Tuesday Disney Tips: To Insure or Not to Insure?

Choosing whether or not to buy trip insurance is one of the things to consider when planning your Walt Disney World vacation. Here at the Affordable Mouse it is paramount to us that we try to give our readers the best possible advice. We really want everyone to have the most magical experience possible when on your Disney vacation. We also try to heed our own advice when traveling ourselves. To me, affordable means the smartest use of, while requiring the least amount of, my Disney vacation money. So, it is not normally my practice to use money on any extras, like insurance, that would keep me from buying a momento for a family member or a gift for a friend while there. This year is a little different.

In all the years my family and I have been traveling to Walt Disney World, we have never purchased the vacation insurance with our reservation. Maybe we were tempting fate, but we all knew that it would have to be something fierce to keep us from making our annual trip to “The World.” We rested on the assurance of faith, combined with good planning and staying healthy. Plus, we have usually traveled at the end of November and we had been lucky in the past so what should change? Still, there is always a feeling in the pit of my stomach as we are driving from Texas to Florida that IF our van breaks down, we could arrive a day or two late, and the thought of that keeps tugging at me until we arrive there safe and sound.

For the first time, I will be purchasing trip insurance for my upcoming trip to WDW this September. For some travelers, this may seem like a waste of money, but I will spend that extra $59 gladly. What I am buying is peace of mind. I consider it to be a wise investment without any doubt for two simple reasons:

I am traveling during hurricane season, and

  1. I am traveling without my family

Hurricane season

Traveling to Florida during hurricane season does involve some risk. There is nothing less predictable than the weather. Of the official hurricane season (June 1 – November 30), the early part of the season is usually mild but hurricane activity begins to pick up by mid-August; and the peak part of the season is usually September. If you are traveling during hurricane season, you may want to consider that when deciding whether or not you will purchase trip insurance.

I am hit with a double-whammy because I am not only visiting a hurricane-prone area, I also live in one. This means that I could be under the threat of a storm at home, evacuated at any time, under threat of a storm while in Florida, unable to fly due to wind conditions at the departure or arrival points, etc.

Peak hurricane season in Florida is roughly the months of August and September. Peak hurricane season for Galveston, Texas is the same. For the United States, September has had more major hurricanes than all other months combined; and most major October hurricanes occur in southern Florida. This is the time I will be traveling; and having been born and raised here, I would never underestimate the potential of hurricanes to create major problems even in an inland location like Orlando. If you have not been through one, you don’t want to start now, and certainly not on your much deserved and anticipated family vacation.

Please know that I am not trying to dissuade you from visiting Walt Disney World during this time, as it is a wonderful time of the year to be there. I am just saying that if a threat is eminent, you want to be able to postpone or change your plans accordingly without losing your hard-earned money. Although, Disney’s resorts have weathered the hurricanes very well, guests have been stuck in their rooms for up to 36 hours and many had major travel problems because airports were closed. Disney does try to be flexible with their guests in situations such as these, but they cannot encompass all dates of travel and all circumstances. Airlines sometimes work with customers but I would not trust them to accommodate me.

Travelling without family

The second reason I decided to purchase trip insurance is that I will be traveling without my family. I do not travel away from my family often and, usually, when I am on my way to Walt Disney World, we are all together. This will be the first time I have vacationed there without them and leaving them behind causes some amount of worry in my heart. If any emergency happens to anyone in my family while I am away, I NEED to get home to them right away. This is another reason I will purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which will cover me if I should have to cancel my vacation at the last minute, or come home early, due to an illness or injury with one of my immediate family members.

What types of things does insurance cover?

You may be wondering why you should buy insurance at all. There are several reasons for purchasing it. Different plans have different coverages so be sure to ask questions. Some of the items covered are:

  • Trip delays or cancellations – If you have to cancel at the last minute, Disney will refund your trip except for $200; the trip insurance will reimburse your $200 as long as the reason was covered in your chosen coverage.
  • Sickness or injury while on the trip – Emergency medical coverage and medical evacuation insurance are very important if you become ill or injured during the trip. I have heard of some instances where a family member fell ill enough that the doctor said they couldn’t fly the next day, so their flight had to be changed and the hotel stay extended.
  • Lost baggage coverage – delayed baggage insurance will help you pay for clothing if the airline temporarily loses your luggage and you need to purchase some in the meantime; supplemental baggage insurance will pay a certain amount if the airline loses your luggage completely.
  • If your flight is cancelled they will help you find a hotel and cover the expenses.
  • Electronic Devices – If your camera is broken in your luggage or your cell phone falls into the pool, both would be covered.

I asked my fellow Affordable Mouse writers if they had ever needed to use travel insurance and, in fact, there were several instances when it was extremely useful.

Where can I get insurance and what is the cost?

Walt Disney World has insurance options through Travel Guard which you can add to your trip up until your final payment is made. If you would like to call the company and ask them specific questions regarding your own possible circumstances, the phone number is 1-800-826-3899. Disney’s specific plan is product code 004258.

The coverage purchased through a Walt Disney agent is $66.95 per adult. Coverage of children 17 and under is included free of charge with coverage of a traveling adult. There are other plans you can purchase, some cheaper and some more expensive. If you are looking for the cheapest and best alternative for you, go to InsureMyTrip.com or Squaremouth.com. You can do a side-by-side comparison of many different policies from many different companies.

The one I have chosen for my trip costs $59 and I chose it because of the policy on flight refunds for inclement weather. Many of the other options in that price range were for refunds for flights IF the airport had a mandatory closure for 12 to 24 hours. Additionally, the Disney coverage is for flights purchased through the Walt Disney World site only and I purchased mine separately. The best advice I can give is to do your homework.

Buying insurance for your trip or not buying it is a personal decision. Weigh your options based on scenarios that could possibly happen in regards to your trip. Spending money on anything that would leave us less to use in the park or at the gift shop is always a hard sell, but you never know when you’ll need it. Talking to a travel agent is also a good idea when the time comes for you to make this decision. Chances are that nothing will happen during my trip or yours, and I certainly hope not; but I bet no one ever expect volcanic ash or swine flu either. If there are known conditions where you could need it though, as in my case, you may want to consider buying the insurance. The choice is certainly up to you!

Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.

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