Family Vacation Tips

Do We Need Travel Insurance?

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 26, 2019 6:58:00 AM / by Mary Ellen Nunes

Mary Ellen Nunes

Many people hate the idea of spending money on insurance - whether it's for home, car, health, etc - until they need it. Then they are so grateful to have the coverage.  Travel insurance is much the same -- you hope you’ll never need to use it, but let’s face it, your vacation is an investment in your family - don’t you want to insure it the way you would your car?

Cruise Passenger Medevacked from Ship, Denied Medical Service by Hospital

medevac 2

--this was a headline recently about a man who suffered an acute appendicitis on a cruise.  Transported to a hospital in Mexico, the treatments came to a screeching halt when they realized he did not have coverage - and no travel insurance - to pay for the service.  Things turned out okay for him,but not without many thousands of dollars of out of pocket expenses for him. 


What is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance helps protect the financial costs you have paid into your trip as well as provides medical coverage for when you are traveling.    Like car insurance, most of the time, you never use it - you can go years without ever needing to file a car insurance or homeowner’s insurance claim. But like a car accident, you cannot predict when an emergency will happen.  Let’s be honest - most of us can’t throw away money.

“While on a cruise for their 50th anniversary, my former next door neighbor passed away. The travel insurance paid for everything, including shipping his body back home. I will always, always, always get the insurance!”

“I was very thankful for travel insurance the year my dad passed away we had to cancel the trip/house.”

 "The airlines cancelled all flights in anticipation of a winter snow storm, right when I so needed to get to Miami for my cruise.  I missed that cruise, but was able to reschedule it. So glad I had the insurance!"

Traveling without insurance can be a bit of a gamble. If someone in your family gets sick or bad weather closes the airport for the day, you could find yourself out of pocket for the entire cost of your vacation. If you experience a medical emergency care while traveling there may additional costs involved like getting you transferred to a better hospital or expensive last minute travel arrangements to get you home quickly.  Many foreign hospitals require patients pay for all medical services up front.  You hope this won’t happen to you, but you’d be surprised how often it does.

When do I have to ask for travel insurance?  It's best to purchase travel insurance within one week of booking your trip.  Some vacations are booked as one entire package.  Other itineraries are a bit more customized and might include several separate reservations from different companies. Each of these different reservations may not all be booked at the same time.  That's okay, just know it's important to add the proper insurance coverage to each reservation once they are confirmed. For example, let's say you've booked a cruise two years in advance and flight schedules and prices are not yet available. Insure your cruise and then upgrade your flights, hotels and sightseeing as you confirm those reservations.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you must buy travel insurance at the time you book your trip.  Read an review all fine print and make sure that you purchase a policy that will cover pre-existing conditions. All policies are not alike.

Insurance prices can increase the closer you get to your departure date and coverage inclusions may change. For example if a storm is predicted for your departure date, it's too late to buy cancellation insurance.  If you found out that your company is projecting layoffs in 2 weeks and your trip is in a month, it's too late. 

“On a trip to Europe, my suitcase was lost.  10 days in Europe with only what was in my carry-on!  Travel insurance reimbursed me for the unexpected shopping I had to do to buy new clothes.  “

How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?  Travel insurance costs less than 10% of the total cost of your vacation.   We offer this number as a rough estimate but usually it's far less than that. Would it be worth paying $500 back if you needed to cancel a $5000 family vacation at the very last minute?  Would it be worth $500 to cover your son's appendectomy that costs $250,000.00?

When do I not need travel insurance? It’s true - there are times when it does not make sense to buy travel insurance.  A last minute road trip to the coast - nope, probably not worth it.  You found $150 airfare to stay with Aunt Lynne in Denver? You should be fine without it. The general rule of thumb is if the cost of the travel insurance is more than the non-refundable part of your vacation, everyone is generally healthy and you’re not leaving your home country, then you may not need it.  If, however, you are leaving the country, you should always have travel insurance.  

How do I know what to do if there is an emergency?  Most travel insurance policies will also include a travel assistance component.  This is not a travel agent - they won’t plan your car service from the airport to your resort, or schedule the best sightseeing tour on the island. They will, however, be there 24/7 for you in the event of an emergency.  They will help you locate medical care, arrange emergency transportation, even help you arrange for replacement passports if yours are stolen.

There are so many companies out there, which one do I use?  For this, ask your travel agent for recommendations, but also be sure to educate yourself.  Many vacation packages come with a travel insurance option.  In most cases it best to purchase your travel insurance separately. Your travel agent will help define your family's specific needs and help direct you to the right travel insurance options.

Connect with a Vacationkids Family Travel Advisor

Topics: Affordable Family Vacations, Family Vacation Health, Family Vacation

Mary Ellen Nunes

Written by Mary Ellen Nunes

Mary Ellen is our Vacationkids expert on all things Disney: From the parks to cruises and Disney's Adventure Bound vacations, Mary Ellen will help you plan your Disney vacation. She is also a Certified Family Travel Specialist from the Family Travel Association, having been helping families create amazing memories since 2014.

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