Just like with most any important purchase, a little research can go a long way. And that includes taking a little bit of time to learn about the different choices you'll find when it comes to travel insurance.
Guests traveling to Disney World that are interested in travel insurance will have 2 main options: purchasing a travel plan through Disney OR purchasing insurance through an independent provider.
There are some definite pros and cons to both, so we're going to try to break it down for you so that you can get an idea of what to expect.
Disney's Travel Protection Plan vs Travel Insured
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We've talked before about some of the things you should consider before purchasing travel insurance.
And, our first suggestion is always to ask yourself: "What is my reason for buying insurance?"
Are you worried about your trip being interrupted?
Are you concerned about hurricanes or having your bags lost or maybe you want to be prepared with emergency medical protection?
Figure out what your main concerns are, and then you'll want to zero in on a policy that covers your main worries for a price that fits your budget.
Insurance doesn't cover fears
Unfortunately, insurance polices don't cover the cancellation of a trip over fear - even when the fear is totally justified.
That is why before you select any insurance you need to understand exactly what your coverage will and will not cover.
Pore over the specific requirements for pre-existing conditions.
Understand what "Cancel for Any Reason" and "Trip Interruption" really means for your policy.
Never, ever, EVER assume that all components (flights, resort room, park tickets, party tickets, etc.) of your vacation are covered.
Insurance can be a great way to protect your travel investment, but it isn't helpful to assume that things will be covered when they really aren't.
There are a tons of different insurance companies out there and it is impossible for us to speak to each one individually.
But, while we can't go policy-by-policy on exactly what you get, we can give our first-hand experiences with 2 that we (and the agents over at Perfect Story Travel) have used extensively: Disney's Travel Protection Plan and Travel Insured.
Here's some things to know about each.
Disney's Travel Protection Plan
Disney's Travel Protection Plan is the insurance policy that Disney offers to guests purchasing Walt Disney World vacation packages.
Much like auto and life insurance, one of the factors that goes into the pricing of insurance is age.
And, for people ages 70 and over, they'll often find that Disney's Travel Protection Plan will give them the best value.
So, if you are considering adding insurance to a trip and you have somebody in your room who is 70+, you'll probably want to give Disney's insurance a second look.
Another nice thing to know about Disney's insurance is that it is easy to purchase since it is an option when you book a vacation. And if you prefer to wait, you can easily add it all the way up until your final payment.
That means you can hold off on purchasing it until later, which is something we recommend you do if you don't have a pre-existing condition (more on that below).
If you are familiar at all with Disney technology, you'll know that it can be a little, well, glitchy.
And those glitches always happen at the most frustrating times, like when a new promotion or discount drops and you want to modify your reservation to save some money.
One of the common reasons for guests not being able to modify a reservation online (and them being forced to call and possibly wait on hold for extended periods of time) is having an extra component, like Memory Maker or travel insurance, attached to the package.
That is why we typically recommend people don't add Memory Maker until the final weeks before their trip, and unless you have a pre-existing condition, you don't add the travel insurance until closer to your final payment.
Another significant con to consider is that you can't use Disney's Travel Protection for Room Only reservations. It can only be added to packages.
And, it typically isn't going to cover extra components (like party tickets).
That's a huge deal for lots of families that opt to book their rooms separate from their tickets.
Travel Insured travel insurance sells travel insurance policies you purchase either yourself or through your travel agent.
One of the reasons we love Travel Insured is because, in general, the coverage you get will cost less and typically cover more than what you get with Disney's policy.
For example, with Disney's policy you pay per person, including paying a small premium for babies.
With Travel Insured, however, for each adult that you pay for, with most of their plans you'll get one child free.
But probably our favorite thing about Travel Insured is that they offer a plan that is specifically designed for people taking a theme park vacation.
Unfortunately, this plan is only available for purchase through a travel agent, but we have found it to be a great value when compared to other plans we've seen.
This special amusement park policy covers a portion (up to the policy maximum) of lots of other things that Disney's policy does not - like After Hours or other party tickets, stroller rentals, etc.
Disney is known for amazing customer service, and in the event that you have to cancel a trip lots of people have luck getting those expenses refunded - but the truth is they technically are non-refundable and you can't count on Disney always being willing to return your money.
So if you are working with an agent and considering travel insurance, this is a good policy to check out.
The major con with Travel Insured is that our favorite policy for most Disney World vacationers can only be purchased through a travel agent.
This is frustrating to all of us Type-A planners that like to book everything ourselves.
And, probably the second biggest negative is that buying through any 3rd party company (Travel Insured included) isn't as convenient as just clicking the box to add insurance when buying a policy from Disney.
People don't always have the time or energy to seek out anything better than what Disney provides - which we totally get.
Final thoughts on travel insurance
In light of recent events, it is important to understand just exactly why you need insurance as it is to understand what that insurance will cover.
We 100% understand how for some people, the ease to purchase Disney's insurance outweighs the time and energy you might have to put into researching an alternative.
But, if your goal is to get the most bang for your buck we definitely encourage you to do some research on your own.
The company listed above is a great start, but if you'd like to explore more options, websites like InsureMyTrip.com is a fantastic resource.
Hopefully you'll never need to use travel insurance, but if you do, we think it is important that you get the best policy possible at the best price you can.