Family Vacation Tips

What You Don't Know About Travel Insurance For Families...

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 9, 2013 10:31:00 PM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

Travel Insurance  American Express resports that 1 in every 4 people are not protected by travelers insurance when they travel.  The Association Of British Travel Agents concurs stating millions are putting themselves at risk of sky high medical bills, with nearly one in four (24%) of travellers holidaying abroad without travel insurance, representing a notable increase from one in five (20%) in 2011.

Family vacations are suppose to be care free, fun filled days that will be remembered fondly forever. No body wants to think that anything bad might happen but sadly it often does...

Cheri Patterson booked a dream cruise for her family of four 1.5 years in advance so that she could get a great rate and make affordable payments. SURPRISE! She found out she's pregnant and will be 8 months at the time of the cruise and will not be allowed to sail.

36 people from the Rodriguez family have been planning and saving for their family reunion for months. It's the first time in decades that everyone will all be together in Cancun to celebrate Grandpa's 75th birthday. Grandma has a bit too many drinks their first night in resort, falls and breaks her ankle.

The two Lawrence teens thought it would be fun to take the family's rental car for a joy ride in the Dominican Republic. They swerved, hit a tree and both ended up in intensive care needing to be air lifted back to Miami for specialized life saving treatments.

The Anderson family booked a tropical Christmas vacation as a special anniversary celebration. This is a first class vacation that cost the family well over $10,000.00. Pregnant mom is packing for their three small children the night before departure. As Dad carries the suitcases down the stairs he collapses from a brain aneurysm and dies instantly.

The McMann family is flying from NYC to Jamaica for their April vacation. Suddenly NYC is hit with a late season blizzard. The airports are closed and because it's spring break week it's impossible to change their travel plans.

2 year old Jessica Powers wakes up with chicken pox on the morning her family is set to head to the airport.

Family vacations during Hurricane season and a storm is forecasted...To quote the Clash's hit from the 80's - "Should I stay or should I go"?

My own mother suffered a heart attack while vacationing with my father in Florida. She needed bypass surgery and spent 6 weeks in intensive care. Upon discharge, she still needed oxygen so she had to be flown home to Pennsylvania by medical transport. The costs nearly bankrupted my family!

These are just a few true stories that we've dealt with over the years. None of these families thought they needed to buy travel insurance, my own family included. Let's face it, nobody has a crystal ball and can see what the future holds. This is why the staff of vacationkids HIGHLY recommends travel insurance with every family vacation that we sell. We believe that peace of mind, the protection of your family and vacation investment are all very important.


The cost of travel insurance generally runs between 6-10 percent of the total cost of your vacation. Besides cost, understanding travel insurance can be very confusing. The fine print on travel insurance policies will make your head spin. Just as every family had different vacation needs, every travel insurance policy has different rules, exclusions, co-pays, reimbursements and restrictions. This article contains some basic pointers to help our parents choose the right coverage for their vacations.

Know What Your Family Needs
Generally we recommend that all family vacations be covered for medical costs, trip cancellation and trip interruption. This is the basic coverage that no family should leave home without. When it comes to trip cancellation insurance, the cancel for any reason insurance usually offers the best coverage. It tends to cost 1-3 percent more than regular travel insurance but allows the most flexibility with the least restrictions. Trip interruption insurance usually comes with a list of rules for coverage but basically if you need to cut your trip short and return home quickly you're covered. Last minute flights are usually the most expensive so this is a good reason for trip interruption coverage.

Do Your Homework
People spend SO much time planning for their vacation and totally neglect protecting themselves by researching their insurance needs. Before you even start making reservations, do this research first. Three types of important travel insurance coverage that families need are...

