Christine A Howard

Why Travel Insurance is a Must for Special Needs Families

How many of you have a trip planned for this year?  I know that I do.  My family says I have two modes, on vacation mode and planning for vacation mode.  I love to travel, but most importantly I love to plan travel.  There is one thing that I never forget to include in my trip planning – travel insurance.

While travel insurance may not seem like the most exciting part of the planning experience, I would argue that it is probably the most essential part.  Planning our photo ops with Mickey is fun.  Planning for disaster, not so much.  None-the-less, it is essential that we plan for the unplanned.

Why is Travel Insurance Essential to Every Trip?

Why, because this is the part of the planning that allows you to really relax.  Let’s face it, people don’t get up in the morning and say, “Later today I will slip at the pool and break my leg.”  But, these things do happen all the time.

Leg Cast

Did you know that a lot of medical insurance companies will refuse to pay or pay at a much lower level if you are out of their network? Additionally, most insurance companies will not pay on any claim made outside of the country.  Any medical expenses that happen while abroad must be paid in full prior to leaving the country. This is where trip insurance can save your pocketbook and give you piece of mind.

Our Travel Insurance Story.

On our last vacation to Walt Disney World, we had a medical emergency just 5 short days prior to our arrival.  The Tuesday morning before our trip, my son came to me and said his stomach hurt, and he was bunched over in extreme pain.  I knew immediately what was happening, and my heart sank.

Emergency

Just three months earlier, he had had a bought with pancreatitis that landed him in the hospital for a week.  This looked just like that.  We jumped in the car, drove to the hospital, and confirmed the diagnosis.

As we were waiting for his hospital room to be ready, my son and I both knew what this could mean for our trip. The disappointment was clear on my son’s face.  The trip was going to be cancelled, and it would be his fault. No kiddo needs to sit in pain in a hospital room stressing over having to cancel a family vacation.

The worst part was that he knew this Disney trip was not an ordinary family trip.  This was a $20,000 family reunion.  We had 14 people coming together from across the country, none of which would have wanted to go without my son.

What he didn’t know was that we had purchased the travel insurance which covers trip interruption due to unforeseen medical emergencies.  It would even cover us having to reschedule everything.  What a relief!

But think if this attack of pancreatitis had happened while we were on vacation?  What then?  We would have still been completely covered, for our trip and for the medical costs. We ended up going on the trip with a very medically fragile young man.  Knowing that we were covered medically made going on the trip a possibility.

Legoland Orlando
My son and the Hulk Statue at Disney Springs.

What if I can’t Afford Travel Insurance?

Many people believe that they simply can’t afford the extra expense.  I am fully aware of how expensive a trip to Disney can be, and I too get tempted not to pay the extra for insurance.  However, I know full well what a relief having insurance can be, so now I just get creative.

Disney Gift Card

Did you know that Disney allows its visitors to pay for their trip with gift cards?  They do, which is awesome! This is how I find the money to pay for travel insurance.  I go to Sam’s Club, Costco or Target and purchase Disney gift cards at a 5 percent discount.  Then I apply the gift cards to my trip.

The 5 percent that I save, fully pays for the travel insurance.  That means that I can have the insurance without the added stress of additional costs.  With medically fragile children, I like knowing that we are covered for anything and everything. In our house, and maybe yours too, unforeseen medical problems are not as unforeseen as they are for typical families.


If you find yourself planning your next great adventure, make sure that your planning includes travel insurance.  It may just provide the piece of mind you need if the unforeseen happens to you.  Please know that I am not a travel agent, and I cannot provide specific insurance information.  In order for your insurance company to pay for any pre-existing medical conditions, you may need to get a waiver.  Your insurance agent can help you with such things, but please note that you only have a certain window after purchasing travel in order to purchase insurance.  If you are planning a trip, it may make good sense for you to contact a travel insurance agent to talk about what your family’s specific needs are prior to booking your travel.

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