Thursday, June 16, 2011

Traveling with kids: travel insurance

I'm an experienced air traveler, and used to looking for deals on flights. That's why I'm traveling out of Seattle rather than Vancouver when we're going to Sweden in July, for example. But after all these years of traveling, I am still a very bad shopper when it comes to travel insurance. I just get whatever my travel agent (who is a very awesome lady) recommends and that's that.

Lately I've been wondering about that though. Am I getting a good deal? Should I be shopping around? And maybe I should.

There are websites that let you compare travel insurance rates. Two I've seen mentioned in various places online are
For my next trip I will definitely comparison shop to see what kind of deals are out there.

The one thing I am sure of, is that getting travel insurance when you're traveling with kids (or without) is majorly important. If your child comes down with anything like an ear infection, croup, a bad stomach bug, if they break their arm or something else happens (I'm sure all parents can easily imagine many horror scenarios), you could end up having to pay expensive bills for a doctor, medicine, and even a hospital stay.

It's very important not just to get travel insurance, but to check what the policy covers:
  • Medical costs - The obvious. Don't travel without being covered for these expenses.
  • Flight delays and cancellations - We all saw what happened to people who got stuck all over the world when that Icelandic volcano erupted. Different policies will have different levels of coverage depending on why flights are delayed or cancelled. If you're traveling with kids, it might be prudent to get a policy that covers things like hotel rooms and food.
  • If you need to cancel a flight - What are the rules if you need to cancel your travel plans? Are you covered only if you yourself get sick, or if a family member gets sick?
  • Emergency evacuation - In case of natural disasters. This can be very costly if you are not covered by your travel insurance.
  • Lost or delayed luggage - (My big nightmare.) The airline will cover some expenses, but not everything.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you're traveling, regardless of where you go or how long you're staying there. I sometimes grudge the money I spend on travel insurance, but in the end, I know it provides peace of mind and can seriously help soften the financial blow if something were to happen to me or my children.

To read more about why travel insurance is so important, read this great  article, by Eileen Ogintz at TakingTheKids.com.

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