be driven to close business which may cost consumers’ rights.

Before you choose a tour agency, check the below questions and make sure they are all answered to your satisfaction.

1.  Experience

  • What is the reputation of the agency? Do they have related experience?
  • Are they brokers or do they own the agency? Some brokers will subcontract trips through another company. Who will be responsible if accidents occur?
  • Is your tour guide experienced? Has she/he traveled to the destination?

2. Price

  • What is included in the price quote? Accommodations? Airport construction fee? Fuel charges?
  • Are you fully insured? What is the amount of gratuity? What is customary, and how is it handled?
  • Will there be any “forced shopping” tours in the trip?

3. Tour Inclusions

  • What is the itinerary?
  • What schools will you be going to? Are the class schedules and teachers confirmed yet?
  • Is the accommodation close to downtown or any tourist spot? Is it safe? What is the rating of the accommodation?
  • What transportation will be used from city to city?

Two other must-dos after you picked a tour agency

First, you will sign a contract and pay. The contract must include: itinerary, price, liability for breach of contract. After you paid for the tour, don’t forget to keep the invoice, agenda, notice and any other rules in the contract. Ask for as much information as you can in order to prevent any incidents that might ruin your trip (e.g.  the tour guide’s name, contact information, the departure date and time).

The next step is to purchase Travel Insurance!  Travel insurance is usually included in the price quote of the tour. But we suggest that you get travel insurance that covers you completely based on the country you’re traveling to and how the insurance would apply to your situation.

If you travel to the U.S. without insurance and an accident occurs, it may cost a thousand times your assets to pay for the medical expenses. Therefore, make sure you have Visit USA-HealthCare™ to protect you when you’re traveling to the U.S.

Are you ready for your trip? We welcome you to visit us in Los Angeles!