Travel Insurance for New Parents
Updated with Coronavirus information.
Prior to having our child, we had traveled to over 40 countries, spending tens of thousands of dollars and never even gave a second thought to travel insurance. As carefree adults we knew that we were taking a gamble, but it was a gamble we could (relatively) control—and could confidently handle any fallout from our travels. Fast forward to a few trips with our child and now our first order of business after booking our flights is to purchase travel insurance.
Why did we change our minds?
We discovered that after registering high fevers, scary tumbles and general destructive toddler behavior, our control over what happens before and during travel had diminished drastically. In short, the greater financial risk (and gamble) was no longer worth taking.
What Travel Insurance Is, And Why You Should Consider It
Travel insurance can cover your family in the event of a cancelled trip, missed flights, lost luggage, and / or medical emergency while traveling. Purchasing travel insurance could be extremely beneficial to families in the event of an emergency, helping you bear the financial responsibility if things go awry. If you are traveling outside the country, making non-refundable reservations on pricey vacations or are worried about medical emergencies where your medical insurance may not cover the whole cost, travel insurance should be on the top of your trip planning to-do list.
Family travel entails introducing a lot more variables than solo travel. From any illnesses encountered before and during travel to small accidents that end up having bigger repercussions, you find that less is within your control. Just think about the amount of times you call or visit the pediatrician's office in a 2-3 month span—the likelihood that you’ll be met with an illness prior to or during vacation greatly increases when you factor in kids. And if your kids can’t talk and tell you what’s wrong, trying to decide whether they are well enough to forgo a doctor’s visit while in another country or on a cruise ship shouldn’t be dependent on cost.
While we were traveling in Cuba, my husband tumbled down stairs with our child in his arms, and a few moments later we noticed our son was limping. That terrified us for the first few days of our trip—we were debating if we should just cut the trip short and get him back to the U.S. Bottom line: you don’t want to think about a financial investment when you are considering medical attention or needing to change your travel plans.
Will we purchase travel insurance for all our trips? Not always, but it’s now part of the trip planning discussion.
Does Insurance Cover Everything?
Types of coverage and the dollar value of coverage varies greatly when it comes to offerings and carrier. Rick Steves has a good rundown on the types of coverage with his insightful commentary.
And while you may have heard horror stories of agencies not honoring coverage, it’s important to be aware that not all insurance products are created equal. For example “travel protection” and “travel insurance” are not subject to the same regulations—the former should be examined carefully. There are also things that may not be covered with a given package—medical evacuation, pre-existing conditions, and “any reason cancellation” are examples of coverages not included in all packages—so read the fine print carefully. Of course, doing your research is a big part of the process, but insurance aggregators can help make the comparison and selection process a lot easier and faster. Sites like InsureMyTrip or Squaremouth have products from over 20 providers, over 20,000 customers reviews and in certain cases can advocate claims on your behalf.
Which Provider Should I Go With?
While this is a personal choice, the heavyweights are Allianz, Seven Corners, and Travelex though smaller carriers could offer more competitive rates. NerdWallet has a more extensive post with greater information on other players in the space.
What You Should Know As You Make Your Decision
While researching and choosing insurance is certainly not an exciting part of vacation planning, it is nice to have some extra piece of mind--especially when it comes to those larger trips where the stakes are higher and the little ones like to roam.
Coronavirus Update: With the increasing cases of Coronavirus globally, many travelers are opting for "Cancel for Any Reason" insurance - an optional upgrade to many policies. While more expensive and less flexible in terms of purchase timing, these policies are an option to explore for travelers worried about the future of this virus.