Should You Buy Family Travel Insurance for Your Next Trip?

Planning a family vacation is always exciting. Your mind is filled with the promise of exploring, unforgettable memories and family bonding experiences. But, if you’re like me, your mind is also filled with the anticipation of things going wrong in a new unfamiliar country where you might not speak the language. Travel is never 100% predictable, and when you’re planning the next trip for your family, it’s important not to overlook buying family travel insurance for your next vacation.

Family on a Mayan pyramid in Belize. Don't worry, we've got family travel insurance!

Do You Need Family Travel Insurance for Your Next Vacation?

Picture this: you’re halfway across the globe, eagerly exploring a cultural gem with your loved ones when suddenly, a medical emergency strikes, or your flight gets canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Or, your luggage doesn’t make it to your next destination. This is where travel insurance becomes your safety net, offering peace of mind and financial protection in the face of unexpected events.

For families, especially those traveling with young children or elderly members, preparing for things to go wrong (while expecting that they won’t) is simply smart.

Having a Plan B (and a Plan C) is something that is natural for some people, but keeps other people from venturing outside of their comfort zone. From medical emergencies to trip cancellations, travel insurance ensures that your family’s well-being and financial investment are safeguarded throughout your journey. It might give you the security and peace of mind to travel a bit farther and explore some places you might not have considered.

Benefits of Family Travel Insurance

  • Medical Coverage In the event of illness or injury during your travels, medical expenses can quickly escalate. Travel insurance provides coverage for emergency medical treatment, hospital stays, and evacuation if necessary.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Life is unpredictable, and plans can change unexpectedly. Travel insurance reimburses non-refundable expenses if you need to cancel or cut short your trip due to covered reasons such as illness, natural disasters, or job loss.
  • Baggage and Personal Belongings Losing luggage or having valuables stolen can put a damper on your vacation. With travel insurance, you can receive reimbursement for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage, ensuring minimal disruption to your family’s plans.
  • Emergency Assistance Services Travel insurance often includes 24/7 emergency assistance services, providing invaluable support in navigating unfamiliar healthcare systems, arranging medical transportation, or coordinating emergency evacuation.

Komodo island boat tour

So Many Travel Insurance Options

Many different travel companies and insurance companies offer family travel insurance at different price points. All the different options can be really confusing!

If you’re booking on a travel website like Expedia, they even have their own recommended insurance but it will only cover the flights and hotel you book through them.

And, if you’re booking your vacation through a tour company, that tour operator will strongly recommend you purchase their insurance. I (cynically) think it’s for the sole purpose of gaining kickbacks rather than wanting to protect you from shady tour operators or suppliers.

If you want complete coverage for your whole family, for the whole trip, you’ll want to find travel insurance that’s going to cover each part of your trip, and cover each member of your family.

CAUTION! If you get insurance through a travel website or a tour operator, you might not be covered if you book another service, like a day trip or go hiking the day before the tour starts.

Decisions, Decisions

Here’s how I decide whether to purchase family travel insurance:

I take an objective look at our hotels, flights, and tours. Reputable companies and safe locations are less risky for something to go awry.  Next, I consider pros and cons and ask myself a few logical questions:

  • How familiar am I with the destination?
  • How complex is the itinerary? (you can read this as: how many chances are there for things to go wrong?)
  • Is this location susceptible to natural disasters?
  • What is the cost of this trip?
  • Is it a Wonder of the World and built for tourism?
  • Is the destination risky for terrorist activity?
  • How likely is this airline/hotel/operator to file for bankruptcy?
  • Worst case scenario, and there’s a huge problem, do I think the airline or hotel will help?

I know airlines have a horrible reputation (and rightly so…  charging for pillows, checked bags, seat allocation… sorry, I digress) but I usually weigh all of these factors.

Should you purchase travel insurance for your next family trip? It may cover airline disruptions.
When Not to Purchase Travel Insurance

When taking a ‘vanilla milk’ holiday (a nice lovely break… something familiar, local, not exciting, not adventurous — just pleasant, predictable and delicious like vanilla milk!), I probably wouldn’t take out travel insurance.

While travel insurance offers peace of mind, there are some other reasons why you might choose not to purchase it:

  • Cost Concerns: Travel insurance adds an additional expense to the overall cost of the trip. If the insurance is half the cost of the trip, it’s probably not worth it, especially if you perceive the likelihood of encountering unforeseen events as low.
  • Existing Coverage: You might already have existing insurance policies that provide coverage for certain aspects of travel, such as health insurance with international coverage or credit cards offering trip cancellation/interruption protection. In such cases, you might feel that additional travel insurance is unnecessary duplication.
  • Perceived Low Risk: Families traveling to destinations with excellent healthcare systems, minimal travel disruptions, and low crime rates may feel that the likelihood of encountering significant issues during their trip is low.
  • Limited Coverage Needs: Depending on the nature of the trip and individual circumstances, you might feel that you have limited coverage needs. For example, if you’re taking a short domestic trip or staying with relatives is relatively straightforward travel.
  • Reliance on Personal Resources: Some families may have sufficient personal resources to cover unexpected expenses that may arise during travel, whether it’s medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost belongings. If you’re OK with replacing lost items or buying additional flights out of pocket, you’re good to go.
  • Credit Card Coverage: Paying with a major credit card for your vacation usually gives you 100% protection in the case of bankruptcy. However, ‘usually’ is the operative word here, and I’d still for a minimal cost, have that added protection.  A tour operator for a recent trip filed for bankruptcy, and we didn’t even need to use the insurance policy we had purchased. Our credit card refunded 100% of the cost since we paid for services we didn’t receive.

