I never planned on someone stealing my smartphone right out of my hands in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania a few years ago. But when it happened, instead of chasing the guy (like my driver wanted to) and waiting around for hours to file a (totally worthless) police report, I just called my travel insurance provider. In only a few weeks I’d been reimbursed for the cost of the lost phone.
While my family fortunately has not had any major disasters on the road, especially when traveling internationally with kids it’s imperative to plan for the unexpected. Things like high fevers, lost luggage or injury can all ruin a family trip.
Travel insurance is one smart way to protect your family along with the financial investment you’ve made in travel.
BUT the bottom line is that purchasing family travel insurance is really confusing. I’ve spent hours pouring through options and quotes so you don’t have to. Here are the basics of what you need to know about purchasing family travel insurance.
When to Purchase Family Travel Insurance
I don’t typically purchase travel insurance for simple trips where the total cost is less than a few thousand dollars. But for big, international trips that include expensive flights, I always purchase some sort of travel protection.
Travel insurance should be purchased as soon as you’ve made payment on a trip. If you’ve booked travel through a travel agent or tour operator, you should purchase travel insurance as soon as you make a trip deposit.
If you are traveling independently, the first large payment you will likely make is on airfare. Purchase travel insurance as soon as you purchase your flights.
How to Get a Quote for Family Travel Insurance
Here is where things get really confusing, really fast. Searching online for “family travel insurance” will lead you to a number of sites where you can get a quote.
At a minimum, family travel insurance should cover the following things:
- Medical expenses and evacuation in the case of a medical emergency
- Expenses associated with loss or delay of baggage, loss of passport
- And perhaps most importantly, trip cancellation. You’ll see a “cancel for any reason” (and in some cases work reasons) option as an upgrade on many policies, which is helpful to include if your family schedule is prone to last minute changes.
One of the things I find so frustrating about shopping for family travel insurance is the fact that no two companies or policies are the same. It’s never comparing apples to apples, which makes it challenging to compare policies and quotes.
To get a quote, you’ll be asked which country you’re going to, birth dates of your family, dates of travel and when you made your travel deposit (must be before travel insurance is purchased.) When getting quotes on travel insurance, I always put the trip deposit date as the date flights were purchased, if not booking through a tour operator
Make sure you’re getting the most accurate quote possible by entering in as much information as possible. According to Megan Singh, Director of Marketing at SquareMouth, “Some travel insurance providers offer “kids free pricing”, which can be a more affordable option for families traveling with multiple children. In order to be eligible for this, most providers require at least one adult be insured on the policy.”
But it’s a good idea to get a few independent quotes to get a feel for the base price you’ll be looking at for coverage. I really like the travel insurance comparison site SquareMouth. Here you can compare quotes and most importantly read traveler reviews.
There are a number of new travel insurance companies I’d not heard of, so the recent reviews on SquareMouth were helpful as I waded through the results.
Using Your Credit Card’s Family Travel Insurance
Now I can’t speak for all cards, but my United Mileage Plus Explorer card comes with some pretty awesome travel protection benefits and I’m glad I realized this before I purchased something from a 3rd party!
As long as travel is purchased on the card, using my United Mileage Plus Explorer card my family is covered for baggage delay, lost luggage, trip delay/cancellation, and auto rental collision damage.
But notably absent is medical coverage and emergency evacuation from this coverage provided by the credit card. It’s important to understand what is covered so you can supplement where necessary. For this trip, my family will need to purchase separate medical evacuation coverage. After shopping around I discovered that for my family TravelGuard had the best rates on medical evacuation insurance.
Medical Evacuation insurance is important because emergency evacuation and care is often separate from medical coverage (via travel insurance or your home coverage policy). This can cover everything from evacuation to your home country in the event of a broken leg while hiking to emergency evacuation in the case of a natural disaster. This protection usually covers an expense of $300,000 USD and up on most policies.
I have seen that some other credit cards include 31 days of travel medical coverage (my United card does not), so be sure to call your credit card company for a full overview of benefits before you purchase any family travel insurance.
The Bottom Line When Purchasing Family Travel Insurance
It’s worthwhile to spend some time doing your research before purchasing travel insurance for your family vacation. Get a few quotes, compare coverage and see what will work best for your family.
I hope you find this useful! Questions? Let me know in the comments below!