By Sally French | NerdWallet.com
A Disney vacation can be a trip of a lifetime. It can also be the most expensive trip of your lifetime.
For many, buying travel insurance should be just as essential as buying a churro as you cruise down Main Street. After all, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. But that’s not the only reason you might cancel. Maybe you booked a vacation but later lost your job; you might want to delay until you regain a stable income stream. Maybe your kid breaks his leg and you want to rebook when it’s healed.
Trip insurance can be purchased from a dedicated travel insurance company, or you might already have it by holding certain credit cards. Otherwise, you might buy it directly from Disney, which offers insurance as an add-on for vacation packages at its U.S. theme parks.
Is Disney travel insurance worth it, or are there better deals out there?
What Disney travel insurance covers
If you’re heading to Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California and you’ve booked a vacation package (meaning a hotel and theme park tickets), you’re eligible to purchase Disney’s Travel Protection Plan. Underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, it’s available for purchase by U.S. residents and U.S. citizens living abroad who book through Disney’s website.
Exact coverage and benefit availability vary based on where you live, but it typically includes:
- Trip cancellation or interruption: Reimburses prepaid travel up to your total trip cost for covered reasons including illness, injury, job loss or military service.
- Trip delay: Reimburses eligible expenses of up to $200 per day ($600 per trip).
- Baggage loss: Reimburses up to $2,000 for lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
- Bag delay: Reimburses purchases of necessary items if your bags are delayed 12 or more hours.
- Emergency medical expenses: Provides up to $25,000 of coverage if you get ill or injured while traveling.
- Rental car damage: Reimburses repair costs up to $25,000 in the event of collision, theft, damage or vandalism.
How much is Disney travel insurance?
While Disney doesn’t outright state its prices, a NerdWallet analysis of several travel packages found that it costs a flat rate of $82.50 per adult and $6 per child.
Flat-rate travel insurance can be good for ultra-expensive trips, but a bad deal for budget trips.
Take a seven-night stay during the week of Christmas 2022 for a family of four (two adults and two children) at Disney’s opulent Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Book it alongside six-day theme park tickets with all the add-ons — like water park admission — and you’d pay about $12,000. Adding on travel insurance would cost $177, which is 1.4% of your overall cost.
But say you instead planned a trip at the end of September when the kids are back at school. Two adults could stay at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort with basic, two-day tickets for just $850. Adding Disney’s insurance would increase your package cost to over $1,000, which is an overall price increase of nearly 20%.
Travel insurance that nets out to just 1.4% of your overall trip cost is a deal, but 20% is far from it. After all, most travel insurance costs between 4% to 8% of the total trip, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.
Reasons to get Disney travel insurance
Flat-rate travel insurance, as Disney offers, is pretty rare. Most policies are priced based on factors including the length of your trip, your destination and the age of the policyholder.
Here’s why it might make a good deal:
Flat-rate pricing is better for more expensive trips: If a costly trip is going to result in equally costly travel insurance, opting for flat-rate pricing is smart. And it’s not just a fancy hotel and Disney theme park tickets with all the add-ons like front-of-the–line passes. Factor in other nonrefundable trip elements, such as airfare and pre-paid rental cars. If you’re flying first class, or you’re a victim to rising rental car prices, then flat rate insurance is especially appealing.
You’re an older adult: Travel insurance costs are based on risk, and insurance is more expensive for older travelers, who are more likely to experience health problems, according to Allianz Travel Insurance.
Because Disney’s only age differentiator is child versus adult, its plan might be cheaper for older adults versus going with an independent insurer.
Many other policies won’t cover theme park tickets: Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney has required travelers to make advance reservations to enter its U.S. theme parks. The days of buying tickets first thing in the morning are gone. For popular days, you’ll often have to reserve your tickets months in advance. But while most policies cover cruises, airfare, lodging and tours, it’s tough to find policies that cover theme park tickets.
Because of the high cost of Disney tickets (and the fact that most Disney tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable), you likely want to be covered for those too.
Reasons to skip Disney travel insurance
But most people would be better off skipping Disney insurance. Here are a few reasons why:
Maximum coverage is relatively low: Disney’s insurance will pay out a maximum of $25,000 in the event of accidental death and dismemberment, while it’s common to find coverage of up to $500,000 elsewhere.
Similarly, Disney’s policy covers up to $2,000 for lost baggage. That might be insufficient if you’ve packed a fancy camera. With other insurance policies, coverage of at least $3,000 is common.
And Disney’s rental car coverage only reimburses repair costs of up to $25,000. Especially given rising car prices, that might not be enough for serious accidents.
Coverage is limited: Actually getting reimbursed with your Disney travel insurance can be tricky. Covered events are restricted to narrow situations, including injury, a family member’s death or jury duty. Plus, you must provide proof, like a court order or death certificate. Disney’s insurance also won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
You don’t want to book a Disney hotel: Disney’s insurance is only available to travelers staying at one of Disney’s own (expensive) resorts. If you’re going to Disney World on the cheap, staying off-property is almost always cheaper. Don’t let eligibility to purchase Disney insurance persuade you to book a Disney resort that’s outside of your ideal budget.
Better alternatives to Disney travel insurance
Before your Disney trip, compare travel insurance quotes from multiple providers. And don’t overlook these other types of travel insurance:
Cancel For Any Reason coverage
Perhaps an uptick in COVID-19 cases has you considering travel. Or maybe an injury is preventing you from travel, but you don’t have a doctor’s note to prove it. Given the limited number of reasons that qualify for coverage, you might be better off with “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage, which covers you no matter why you cancel.
Look to your credit card
Some credit cards offer travel insurance as a benefit, as long as you purchased the trip on that card. Given the high cost of travel insurance, this benefit alone can often be worth the often-high annual fees these cards charge.
Check with your bank to see what’s covered. For example, the insurance offered via many Chase credit cards explicitly won’t cover theme park tickets.
When is Disney travel insurance worth it?
Given the uncertainty of travel these days, even a quick weekend getaway should have some degree of insurance. But you might not need to pay for Disney’s travel insurance.
As long as you’re OK with your theme park tickets not being insured, the travel insurance offered through many credit cards is likely a better bet, and might not cost you anything once you hold the card. If you really want to ensure coverage, paying for a Cancel For Any Reason might be even better.
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Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SAFmedia.