Travelers, Beware! Top Five Things Not Covered By Travel Insurance

Travelers, Beware! Top Five Things Not Covered By Travel Insurance

Travel insurance, unlike international health insurance, provides short term solutions and is designed to cover unforeseen medical expenses and losses incurred while traveling. Generally, it includes:

    • - medical expenses, in case of injury or sickness,
    • - travel schedule inconveniences like trip cancellations and/or unexpected interruptions,
    • - unforeseen events, like the loss or theft of valuable items.

In buying travel insurance, many are confused with the array of choices and its variations. It is worth seeking the free advice of insurance brokers, like Expatmedicare, or one has to be diligent in reading the fine print thoroughly, especially regarding what is not covered.

War and Instability

Let's start with the worst-case scenario – war. If any type of large-scale conflict breaks out in the country you're in or headed to, your costs will almost certainly not be covered by your insurance. Even the seeds of war, like civil unrest, will usually be excluded from most travel insurance plans.

Then there are other disasters, like earthquakes, pandemics, or tsunamis, which will also not be covered by travel insurance. This is because insurance companies have deduced that the cost of covering anyone in the affected region(s) would be too great, especially when considering that the companies themselves might be negatively affected as well.

In the event of war, pandemics, natural calamities, or any seminal type of conflict, it would be unwise to rely upon travel insurance. Instead, it is best to cancel or change your travel plans as quickly as possible. Thus, for any trip to a politically or geographically-unstable country, we recommend that you buy ticket insurance, in case you need to cancel at the last minute. The small amount you invest will protect you from incurring a big financial loss if war or disaster does break out.

Pre-Existing Conditions, Pregnancy, and Childbirth

Another common exclusion is pre-existing condition(s). Having said that, some companies do provide coverage if the condition has been stable for six months previous to your departure.

As for pregnancy, as it is considered to be a pre-existing condition, it is also not covered. However, a pregnant traveler will be covered if she has an annual health policy or an expat maternity insurance.

Injury or Illness Caused by Alcohol or Drug Use

While you are surely a responsible traveler without plans to go on a drug bender during your business trip overseas, this one exclusion is worth noting. Businessman Peter Sandler recalled suffering from alcohol poisoning after having a bit too much to drink at a company outing. Upon waking up in the hospital after having his stomach pumped with charcoal-infused water, the traveler attempted to get compensation from his travel insurance company, only to be shocked by their exclusion of such cases. Remember to be extra careful if you do choose to partake – if you slip up, it could cost you dearly.

Extreme Sports

If you're a thrill-seeker who loves mountaineering, parachuting, skydiving, bungee jumping, or even scuba diving, it is recommended that you check with your insurer before performing such feats during the course of your travels. These adrenaline-pumping activities constitute a financial risk to the travel insurance provider and they will often stipulate beforehand that such activities are not covered.

Credit Cards and Personal Items

Another item that is commonly not covered is the loss of your credit card, due to theft or carelessness. This is because many credit card companies already have existing travel insurance, thus rendering an additional coverage redundant. That said, while planning a trip, confirm with your credit card company that the card itself will be covered. If it is not, then talk with your travel agent to make sure that you are covered to your fullest satisfaction.

The rules which apply to credit cards usually apply to all personal belongings. Simply declaring a loss of any item will not get you compensated – you must also provide a police report. Additionally, it is worth noting that if your item is stolen while it is in a private room, there absolutely must be proof of forced entry.

Electronic Equipment

Another item that is generally not covered by travel insurance is electronic equipment. Although your smaller electronic items might be covered (again, check the fine print), any big-ticket items, costing $2,000 or more, will usually be excluded from the plan. Like we mentioned about the credit cards and other small personal belongings: it matters how the item is lost, and what proof you can produce to back up your claim. In order to most effectively take care of this problem, it is advised that you use a "personal articles policy" (costing about 5% of the value of the product). In this area, many insurance companies are quite variable, and some will have better deals than others. Don't be afraid to get competitive.

In a Nutshell

  1. Travel insurance does not cover high risk regions like war zones and pandemic areas.
  2. Pregnancy and childbirth are excluded. This applies to other pre-existing conditions as well.
  3. Electronics and personal items are not covered unless you can provide evidence that they have been stolen
  4. Accidents caused by alcohol or drug abuse will not be covered.
  5. Avoid high-risk activities like skydiving, bungee jumping, parachuting, etc.
  6. Know what is covered by your own medical insurance, if you have one, and by your credit card company, so you know what type of travel insurance to buy.
  7. Work with a reputable insurance company or broker.