Students heading for fun in the sun at spring break have a pretty good idea what they intend to do during that week away from their books. They’ve made all their arrangements, possibly with a little help from you (i.e., cash), and you have been sensitive enough not to intrude.
But before they go, you need to make sure they have also arranged for travel insurance. That may not have been their top priority, but it should be yours. If something unexpected happens—if they dive into a rock, fall off a hotel balcony, get hauled off to jail for getting involved in a fight that grew out of control, or if they end up in hospital after overindulging, you are going to have to get involved. Your kids will casually tell you “not to worry,” but that is impossible for parents to do.
And so it should be, because putting up bail, or paying a hospital $15,000 or $20,000 for a one-night stay with all the trimmings, is going to be your responsibility—unless you had the foresight to insist your son or daughter was covered for an unforeseen medical emergency.
Young people enjoying themselves with their peers comes as part of the territory in an exotic environment where self-restraint is often frowned upon, and drinking alcohol is as natural as spreading sunblock on one’s nose.
You also need to know, and emphasize to your young scholars, that travel insurance is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Sensible behaviour still prevails: insurers will not likely cover hospital or medical services resulting from alcohol misuse; reckless use of a moped, bike, or car; falling off a hotel balcony (you would be amazed how often this happens); and on and on. And their policies will emphasize that. So you and your children need to as well.
In addition, many spring break tour companies in the US market to Canadian students, and their all-inclusive packages have an insurance component. These plans may be adequate for sons and daughters of Americans whose health benefits are tailored to fit their existing private-employer-sponsored insurance, but they are grossly inadequate for Canadians whose government insurance covers so little out of Canada, and whose insurance plan benefits typically range between one and five million dollars.
Let your children (who are no longer children) have fun. They probably deserve it. But do what you have to do. Remember, as much as the insurance protects them, it protects you too. So do what’s right. You don’t even have to leave this site to make sure it gets done.