Recognising that travelling abroad with children can be challenging, Allianz Worldwide Partners New Zealand has compiled helpful travel advice in a bid to help families avoid common mishaps and enjoy their next holiday.
Dependent children are generally covered under their parents’ travel insurance policies which usually includes medical treatment, emergency repatriation, missed connections and personal baggage losses. The policy benefits are shared between the parent(s) paying the premium and the dependent children, up to the maximum limits outlined in the specific policy wording.
Pitfalls of travelling with kids
Will Ashcroft, Allianz Worldwide Partners New Zealand Chief Sales Officer says falling ill, closely followed by accidents, are the most common reasons for claims made by families with young children.
“We receive claims every year relating to children who fall ill overseas – typically cold and flu, stomach related issues or ear infections. We recommend you don’t clean your teeth with tap water, do sterilise bottles extensively, and know where your nearest medical centre is, in case you need assistance,” says Ashcroft.
Family travel without insurance can prove very costly. Ashcroft explains, “In addition to the expense of any necessary medical treatment, you also need to factor in costs for activities that you may have to cancel, additional accommodation and fees for changing flights.”
Allianz Global Assistance recently received a claim resulting from an ear infection that grounded a family for a week in Fiji. Ashcroft elaborates, “Medical information indicated the child was unable to fly as they were in danger of bursting an eardrum, adding an extra $8,000 to their accommodation bill, which was covered by their travel insurance. The ear infection was a result of the child using the hotel pool.”
Accidents are another item Ashcroft regularly sees occurring – falling in and around swimming pools as a result of running or over-excited playing. He states, “A simple broken arm may cost upwards of $10,000 just for treatment at a hospital in the US.”
Serious illness can also strike while overseas. Last year Allianz Global Assistance received a claim due to suspected meningitis in Europe. “A young child was exhibiting symptoms including an extreme temperature, aches and full body rash, that a doctor suspected as possible meningitis. The child required seven days in hospital and $13,000 in medical costs, before receiving the all clear,” explains Ashcroft.
Checklist to help make family holidays easier and safer
Three months out, or when booking:
- Ask your doctor whether your family needs any specific vaccines for your planned holiday destination, and monitor your kids to ensure they don’t fall sick before travelling.
- Look out for any fun and useful travel accessories, such as ride on suitcases or airplane cushions that bridge the gap between the seat in front of you, giving you a small single bed for your little ones to lie flat on.
- Work out if you need to purchase any specific clothing beforehand, e.g. long sleeves to protect against mosquitos.
- Organise identity bracelets (and medical alert bracelets if required).
- Purchase travel insurance and read the policy wording carefully – Allianz Global Assistance policies cover dependant children or grandchildren at no additional charge when travelling with an insured parent or legal guardian. The policy benefits are shared according to the insured traveller’s policy limits.
Two weeks beforehand:
- Locate important information for your travel destination such as medical services, emergency phone numbers and supermarkets to buy essentials such as nappies. Save these (and share with your partner) so you both have easy access via your smartphones.
- Load your iPad with apps that will keep children entertained while in transit.
- Register your travel plans at safetravel.govt.nz.
- Make photocopies of your passports to take with you.
The day before:
- Double check your baggage allowance, including the allowance for any connecting flights on budget airlines. Weigh your luggage if you think you might be over, as there’s nothing worse than being surprised with a baggage charge before you even depart.
- If you are flying long-haul, you might like to bring a couple of treats for attendants and fellow travellers seated next to you, to start the journey on a positive note.
The day of:
- Some flights allow you to take fresh and dried food on flights (such as sandwiches, bananas, raisins and crackers), and liquids as long as they don’t exceed 100ml per container. If you’re allowed to take these with you, pack lots of healthy snacks including fruit, as this will keep hunger at bay. To avoid breaking any biosecurity laws, don’t forget to discard any uneaten fresh snacks at the end of the flight or declare them before you go through customs.
- Leave plenty of time to get to the airport, and through customs – even if they have special lanes for families, it may take longer than you expect to clear customs with your kids.