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My family and I recently went on an international trip to the Bahamas with 21 extended family members, aged two to 70. Many things could go wrong with international travel, especially with kids and a group that size.
My husband is what I like to call an "over-insured," and he always springs for the top policies regarding homeowners insurance, life insurance, and — you guessed it — travel insurance. That's why it was ironic that on our trek to the Bahamas, it was his bag (containing all of his clothing and toiletries, plus all of my toiletries and those of our two boys, ages three and five) that got lost for more than 24 hours.
Not only was he without all of his clothing, bathing suits, and even deodorant, the rest of us had no toiletries, medicine, makeup, and the like for just as long. But we realized that the travel insurance policy offered us some reimbursement if a bag was delayed more than 12 hours. So we were quickly able to replace most toiletries, some of his clothing, and even spring for a few upgrades — the only makeup store I could find on Paradise Island was a MAC Cosmetics store.
While I wouldn't normally spring for travel insurance, since it was a large family trip and the first time we took our boys out of the country, we thought it would be a smart move. And we were right.
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We purchased the AIG Travel Guard policy for $178. The seven-day policy covered everything from evacuation to lost or delayed baggage to medical coverage. It even included 100% reimbursement should our trip be canceled and a $1,000 per person benefit for a missed flight connection.
This particular policy, as many do, also covered the big things — e.g., accidental death or dismemberment, personal security assistance, and identity theft protection. Thankfully, we didn't have to use any of those benefits, but it was nice just knowing they were there.
We only had to make use of the delayed baggage portion of our travel insurance. That meant we were entitled to up to $300 per person if a bag was delayed at least 12 hours, and more if the bag was delayed for longer.
We ended up spending just under $700, but were able to replace most of our lost toiletries, some for our younger son, and a few clothing items and one swimsuit for my husband. I was also without makeup, so I went to the hotel's on-site MAC store and bought a few products for myself, which were actually nicer than the makeup items I already owned.
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There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to travel insurance. First, reimbursement is still in the works for much of what our travel insurance policy covered, so we're technically still waiting on those funds, in addition to the premium we paid for the actual policy. But knowing that we didn't have to shell out a bunch of cash to cover an airline's mistake made fronting the cash an easier pill to swallow.
Second, traveling out of the country with kids is never completely stress-free. But knowing how easily your child can fall in a pool or at a restaurant and require medical attention, I was able to relax a bit more on this trip knowing most medical expenses we might encounter would be covered.
While opting for travel insurance may not be the first thing you think of when planning your next tropical escape, it's worth considering — especially if you're traveling internationally or with children. I know in our case, it paid for itself three-fold. Plus, you can put a price on the peace of mind it bought — though next time, we may carry on our bags.