Spring break for college kids may be one of the best times of their lives -- catching some rays, hanging out with friends and partying on the beach. However, an unexpected event -- getting sick or getting arrested -- can kick sand in the face of a spring breaker.
Aside from packing sunscreen, bathing suits and common sense, experts recommend that spring breakers take along insurance.
Here are the three types of insurance a spring breaker should consider before driving off or jetting off on a getaway:
• Travel insurance.
• Medical insurance.
• Legal insurance.
Among the types of travel insurance policies that are recommended are trip cancellation, trip evacuation, medical, flight and luggage. Many of these types of coverage are included in a standard trip insurance policy, says Marion McDonald, a travel consultant in Tennessee.
Spring breakers can expect their travel insurance to make up 3 percent to 5 percent of their total vacation price. The cost of most travel insurance packages is based on the age of the tourist and the price tag for the trip.
“Most young adults are not going on a $5,000 vacation, so they can usually get travel insurance for as low as $50,” McDonald says.
If that cost still is too much to bear, skip the trip cancellation coverage, McDonald says. The typical college student won't encounter situations forcing them to cancel a trip, she says.
In terms of coverage for lost or stolen luggage, young spring breakers shouldn’t worry, says Mark Ceslowitz, president of Travmark, a provider of specialty insurance in Hoboken, N.J. Most travel insurance policies offer $500 to $1,000 worth of luggage coverage.
“The typical college student isn’t going to be walking around with a $5,000 watch, so they should be fine with the normal luggage coverage in most travel plans,” Ceslowitz says.
Because college-age spring breakers usually are too young to rent vehicles, car rental insurance probably won't be on the insurance checklist, experts say.
Aside from traditional health insurance, spring breakers would be wise to look into medical evacuation coverage, McDonald says. In case of a major emergency, companies like Air Ambulance Card, Global Rescue and International SOS and MedJet Assist can arrange for medical treatment in the country you're visiting or back home.
Costs for these programs vary. For instance, MedJet Assist offers a yearly membership starting at $250; short-term travel protection can be purchased for $95 a person.
On average, a young adult on spring break consumes about 10 alcoholic beverages each day during the trip. Because alcohol can get spring breakers in trouble with the law, legal insurance may be a smart investment.
Eric Wells, a representative of Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., says customers who run into the long arm of the law can take advantage of 24-hour access to an attorney anywhere in the United States. Wells says the coverage comes in especially handy in popular spring break destinations like Daytona Beach, Fla.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and South Padre Island, Texas.
At Pre-Paid Legal, the nationwide legal insurance ranges from $17 to $26 a month. Travelers also can buy just one month of coverage for a short-term trip, Wells says.
If a spring breaker is arrested for public intoxication, for instance, he or she can call a Prepaid Legal hotline to get legal advice. Within five minutes, an attorney in the area will return the call and work toward helping the troubled traveler.
People who buy legal insurance also can reap the benefits of identity theft coverage, vehicle coverage and traffic-ticket coverage.
“I always advise parents to train their children to call attorneys. Kids have a right to talk to their attorney -- not their parents,” Wells says. Having legal coverage can "mean the difference between spending the night in jail or having another fun night with friends," he says.