I recently received this question from a reader, and thought it warranted a post.
“I am wondering what thoughts/experiences you might have on travel insurance. This would be for me and my 3 daughters to travel to Hawaii for about a week in August. I am considering travel insurance because there are times that things with kids are more challenging, but more with the fact that my mother, while currently stable has had quite the last year in health issues, and I am her primary caregiver. I welcome any thoughts you might have on this. Thanks so much!”
My short answer was to get travel insurance. This is the type of situation it was made for. We buy all kinds of insurance hoping we never need to use it, but if and when we do, boy are we glad it is there.
There are all kinds of travel insurance policies. Some just cover medical care outside of the USA, others add medical evacuation, cancellation, interruption, baggage coverage, and more.
Since I travel a bunch, I now have an annual policy from Allianz that covers me for cancellation (for covered reasons), trip interruption, emergency medical care, emergency medical transportation, baggage loss or damage, baggage delay, and more for an entire year. I found an annual policy to be more cost-effective for me than buying separate polices for each trip. My policy also applies to every trip I take, even if it is a short trip in the USA.
Some general things to consider when buying a policy:
- The covered reasons for canceling: The reader was concerned about possibly canceling because of his mother’s declining health or if a child got sick, Generally, these would be covered reasons. Every policy differs, but covered reasons often include a terrorist event happening at your destination, a serious injury to yourself or a traveling companion, the death of a traveling companion or family member, a job loss, birth of a child, the destination is unhabitable, and more. Fear of getting sick on a trip is usually not a covered reason.
- Cancel for any reason coverage: Some companies offer a cancel for any reason option you can add to some policies, This is often very expensive, but is very important if you might just decide not to go or there is a possible non-covered reason you night cancel. Sometimes, you won’t get all of your money back, just a percentage, but that is better than zero.
- Pre-existing conditions: Many policies require you to purchase within a set number of days after making a reservation or putting down a deposit in order to cover any pre-existing conditions. This is especially important if you have any chronic health conditions or are recovering from a medical condition.
- How much coverage: Insure the amount of your non-refundable expenses. These are things like airline tickets, pre-paid hotels, tours, etc. If the expense is refundable, you don’t need to insure it since you will get your money back if you cancel. For most policies, you can increase the coverage amount as you pay for things just by calling the company and paying an additional premium.
Travel insurance isn’t just about cancellation. It can also cover certain medical situations your regular medical insurance won’t. For example, if you are on a cruise and need to go to the ship’s doctor, it is probably covered. End up in the hospital overseas because of a broken leg, it’s probably covered.
So back to the reader’s initial question, a family policy that covers pre-existing conditions might be the best option for his trip to Hawaii.
My second piece of advice was to have a great trip!
Do you buy travel insurance and if so, what do you look for in your policy?