I have a confession to make. I have never purchased travel insurance before. All of the trips I have made have either been in my youth, too short, or without children, for me to even consider shelling out the funds for protection. Thankfully, I have been lucky, and have not gotten sick, had to cancel travel plans, or have anything of great value, lost or stolen.
As an adult, I am not so foolhardy to believe that I am immune to illness or accidents. Dan had an emergency appendectomy a couple of years ago, that cost us about $10,000 out of pocket WITH medical insurance, and triggered our current life insurance plan. We know how essential it is to be covered for catastrophic events that could not only change the direction of our finances, but also have a devastating impact on our emotional wellbeing. As mentioned in a previous post, keeping our children safe and healthy is of utmost importance.
We will have travel insurance for the duration of our trip, and researched several policies to find one that will work best for our family. In evaluating different coverage, here was our list of considerations:
This is about the value placed on your air tickets, any tours or hotel reservations that are paid for in advance, trip delay, missed connections, trip interruption, and delayed, lost or stolen baggage.
We are not concerned with insuring the cost of our airfare, as we do not plan on canceling (!), and we are buying many of our tickets as we go. Although I do not consider trip protection a necessity, I would appreciate any included coverage that helps out financially with unexpected costs associated with trip delays (i.e. extra hotel nights/meals, and baggage delay). We did not have this coverage when we went to Iceland, and sure enough, Dan’s bag was temporarily lost. Thankfully, we had a friend in Reykjavik who could lend a sweater, scarf and hat, as it was freezing, and Dan was ill-prepared when he got off the flight! Trip protection may have provided an extra stipend to buy clothes in this situation.
This will also be the first time that we will be traveling with valuable electronics. In the past, a camera and perhaps our backpacks, were the most expensive possessions we had. This trip will find us loaded down with a laptop, 2 ipads, a smart phone, and at least 1 camera. Although we could survive the loss of any of these items, they are necessities to our children’s road schooling, and would be painful on our budget to replace. Therefor, I believe it is worthwhile to research the added insurance costs for these items.
Travel Medical Insurance
This is our primary focus when studying various insurance policies. We want to be insured for medical costs, if any of us get sick or injured on the road, and we absolutely want medical evacuation coverage, in the event that our family has to be evacuated to a different city or country for care. After reading the blog, Escape Artistes, and learning of how the writer’s son fell from a horse in a very remote part of Mongolia, badly breaking his arm, and then having to be flown to Hong Kong for surgery, all amounting to fees around $150,000, I see the immense value in being comprehensively covered for medical evacuation!
Whether we want to or not, we also have to consider repatriation in the event of death, something I cannot let my mind dwell on.
It is important to read all the fine print, as most policies have medical coverage exclusions for extreme sports. Even though we won’t be bungee-jumping or leaping out of planes, some insurance providers consider bike riding an “extreme” sport.
My initial plans are to take advantage of a special and very basic travel insurance we can get through our work, which would cover our family for 6 months of travel at $224 (update – this policy was not an available option once we were ready to depart). It is not possible to extend this coverage, unless we return to the states, so we might have to consider a new company like World Nomads for the last 6 months of travel. I also plan on reviewing our home owners insurance to see if they provide any additional coverage while abroad, and to look into any travel insurance that we can get for free through a credit card company. As licensed travel agents, we can also compare any coverage that we get by having an IATAN ID card.
In final summation, we agree that medical/catastrophic coverage is a necessity, but there is always more to consider. As an example, most policies end the minute you return home, but some offer an extension when you get back, which would be very useful if we do not have US health care lined up when we return to the states.
Update – We decided to cover our first 6 months of travel with a World Nomads family policy for approximately $840. We plan to purchase the next 6 months later with the same company.