1. Medical coverage - When planning a trip, especially to a foreign country, it is best to find out from your primary health care administrator (individual or group private medical insurance, HMO, PPO, Medicare, ministry of health, etc.) whether you are covered for medical expenses incurred while traveling. Many people are surprised to discover that their health care provider offers little or no protection or reimbursement for the costs of any type of medical treatment received in a foreign country. When traveling domestically, travel protection plans cover increased out-of-pocket expenses that result from higher co-pays and deductibles that may result if you are out of your covered network area. Many foreign countries require payment in full for any medical treatment before allowing hospital discharge. So unless you have a very high credit limit on your credit card, you may find yourself in a serious situation without medical coverage. If you are planning a very active vacation like skiing, scuba diving or other types of adventure travel that may be considered risky, you may need specific health insurance coverage due to the added risk of injury for these activities.

2. Trip Cancellation - Like the pregnant mom or the child with chicken pox, you've made payment and confirmed your trip and you find that you need to cancel or change your plans. Depending on the specific rulse of your trip you may need to pay change fees, penalties or forfeit the full cost of your trip.  Trip cancellation coverage protects you from these costs. Again you need to fully understand the fine print. Some travel insurance policies will allow you to cancel for specific reasons like medical reasons. "Cancel for any reason coverage" is generally a bit more expensive but, like the name implies if a special project comes up at work or your decide at the last minute you don't feel like going, your vacation investment is protected.

3. Trip Interruption - Your enjoying a great vacation and suddenly you find out Grandma has been hospitalized or a tropical storm is headed straight for your Caribbean island. You need to get home fast...and this usually means very high priced last minute travel prices.  Remember you've already paid for your hotel and existing for the you really think they are going to give you a refund. Trip interruption coverage covers you for these events.

Travel Insurance Tips....

Check your credit Card company - Some high end credit cards offer their members the benefit of free or low cost travel insurance if they use said credit card to pay for their vacation. Double check to make sure it offers the coverage your family needs and read the fine print. Why pay for coverage that you may already have. Just be sure this coverage covers your family fully. If not you may need to purchase additional coverage.

Insurance Policies - Your current homeowners policy may offer you coverage on some of your personal items that you may be taking along on your vacation if they are lost, damaged or stolen. If you plan to rent a car while you are on holiday, check to see if you current auto policy will offer you any additional protection....again, why pay for coverage that you may already have.

Get Travel Insurance Immediately -It's best to get your insurance as soon as your confirm your travel plans. Some insurance companies only give you 24 hours after booking to buy insurance. Why?...because otherwise folks wouldn't buy insurance until they had the need to cancel. In some cases, if you buy insurance immediately,  pre-existing medical conditions are covered or the price of insurance may be cheaper. Again, it all depends on each insurance company and the type of policy you buy.

Know The Fine Print -Many times families buy travel insurance, get their policy, stick it in the drawer and then later are disappointed if they need to make a claim and discover their insurance doesn't cover their claim. Please review your travel insurance policy as soon as you receive it and if you have any questions, call the customer help line and ASK questions. It's best to be information early than to be surprised later.

Annual Travel Policies - If you or your family travel frequently, it is far more cost effective to buy an annual policy that will protect you for the entire year, not just for a specific trip.

Unique Family Travel Issues -Family vacations also come with a couple of unique issues. Often we're asked about travel insurance and pregnant moms. If you take out insurance knowing that you are pregnant, then the pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition and often is not covered. If you book your trip and then become pregnant, this is another good reason to pay the extra for the cancel for any reason insurance. Pregnancy is considered high risk for travel insurance companies so they often do not cover it. The other question we're often asked is about lap children under the age of two that fly free seated on their parent's lap. Normally they are covered under their parent's insurance but again, you need to read the fine print on your policy to know for sure.

This article has barely scratched the surface of all there is to know regarding travel insurance. The Vacationkids staff are highly experienced travel agents. We are not licensed insurance agents. We do not have all the answers when it comes to all the legal-ese lingo found on most travel insurance policies. You'll read many pros and cons online about whether or not to purchase travel insurance. Over the years, it has been the experience of our staff that in most cases, travel insurance has protected our clients from financial hardship and so we continue to highly recommend it. So whether you purchase travel insurance with us, buy it online or through some other source, we suggest that your family doesn't leave home without it.

Topics: family vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts