We’ve all heard the horror stories about travellers who thought they had the right coverage, but then find out too late about the exclusion clauses. Understanding travel insurance is difficult and interpretation is always present in these lengthy legally binding policies. Hopefully I can shed some light on what to look for so you never get caught. This is one time you will want to read the fine print.
There are many different types of policies so having a knowledgeable travel agent who can advise you on the best one for you is a good start. Think you’re already covered – look closely. Are you eligible and what is the criteria? Most policies won’t cover you at all if your physician has advised you not to travel; or you have a terminal illness with less than 6 months to live; or you are on kidney dialysis or you have used home oxygen within the last 12 months.
Pre-existing illness means a medical condition that existed before your effective date when you purchased your travel insurance. Stability is another word which is very important and it means all of the following with various time factors (usually 3, 6 or 12 months prior) depending on the policy purchased:
- There have not been any new symptoms
- Existing symptoms have not become more frequent or severe
- A physician has not determined that the medical condition has become worse
- No test findings have shown that the medical condition may be getting worse
- A physician has not provided, prescribed, or recommended any new medication, any change in medication (including taking you off a prescription)
- A physician has not provided, prescribed or recommended any new treatment, test or any change in treatment or medication
- There has been no admission to a hospital or specialty clinic
- A physician has not advised a visit to a specialist or to have further testing, and there has been no testing for which the results have not yet been received.
Apart from your own medical reasons and age here are some other exclusions you need to watch for:
- Any reason, circumstance, event or medical condition affecting you or anyone (travelling companion, family not travelling etc.) which may eventually prevent you from taking a trip
- Any loss resulting from a minor mental or emotional disorder
- Committing a criminal act
- Pregnancy, childbirth or complications related to your pregnancy after a designated period (often 9 weeks prior to due date)
- Travel documents such as passports and visas are not in order
- An act of war or act of terrorism unless specified in the policy
These are by all means just some of the possible reasons you would be denied a claim on your travel insurance. The intent is to become more aware of what you are actually covered for and what questions to ask before purchasing your policy. Here is where honesty is the best policy!