Are you wondering if you need travel insurance for a family vacation? As someone who has traveled a lot with kids, our family has had a variety of – let's call them interesting – experiences.
We have experienced canceled flights, lost luggage, sick kids, medical visits out of state (and in other countries,) hurricanes, and more. And that's before a pandemic!
Needless to say, travel is imperfect, and you never know what can happen! So, we have been more aware of buying travel insurance for a family vacation, especially in the last two years.
But travel insurance is overwhelming. And it's an extra expense that you may not end up using. So some people think it's not worth purchasing travel insurance for families.
Here's the thing when it comes to travel insurance for a family vacation. It is the “just in case” to protect your investment, belongings, finances, and family.
Especially when traveling on a multigenerational trip that includes travel for seniors, parents, and kids, travel insurance is really important. You will have a range of ages, any one of whom could need medical attention on your trip. Or if you are traveling during busier times of the year, like spring break or the holidays, it's just more common for things to go awry.
And, when you think of it that way, travel insurance for families is a no-brainer.
But, you DO have to do your research, read the fine print, and know what is covered. Depending on the type of vacation you are taking, you may need specific coverage. For example, if you are taking a bicycling trip in Ireland, you will want the best cycling travel insurance, as you want to make sure you are covered if your bike is stolen or you get hurt. But heading to a beach in Florida might require different insurance.
Some travel agents can help you buy insurance. But often if we book our own travel, we have to do this ourselves. And how to do this and which company to use can be confusing.
So, I asked an expert!
I am so honored to have this post include an interview with Matt Kepnes, travel expert, founder of the award-winning travel site Nomadic Matt, and one of the very best travel writers out there. Matt is an expert on all things travel, and he knows a lot about travel insurance.
So here are Matt's expertise and best tips for all you need to know about buying travel insurance for families.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosure. Cover photo credit: Canva.
Travel Insurance For Families: All You Need To Know
Thanks so much for being here, Matt. Let's start with the basics.
What is Travel Insurance?
MK: Travel insurance is a safety net that covers you should you get injured while traveling abroad. In addition to providing emergency medical coverage, travel insurance also covers you for things like lost or stolen luggage, delayed or canceled flights, natural disasters, political turmoil, and more.
In short, if something goes wrong while you’re traveling, travel insurance is what ensures you are protected and aren’t forced to cover the cost of an expensive unforeseen situation.
Over the years, I’ve used insurance when my eardrum burst while diving in Thailand, when my camera was broken in Italy, and when my luggage was stolen in South Africa. Each and every time, travel insurance made me whole again and covered the costs of my bills.
BVWK: I hadn't even thought about broken cameras! Boy, that alone is worth considering, given that we travel with cameras, electronics, computers, and so much in our carry-ons.
Why Should You Get Travel Insurance For A Family Trip?
MK: I never leave home without travel insurance. Having seen how expensive injuries can be without it (emergency evacuations, for example, can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per person), it makes sense to instead just spend a few dollars per day making sure you are protected if something unfortunate happens.
But even beyond the unlikely scenario of getting seriously injured abroad, travel insurance also covers delayed flights, canceled flights, damaged luggage, and theft — all of which are much more common than getting injured on the road (20% of flights are delayed, for example, meaning that costly missed connection is more likely than you think!).
With families in particular, travel insurance is a must. Children are curious and will no doubt get into all kinds of situations abroad — just like they would at home. Knowing that they are covered in case they get ill or injured provides peace of mind so you can focus on what matters: having an amazing travel experience with your family.
BVWK: Those are great points. We have had lost luggage, ruptured eardrums, sick kids, canceled flights, and even had to endure a hurricane a few times. And I know of people who have had medical emergencies outside of their home country. Things definitely happen on travel, just like the could at home, which makes travel insurance for a family vacation a great idea.
How Do You Know If you Need Travel Insurance For A Family Trip? Is it just for “adventurous trips”?
MK: If you’re traveling, you need insurance. While it is an added expense that will increase the cost of your trip (and it’s not a fun topic to research), it will save you from going bankrupt should the worst occur. That’s it. You always need it because you never know what might happen on the road. The past is not a prologue and we aren’t guaranteed a safe trip.
What Affects Travel Insurance Costs?
MK: The main deciding factors in the cost of an insurance plan are:
- The age of the travelers
- Where the travelers live
- How many travelers there are
- The duration of the trip
- The destination of the trip
Most travel insurance companies provide quotes online, so you’ll be able to input the above information to compare rates and see which plans best suit your budget and needs.
Can you get yearly travel insurance?
MK: Yep! While some insurance companies only offer monthly or per-trip plans, such as SafetyWing or World Nomads, many companies have annual plans that are perfect for long-term travel or for travelers planning multiple different trips in a year. Allianz, for example, has several annual plans that are incredibly affordable.
While they aren’t super comprehensive, they cover the basics so that, if something happens during your travels, you won’t go broke trying to pay for it.
BVWK: That is good to know. It may be cost-effective to get yearly travel insurance if we plan to take several trips in a year. And, in some cases, some insurance is better than no insurance.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover/Not Cover?
MK: Every plan is different, which is why it’s important to compare plans and read the fine print.
However, most comprehensive plans generally offer:
- Coverage for most countries in the world (including the places you plan on visiting).
- They offer coverage for injury and sudden illnesses.
- Coverage for lost, damaged, or stolen possessions.
- Some coverage for your electronics.
- 24/7 emergency assistance.
- Coverage for cancellations for hotels, flights, and other transportation bookings if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or other emergency.
