My parents plan on taking my 89 year old grandmother on a 5500 mile trip this spring. She wants to make one last trip to visit my uncle who moved far away shortly after graduating from college. For her age I think my grandmother is in great health. She still lives at home alone and is able to walk unassisted.

The biggest problem is that she often doesn’t feel well. She doesn’t necessarily have a cold or anything, she just feels tired and run down. In essence, she doesn’t feel like she can leave the house.

Of course, from day to day she never knows whether or not she’ll feel well. Some days she wakes up feeling great and happy. Other days she simply doesn’t want to leave home. So how can my parents plan a cross country trip when they don’t know how she will feel on the day they leave for Hawaii?

I told my dad I would look into travel insurance, but after reviewing the details online I can’t quite make heads or tails of it. It seems like all three of them need to be insured so that if my grandmother is ill they will receive money back for all of their tickets, but I’m not exactly sure how that works.

I’m also not certain how insurers define ‘ill.’ I doubt the policy will pay out just because my grandmother says she doesn’t feel well. I would assume she needs some type of medical proof of her illness. Given that she isn’t necessarily ‘ill’ by medical definition, but rather just exhausted and tired I’m pretty sure that she would not be covered.

After talking it over with my dad I wonder if she really needs travel insurance at all. Perhaps she just needs to purchase more expensive, refundable tickets that would allow her to change or cancel her flight all together.

I need to gain a better understanding of the role and rules of travel insurance, but at first glance it does not appear to be particularly straight forward. I would hate for my family to purchase something they don’t need, but given my grandmother’s age and frailty I would also hate for them to lose money if she wakes up on the day of their trip and doesn’t feel well enough to fly.
Is anyone familiar with the rules of travel insurance? Do you think that travel insurance is necessary for my grandmother’s trip or are refundable airfare tickets all that she needs?