When Travel Insurance is Needed for Family Vacations

Complex travel, with a lot of stops, a lot of flights or connections, and travel to countries with limited civil infrastructure are all reasons to seriously consider travel insurance. Heading to a third-world country, especially with kids, and certain destinations in Asia, Africa or South America, you might need to expect the unexpected.

And when there are multiple moving parts in the itinerary, there’s a significantly higher probability things could go wrong – the more dependencies, the bigger the chain reaction.  When I’m considering insurance, I also factor in the total cost of the trip, and look at the travel providers: dodgy airlines, and sketchy tour guides (we seriously had a guide who stopped the car to pick fresh marijuana he saw growing on the side of the road). When things are risky and expensive, I usually can’t add the two or three hundred extra dollars for travel insurance to my trip fast enough!

The Best Family Travel Insurance Policies

Looking at different policies can be mind-numbing because they’re not apples-to-apples. You have to read each policy directly. I usually have Hot Hubby take a look when I can’t read the fine print any longer. For instance, let’s take a look at “trip delays”.

When your flight is delayed, travel insurance policies typically offer coverage options to help you deal with the inconvenience and additional expenses.

You need to decide what you want based on what you’ll do if that delay occurs. And, you’ll probably do different things on different trips, so one policy or provider isn’t always going to fit all of your travel needs. Here are a few typical “trip delay” coverage options available for flight delays across 5 different policies.

  • Trip Delay Coverage This coverage provides reimbursement for additional expenses incurred due to a covered delay, such as meals, accommodation, and transportation. The specific time threshold for triggering coverage varies among policies, but it typically ranges from 6 to 12 hours.
  • Missed Connection Coverage If your flight delay causes you to miss a connecting flight, missed connection coverage can reimburse you for additional transportation expenses to reach your destination, as well as any necessary accommodation expenses during the delay.
  • Travel Assistance Services Many travel insurance policies offer 24/7 travel assistance services to help you navigate flight delays and arrange alternative travel arrangements. This may include rebooking flights, arranging transportation, or providing guidance on accommodation options. Having someone you can call can be a HUGE bonus and make your life a lot easier.
  • Trip Interruption Coverage In some cases, a significant flight delay may result in the need to interrupt your trip and return home – maybe there’s only one flight a week. Trip interruption coverage can reimburse you for non-refundable trip expenses, such as unused accommodation or activities if you need to cut your trip short.
  • Coverage for Prepaid Expenses If you’ve prepaid for activities, tours, hotels, or other non-refundable expenses that you’re unable to use due to a flight delay, your travel insurance policy may offer coverage for these expenses, ensuring you’re not taking a financial loss for those missed opportunities.
  • Communication Expenses If you need to make alternate travel arrangements or communicate with airlines, hotels, or travel providers due to a flight delay, some policies may offer coverage for communication expenses, such as phone calls or internet usage.

How to Compare Family Travel Insurance Plans

When selecting a travel insurance plan for your family, it’s essential to consider several major factors:

  • Coverage Limits – Review the coverage limits for medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, baggage loss, and emergency assistance services to ensure they meet your family’s needs. This is where policies usually differed the most. Do you want $250 per person for a delayed flight or $750?
  • Pre-Existing Conditions – Some policies may exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. If anyone in your family has underlying health issues, look for a plan that offers coverage or a waiver for pre-existing conditions.
  • Additional Benefits – Evaluate the additional benefits offered by each plan, such as coverage for adventure activities, rental car protection, or identity theft assistance.
  • Cost vs. Value – While cost is a consideration, prioritize value and comprehensive coverage over the cheapest option. Assess the deductible, premium, and coverage inclusions to determine the best value for your family.

Risks and Insurance Industry Tricks

While travel insurance can offer invaluable protection, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and industry tricks:

  • Exclusions and Limitations – Carefully review the policy exclusions and limitations to understand what is and isn’t covered. Pay attention to specific exclusions related to pre-existing conditions, high-risk activities, or travel to certain regions. Sometimes terrorism isn’t covered, or a demonstration in the city center might be described an ‘act of war’ and your policy won’t cover that disruption.
  • Hidden Fees and Fine Print – Watch out for hidden fees, deductibles, and conditions buried in the fine print. Some policies may impose unexpected charges or require extensive documentation to process claims. This is key – review the insurance company’s claim requirements. They will describe how to file a claim in the policy or on their website, and usually the easier it is for you, the easier it is to work with that company.
  • Claim Denials – If you’re in a position where you need to file a claim, be diligent in providing accurate information when pulling the information together that you need. Save every receipt, every invoice, every ticket stub! Any discrepancies or omissions could lead to claim denials or delays in reimbursement.
  • Policy Comparison Tools – Utilize online comparison tools and reputable travel insurance providers to ensure transparency and reliability. Beware of misleading advertisements or overly aggressive sales tactics.

Family Travel Insurance Recommendations

Getting right to the answer you might have been looking for, there are a few good travel insurance comparison websites out there. For most family trips we use Squaremouth Insurance, who have a comparison engine right on their website.  You can search, compare, and purchase travel insurance from every major provider in the United States. We have found them to be extremely helpful and timely with claims, and I would highly recommend them.

Remember, keep your documents until you return home. Keep all of your receipts, and expenses, and keep a log of any communication with airlines or travel providers including the date and time you called and who you spoke to. We keep everything in an envelope that we pack next to our passports in our hand luggage or backpack. You’ll need all this paper as proof when filing a claim with your insurance provider.

So in a nutshell, my opinion on travel insurance is: do it for sure for the costly family adventure holidays, but it’s probably not worth the cost for ‘vanilla milk’ holidays and local vacations.

Do you have a favorite travel insurance provider?

Let me know in the comments below!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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