Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Think Twice Before Bringing Your Kids Friends on A Vacation

As parents we like to splurge once in a while and allow the kids to bring a friend on vacation with us.  While this is usually not a problem for a small vacation  such as camping or traveling by car to a resort area, when you are booking a vacation far in advance and are purchasing plane tickets, think twice before inviting friends - things can go wrong before you leave that can cost you money.

We've received last minute phone calls that the kids had a fight and the friend is no longer going. We've been told that the friend waited too long to apply for a passport and there were issues resulting in a passport denial.  We've seen instances where the friends parents were going to pay for the friends share of the vacation and never came up with the money.  And guess who ends up paying in these instances? The parent who purchased the trip.

What to do in  circumstances like this? First, the right travel insurance policy can help.  For all of the instances above, a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy is the only way to protect your investment, yet these policies can cost twice as much as a policy that offers cancellation for covered reasons, such as illness, death in the family, etc.  In most cases, the cost of these policies is the number one reason many people will not book a Cancel for Any Reason policy.  And some Cancel For Any Reason policies do not cover 100% of the amount you paid if you have to cancel for a non-covered reason. You may only receive 50 - 80% of your money back.

Here is an example in the difference in price between a CFAR and a  policy that covers cancellation  for illness, death in family, etc.  For four people, one adult and 3 kids for a $5300 trip, a CFAR policy would cost $568.  A standard policy that offers free insurance for kids under 17 with paying adults would cost $156, and a policy with more coverage would cost $186.  With more than a $400 price difference - which would you choose?  Would you think that you might have to cancel for a reason other than an emergency cancellation for illness or a death in the family?

If you are going to take a friend, we highly recommend having an agreement   (which you might want to have written ) in place with the child's parents indicating who will pay in the event that the friend cannot go once booked if travel insurance doesn't cover the reason for canceling. Discussing and having an agreement before booking might save you a lot of money later down the road.

And finally, if flying to a foreign country, make sure the child has a passport before you book his or her ticket.  This is true of anyone who may not have a passport and wants to travel outside the U.S. There are many things that can happen where a passport might not be issued - child custody issues, not having the parents appear in person to apply for the passport, or even name issues where the birth name is not the same as the name the child (or adult)  uses.  Flights must be booked in the names as they appear on a passport and can't be changed once tickets are issued. For families that travel frequently, ensuring that your documentation is correct is second nature but when taking someone who has never traveled internationally, that family may not know everything entailed in obtaining passports. 

So be great parents and let your kids bring a friend - but make sure you protect yourself first.  Call us and we'll help protect you! 516-608-0568.

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