This is a topic I’ve addressed more than once on this blog. But it’s so important, I feel like doing it again. Today I saw a post on The Deal Mommy about her family’s scary experience in Gran Canaria, Spain I recommend you read it, but here is a short version: her husband suddenly felt sick and had to undergo surgery in a foreign country to the tune of 4,500 euro, which had to be paid upfront. The trip insurance which cost $38 should cover it, but more importantly, they didn’t have to agonize over the decision of whether to seek medical treatment or not. And now they can enjoy the rest of their trip with a father who is still alive.
I’ve written posts on benefits of medical insurance here and here The second post focuses on how I purchased a medical-only coverage for $10 on a 3-day trip to Jamaica and almost had to use it. Many times you can get away with a “bare bones” coverage, especially if your flights (or award ticket taxes) are paid for with a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred. Some products, Citi Prestige comes to mind, even provide medical evacuation.
However, for most expensive trips, I recommend a more comprehensive insurance. The cost will most likely be quite small compared to the overall amount. While a credit card may give you one or two important benefits, it’s unlikely it will provide all of them. For me personally, when I buy travel insurance, I focus on three areas: Medical coverage, evacuation and trip interruption. All other benefits are just the icing on the cake.
Let me give you an example. In a few months, we are going on Alaska cruise. I would never consider doing it without a travel insurance. Not only will it protect me in case we have to cancel, but we will have medical coverage for hospitalization in Canada and medical evacuation benefit if one of us has to be airlifted off the cruise ship.
Let me show a quote for 4 people: 2 adults and 2 kids. Total cost to insure is $4,000. The site I recommend is Insuremytrip, IMO the best one-stop resource. After you fill out all the details, select “comprehensive coverage” and sort the results by price:
Let’s compare five plans:
The cost is total for all 4 travelers, and limits are per person. If at all possible, I recommend you try to buy a plan with a primary medical coverage. That way, you won’t have to deal with your own health insurance in case something goes wrong. This is especially important if you happen to have a high deductible plan like I do. Personally, I like to have at least $50K in medical coverage per person, so would pick the most expensive option.
Medical evacuation limit on it also happens to be higher, but I think that $100K would suffice, so this wouldn’t influence my decision. There is one advantage to the cheapest plan: 60-day instead of 180-day lookback period when it comes to pre-existing conditions. If someone in your family has had medical problems in the past and you happen to buy past “waiver” time period, this is something to take into account.
Incidentally, “trip interruption” benefit on the more expensive pan is $1,500 per person compared to $1,000 on the cheaper one. Here is the definition in case you don’t know what I’m talking about. Basically, if your parent back home suddenly gets sick and you need to cut your trip short and fly back, this benefit will pay for it.
This is something a few premium credit cards will take care of, but it’s nice to have that extra layer of coverage. Personally, I believe it’s better to over-insure than to under-insure. Once again, we are talking about paying $100 to protect a $4,000 purchase and potentially your entire emergency fund in case things go very wrong .
When my parents come here to visit us, I always buy them a 1-million dollar health insurance coverage. It costs me around $140 for both each time, but I consider it money well spent. During our last trip, my mom got stung by a jelly fish and her leg started to swell. The swelling did subside and she was fine by the end of the day, but I had the peace of mind that we could take her to the emergency room if needed, and that we wouldn’t be on the hook for a $2,000 bill afterwards. When your loved one is sick, the last thing you want to think about is money. So take care of your trip insurance before the trip. Just do it.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.