|Insurance can protect a family’s vacation investment if someone is injured or gets sick on the trip. Pictured: Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine, FL.|
Getting ready for an overseas trip with the entire family is no small achievement. There are clothes to wash, bags to pack, video games and puzzles to bring, cameras to grab, and oh yes, insurance to buy. Some folks may think it’s important to buy insurance for grandma, but not particularly for active young families in good health. Amber Blecker, owner of a CruiseOne agency in Aurora, CO, says she frequently sells trip insurance to families. “I remind them that it allows everyone to cancel or interrupt their trip, if one family member has a problem,” says Blecker. “Since anything can happen to anyone at any time, such as a child breaking a leg the day before they’re due to leave, it’s not just about covering older individuals who they think are more likely to have an issue.” Selling trip insurance to families is an especially important transaction for home-based agents, whose livelihood depends not only on satisfied customers, but on their referrals as well. If you let mom and dad say “no” to this and something goes wrong, chances are they may only remember that the trip you sold them went sour, not that you tried to insure them in the first place.
Policy choices that cover traveling families are diverse. For example, some insurers provide free coverage for kids traveling with their families. Allianz Travel Insurance’s Classic Plan covers children under the age of 17 free of charge when they’re accompanying parents or grandparents. This plan allows for medical and dental coverage and, as long as the primary policy holder is available and can present the insurance cards, travel companions will be covered.
Isaac Cymrot, vice president of sales and industry relations, Travel Insured International, says his firm offers extended families a Worldwide Trip Protector Program. “It has all the protection benefits that a family would look for in an insurance program while traveling abroad, plus kids under the age of 18 are free,” says Cymrot. Kids must travel with and be listed on the same enrollment with a related adult paying for the same coverage.
Scott Ackerman, vice president, retail sales, Travel Guard, tells agents that his firm has multiple options and Travel Guard’s Gold Plan covers children 17 and under at no additional cost. If your insurer has such coverage, point this perk out to parents, who may be more apt to buy travel insurance if their kids will be covered.
Other suppliers have different approaches to assist families. Carlos Cividanes, executive vice president of industry relations, TravelSafe Insurance, notes, “We consider them [kids and other family members] to be traveling companions and allow each one to take the best product for their individual needs.”
Many agents serve clients who are adult family members, such as an adult mother traveling with an adult daughter, or two siblings traveling together. Travel Insured allows two adult family members traveling abroad together to be covered on the same policy, according to Cymrot.
TravelSafe’s Cividanes says his firm allows up to nine people on a single enrollment and would not require family members or even traveling companions that reside at different addresses to purchase separate enrollments unless “different products are being purchased or more than one form of payment needs to be used.”
Family members traveling together can be on the same Travel Guard policy if they reside in the same state. “If family members reside in different states, they can all still purchase a Travel Guard Gold Plan,” Ackerman says, but every state should be listed on each plan so clients get the correct description of coverage.
“I’ve never had a problem with an entire family being covered, so long as they take all kinds of insurance,” says Blecker. Her agency’s in-house policy with Travel Guard covers traveling companions, traveling family and non-traveling immediate family members for medical cancellations and interruptions.
“The definition of family member comes into play in a number of situations as it relates to travel insurance,” notes Ackerman. “First, as it relates to needing to cancel due to a family member being sick or injured and requiring the traveler to cancel their trip.” His firm’s definition of a family member is quite broad; it includes a spouse, domestic partner, child, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother, sister, mother, father, grandparents, caregiver, foster child, legal ward, and many other family members.
Again, policies vary, so check on the specifics. “In general we cover all manner of ‘step’ relations, as well as in-laws, common law marriages, adoptions and same-sex companions in addition to direct family such as aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews,” says Cividanes. While the firm does not cover cousins or great grandparents, if parents or grandparents are in the traveling group the great grandparents would be covered through their relationship to the parents and grandparents.
Liberally ask questions of suppliers. Would the person buying insurance be covered should a family member at home such as a sibling or elderly parent become hospitalized or die? Many insurers, although not TravelSafe for one, require the traveler to have qualified for or purchased pre-existing condition coverage to be able to receive benefits for an unexpected end of their vacation due to an issue with the non-traveling family member’s pre-existing condition.
Travelers should examine coverage they are considering and be sure their purchase preserves eligibility to waive the pre-existing condition exclusion, says Cymrot. Travel Insured’s clients with Worldwide Trip Protector are covered for pre-existing medical conditions provided they purchase their policy within 21 days of their initial trip deposit, it covers the full nonrefundable trip cost, the client is medically fit to travel when they purchase their policy, and this is the first booking for the same itinerary.