- Coverage for political emergencies and natural disasters that cause you to head home early.
- Financial protection if any company you are using goes bankrupt
Conversely, most plans also don’t cover things like:
- Accidents sustained while intoxicated
- Participating in extreme sports/activities like paragliding or bungy jumping (unless those activities are explicitly covered in the plan),
- General medical check-ups (insurance is for emergencies only)
- Pre-existing conditions (unless otherwise stipulated)
Because every plan is different, it’s vital that you read over not just the plan’s brochure but the fine print too. I know it’s not very fun, but knowing the details will make all the difference when it comes to picking the best plan for you and your family.
BVWK: Absolutely! The fine print when considering travel insurance for families is really, really important. It is important to make sure you have adequate family protection.
We have been on trips when one of our kids has been sick and had to visit a doctor. Does family travel insurance cover if a family is ill?
MK: If you get sick while abroad and need to see a doctor, travel insurance will cover that. What it doesn’t cover is general check-ups or regular dental care.
In short, if it’s an emergency and you need medical assistance, you’ll be covered. But if you just want to see a doctor or get a general checkup, you’ll need to pay for that out of pocket.
BVWK: Had we had travel insurance, it would have saved us hundreds of dollars.
Does family travel insurance cover cancellation due to family illness? Does it cover lost baggage or trip interruptions?
MK: A comprehensive plan covers all of these and more — but not every plan is a comprehensive one. Some policies only cover medical issues, while others include gear and electronics. Some cover trip delays but not trip cancelation unless you pay extra.
In short, it all depends — that’s what makes buying travel insurance such a complicated topic. But as boring and complex as it is, it’s something no traveling family should overlook.
BVWK: I have twice lost my luggage and in both cases, it was in places where it was hard to replace items. Once was in Iceland, on New Year's Eve. Not only was the only open store in Reykjavik closing within an hour (so I had to rush and buy everything I needed for the trip, from swimsuits to snow gear in under an hour and pay expensive Icelandic prices.) But flights weren't coming in from where my luggage was sitting for a few days. I only got a couple of hundred dollars from the airline, to cover what amounted to over $1,000 in replacement items, so any insurance would have been beneficial to make up more of the difference.
The other time was in the Caribbean, also in the winter, and the plane with my luggage was delayed in the United States a few days due to an ice storm. Again, I was out of pocket hundreds of dollars when buying replacement clothes. So lesson learned, any insurance is better than no insurance, if not for luggage then to at least cover medical expenses should you need it.
What are some of the best travel insurance companies? What makes them the best?
MK: The best travel insurance company is the one that suits your needs. For example, if you’re a budget long-term traveler or digital nomad, a policy from SafetyWing covers all the basics without breaking the bank.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive (but more expensive) plan, World Nomads is the company for you. They have expanded coverage and insure travelers up to age 70. They also cover all kinds of extreme sports and adventurous outdoor activities.
And if you’re long-term travelers or ex-pats, IMG has policies for you.
To shop around and compare plans, use InsureMyTrip. They pull plans and policies from over twenty different companies so you can find the best coverage for you and your family.
BVWK: This is great information. I especially appreciate the option to compare plans!
When should someone book family travel insurance (when they book the trip or right before they leave, etc.?)
MK: You should book your insurance as soon as you’ve started booking your trip. For example, once you book your flights you’ll want to then book your insurance. That way, you’ll be covered from the get-go should something occur.
The best travel insurance companies include trip delay or cancelation too, so if your tour company cancels or something happens that requires you to change your plans (such as an injury before your trip or even a pandemic), you’ll be able to get your trip refunded and won’t lose out on all the money you’ve already spent on your vacation.
BVWK: This is definitely great advice. Over the last two years, we have had to change our plans so many times, thanks to uncertainty over the pandemic. This has definitely gotten me more committed to booking travel insurance for our family vacation every time as you just don't know when things may change.
Any tips for finding the best price for family travel insurance?
MK: Every company has different policies, and while the basics are usually similar, the devil is in the details. Compare plans to see what works best for your family’s needs and budget. The companies listed here are a good starting point.
While you can get quotes online from most insurance companies, don’t hesitate to call and follow up if you have questions — especially if you or someone in your family has pre-existing conditions or a complex medical history.
While travel insurance companies are there to help, they are also for-profit companies. Their job is to make money so always read the fine print and never hesitate to ask questions so you can be confident in the plan you choose.
BVWK: These are great tips. Thank you so much for giving us your expertise and tips for purchasing travel insurance for families, Matt!
Final Thoughts About Travel Insurance For A Family Vacation
When it comes to deciding if you need travel insurance for a family vacation, definitely think about protecting your investment, finances, belongings, and family. With so much uncertainty in travel right now, having travel insurance for families seems to be a great way to have peace of mind.
In fact, it is a worthwhile cost in your overall travel budget.
But, as Matt said, do your research and be sure to get appropriate coverage for what you might need. As each insurance company and policy is different, reading the fine print, comparing plans, and asking questions is critical when deciding on the best travel insurance for a family vacation. Regardless of where or when you travel, having travel insurance for a family trip is a great idea. Happy travels!
About Matt Kepnes
Matt Kepnes runs the award-winning travel site nomadicmatt.com, which helps people travel the world on a budget. He's the author of the NYT best-seller How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and the travel memoir Ten Years a Nomad. His writings and advice have been featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Lifehacker, Budget Travel, BBC, Time, and countless other publications. You can follow him on Instagram at @nomadicmatt. When he’s not on the road, he lives in Austin.