Top Ten Things that Travel Insurance Doesn't Cover

George Hobica, July 16, 2007
Fares from Washington DC:

    Most people don’t bother to look at the fine print when they sign up for travel insurance. Here are some common exclusions and exceptions to consider before you plan your next trip.



    Most people don’t bother to look at the fine print when they sign up for travel insurance. Here are some common exclusions and exceptions to consider before you plan your next trip.

    Your Tour Operator Cancels on You
    We’re not talking about when you cancel your trip; this is when your trip cancels on you. For example, if you’re signed up for a Canadian rail tour, you might buy Trip Cancellation Insurance in case you can’t go. But what if the rail tour itself gets cancelled? Most insurance policies won’t cover that scenario, so for example your non-refundable airfare isn’t covered.

    Acts of War/Local Protests
    Although terrorism is covered by most policies, acts of war or civil unrest are common policy exclusions. So even if ongoing protests or sporadic outbreaks in international locations might force you to change your plans, most policies won’t help.

    Pre-existing Medical Conditions
    This is a common exclusion in many insurance policies—but what does it mean? It refers to any medical condition that has required attention prior to travel or initiation of the policy. So while traveling, if you suffer a health problem related to that condition, your treatment may not be covered.

    Baggage Delayed for Less than 24 Hours (Outbound Flights Only)
    Most policies will not reimburse necessary expenditures for baggage delayed less than 24 hours. So it would be a good idea to carry on what you need for at least a day after you arrive at your destination. Note that this applies to outbound flights only, which means the coverage does not apply to baggage delays for your trip home.

    Death or Illness of a Pet
    Bet you hadn’t thought of this one? Many of us have beloved animals in our homes, and you’d certainly not want to go on that family trip if Fido was terribly sick. But don’t expect insurance policies to be sympathetic. Even service animals, such as seeing eye dogs, aren’t covered, although that may change as the industry wakes up to the need for such coverage.

    Loss or Damage to Keys, Money, Documents, Tickets, or Credit Cards
    These items are commonly listed under the exclusions to Baggage and Personal Items Coverage. Be sure to keep these and other valuables with you at all times.

    Sports Injuries
    Many insurance policies don’t cover injuries from certain adventure sports like bungee jumping, paragliding, mountain climbing, or white water rafting.

    Pregnancy and Childbirth
    Insurance policies specify the conditions under which pregnancy complications or childbirth is covered (if at all). This is a common exclusion, so if you plan on traveling while pregnant, be sure to read the fine print.

    Psychological Illness or Self Inflicted Injuries
    Coverage for emotional and mental illnesses or emergencies is often excluded. If you suffer a nervous breakdown, your insurance won’t let you cancel your trip without penalty.

    Your Spouse files for Divorce Before the Trip
    Increasingly, insurance companies are adding coverage for this situation. However, some policies do not include divorce or legal separation as valid reasons for cancelling or interrupting a trip.  

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