Family Travel Insurance – Be a Smart Buyer


I am a ‘what-if’ kind of person. I’ve used this phrase to describe myself for years, even before I had kids. When I was single, I always made sure I had enough life insurance so that my parents or sister wouldn’t have to pay off the balance of my Toyota Tercel auto loan should I pass away.

My ‘what-if’ tendencies are even more pronounced now that I have kids. (The photo is of two of my kids watching planes at the airport in Boston, 2004.) Now, I worry about many more things; like about those drivers on the other side of the yellow line. You know the ones: they are motoring in the opposite direction, and at any moment could veer into my lane and cause all kinds of mayhem. Yep, I worry about them and am not embarrassed to tell you that whenever possible, I make a point of driving in the lane furthest away from that yellow line.

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I have the uncanny (maybe troubling?) ability to foresee danger in detail. For example, most moms will admonish their kids not to run with scissors. I, however, will embellish the warning, adding “because if you fall the sharp points might go into your eye socket and be stuck in your brain.” Egads! Does grossing out your kids by evoking images of horrible injuries count as child abuse?

So, it will surprise no one that I ponder about travel insurance. We’ve never bought any before, but thinking back on the three thousand dollars we spent (nearly a year ahead of our departure) on airfare to get our family of 5 to Germany last year – what if we couldn’t go because one of us got sick, or the house fell in a sink hole? We can’t afford to abandon that much money, and would certainly need it elsewhere.

You Can Get Protected
I recently came across an article on by Jodi Jill, the LA Disneyland Examiner reporter, about making your Disneyland vacation error proof. Item Number One is to get some travelers insurance because you may pay for your vacation months in advance, yet “life situations may be out of your control”. See what I mean?

Then, an online estimator showed that between $200 and $500 can cover the basics for a two week trip to Europe with a $10,000 budget for a family of 5 depending on the levels of coverage you buy, and stipulated you must purchase the insurance within 14 days of your first vacation payment. You can opt to cover only the things you’re afraid of, like trip cancellation or emergency medical care. I wonder what kind of proof the insurance company would require?

But how does one know how an insurance company rates or how to compare costs?

Shopping with Smarts
I came across, an online travel insurance broker that compares 250 insurance products, and was quoted in an April, 2009 Wall Street Journal article about covering Swine Flu cancellations. (No, there is no coverage for cancellation due to ‘fear’ of getting sick, unless you’ve purchased a policy and upgraded to a “cancel for any reason” level.) Squaremouth was also quoted in an April 2009 New York Times article about airline policies and practices about Swine Flu and insurance.

To learn more about travel insurance, see which has many helpful articles such as “How to buy travel insurance in 3 steps” and “How do I know my travel insurance company is reputable?” and “How to avoid using your travel insurance.”

There is also a March 2009 article by Sophie Butler in the about being careful not to buy travel insurance from your tour operator or airline. Consumer Reports agrees, adding a warning to not buy through a travel agency, and advising use of a third party insurance company, and identifying coverage you may already have through credit cards, homeowner and medical insurance.

With the economy in shambles, Carol Pucci reports in a March 2009 Seattle Times article, that many travel insurance companies already do cover trip cancellations due to layoffs. She includes a caution to read the fine print on any policy.

Then again, the travel insurance industry may be laughing all the way to the bank. Here is a New York Times article by John Tierney about superstitions and people who are convinced that the insurance they buy will keep bad things from happening.


I don’t know why I never looked into this before! It would relieve my worried mind quite a bit.

Sandy Nielsen


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