Spring Break season is nearly upon us and as college students around the country are gearing up for the traditional booze-soaked time away from books and studies, we’re hoping that at least a few will find this article. Insuring your Spring Break trip might sounds like a very adult thing to do, but coming home with a huge medical bill you can’t pay is no fun.
See these tips before choosing your Spring Break destination and use our Free Quotes tool to see what it will cost to insure your trip so you can avoid unpleasant surprises.
1. Choose your Destination Carefully
With travel advisories warning against travel south of the border, you may want to choose a U.S. based destination this year. In 2013, the trashiest destinations for Spring Break according to Coedmazagine.com (based on past break factors including prevalence of tatoo parlors, liquor stores, and strip clubs as well as open container laws and late drinking establishment hours) were:
Las Vegas, Nevada
South Padre Island, Texas
Daytona Beach, Florida
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Lake Havasu, Arizona
Panama City Beach, Florida
Key West, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
In all of these places, the local law enforcement is aware of the timing of Spring Break and more than happy to implement regulations to keep spring break season from getting out of control. According to Panama City Beach law enforcement, the 2012 spring break season resulted in twice as many service calls as normal and during the first three weeks of spring break, more than 650 spring breakers were arrested. No doubt, for some cities Spring Break represents a significant bump in revenue.
Travel insurance plans often exclude coverage for trips to places where a travel advisory has been issued, so choose your destination carefully.
2. Be Very Aware of Crime
According to onlineschools.org, in 2013 South Padre Island, Texas averaged 25 arrests per day during Spring Break and collected $80,000 in fines. In 2013 Panama City Beach, Florida the court system decided to open Spring Break Court to process first-time defendants – most facing misdemeanor charges from alcohol to less than 20 grams of marijuana possession and disorderly conduct – quickly and efficiently before they leave the jurisdiction.
See these tips to stay ahead of crimes on Spring Break:
Keep only as much cash on you as you can afford to lose. See our Clever Ways to Keep your Travel Cash Safe for tips.
Be cautious when going to the ATM machine – cover the keypad when punching in your PIN, watch for lurkers who may want your cash or your card (or both), etc.
Keep your room key safe and if you lose it, realize that it may have been stolen. Ask hotel security to check your room before you shut and lock the door with someone hiding inside..
When stepping out, go with friends who will look out for each other. Watch for signs of predatory drugs: extreme dizziness and confusion, difficulty standing, slurred speech and take the affected person to the hospital.
Keep your cell phones charged at all times. There’s nothing worse than your friends trying to get in touch with you and your phone is dead.
Travel insurance plans specifically exclude coverage when the insured is engaged in illegal acts. This means that if you are injured trying to outrun law enforcement and charged with a crime of possession, your injuries may be treated at the local hospital, but you’ll likely be paying the hospital bill yourself.
3. Be Sure your Medical Insurance is Valid at your Destination
Medical care is expensive no matter where you travel, but if you travel outside your health insurance network you could be paying far higher out-of-network rates. If you travel outside the country – to Mexico or Canada, for example – your medical insurance is likely invalid so you’ll be paying for your medical care with cash or a credit card.
Take a minute to call your health insurance provider and ask what rates you will be paying for an emergency room visit if you travel to your intended destination. A single trip to the emergency room for stitches resulting from a beach wrestling match could cost you more than your semester of school.
4. Understand the Effects of Alcohol on your Coverage
According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, 75% of college males and 43% of females reported being intoxicated on a daily basis during Spring Break.
All travel insurance policies include exclusions on coverage for incidents that occur while the insured is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. If you’re drunk and your friends take you to the emergency room for treatment, your medical bill may not be covered because according to the insurance company you are willfully putting yourself at risk.
Plus, drunks are easy targets for criminals.
5. Have an Escape Plan
If you are severely injured and out of the country on Spring Break, you need to have medical evacuation coverage. A medical evacuation from Cancun to the U.S. can cost as much as $50,000.
If violence breaks out in Cancun and you have to leave to be safe, your travel insurance company will help you pay for and reserve a seat on commercial flights leaving your travel destination.
If you are badly injured and need medical attention, the travel insurance provider will arrange for your medical evacuation to the nearest hospital that can treat your injuries and then transport you home after you are considered medically stable.
Even while traveling around your destination, know the address of your hotel and different routes to get there from where you are partying. This way, you’ll have the assurance of knowing when a taxi driver is taking you on the scenic route or by the most direct route.