Travel insurance is a pretty constant debate amongst vacationers.
Honestly, the questions and frustrations are pretty valid. Sure, it's not all that expensive, but is it really necessary? Aren't they just nickel-and-diming us on an already expensive vacation? Aren't they just playing off our fear? How likely is it that something will actually happen?
All of these are pretty legitimate concerns. I know I have them.
It's hard to spend money on travel insurance.
You're basically paying money for something you don't want to happen. If you don't end up needing the insurance, the money feels wasted. If you have to use the insurance, it means something went wrong. It feels like a lose-lose.
It also makes us feel like we're not in control. I've definitely heard people say, "I'm an expert skier, so why would I need travel insurance?" The simple answer: "It has nothing to do with you."
The world is unpredictable.
With a ski vacation, the biggest factor is the weather.
Snow's necessary for skiing, but it also cancels flights. During ski season, flights to ski destinations are notoriously overbooked. If your flight gets cancelled, you and your family might not get on a plane for another 3 days. Without insurance, that's not just 3 days of your life wasted, it's also 3 days of prepaid expenses down the drain.
Weather is incredibly unpredictable.
In 2017, the famous Haute-Savoie area of the French Alps suffered extremely high temperatures and a massive drought. Some resorts had to close while others struggled to keep open a single run. It ruined a lot of vacations.
Closer to home, in Utah during the 2016-2017 season, a large number of resorts in the western US had to push back their opening dates due to lack of snow. This was followed by one of the best early seasons in almost 20 years. It's tough to plan in a region where one day it's 80° F and the next it's dumping 0.61 m of snow.
It's a tough situation. It's easier to just not think about it.
We don't want to admit that something could ruin our vacation, just as we don't want to admit we're not always in control.
We worked hard for this vacation and we don't want to even think about it going wrong. We just want to get there, enjoy our time in the mountains, and have tons of fun.
You should still get the insurance.
In the end, it doesn't matter that the conversation is uncomfortable. A ski vacation is more of a gamble than almost any other vacation because it is entirely subject to weather. You want it to snow as much as possible... as long as it's not a travel day.
All of this doesn't even factor in foreign vacations. Are you a US citizen going to ski the Alps? If you even so much as sprain your finger, your regular medical insurance probably doesn't cover you. Insurance sucks. You're paying for something you don't want to use. Just like car insurance or medical insurance, there's an element to it that just makes us uncomfortable. That said, you really do need it. For a couple hundred dollars, it could save your family's entire vacation.
When Buying Insurance
Actually purchasing travel insurance is a pretty simple process. Most travel insurance companies are fairly similar. If you have already have a preference, then go with it.
I do have one warning in purchasing: make sure your selected plan includes skiing.
Most travel insurance companies have multiple types of plans. On the surface, it usually looks like the difference is just the coverage amount. It can also be a difference in covered activities. Sometimes, the cheaper plans not only come with a smaller payout, but they also fail to cover a long list of "dangerous" activities, such as skiing.
When purchasing your plan, make sure you understand not only the payment amounts, but also the activities covered.