We were recently asked this question by a travel insurance consumer, who was advised by his father’s doctor not to take a planned trip because of his father’s illness. He canceled his trip, but the insurance claim was denied for two reasons:
- The father’s condition was the result of a pre-existing medical condition.
- The insurance plan had not been purchased within the required number of days from the initial trip payment.
Obviously, the consumer was frustrated and it is unfortunate, but many travel insurance buyers simply don’t understand that travel insurance, just like any other type of insurance, has rules and exclusions. The problem is, in part, because travel insurance is a relatively new product on the market and people are just getting used to how it can help them and how it works. We’re all much more familiar with our life insurance, which also has exclusions. Life insurance doesn’t pay out if the insured commits suicide, for example.
All travel insurance plans automatically exclude pre-existing medical conditions.
A pre-existing condition waiver is called that because it is a waiver that overcomes the pre-existing medical condition exclusion listed in travel insurance plans. So, if you or a traveling companion has a pre-existing medical condition that you’ve seen a doctor for – headaches, cancer, any illness at all – during the look-back period then a trip cancellation for that reason would automatically be denied without this waiver. This rule also applies if you cancel your trip due to the illness of a family member, as it was in this case.
Travel insurance coverage with a pre-existing condition waiver has to be purchased within a certain number of days after making the initial trip payment. This is to reduce the travel insurance company’s level of risk and to give you the longest range of trip cancellation and interruption coverage.
Review the full details of pre-existing medical coverage, including examples and terminology. The table at the bottom of the page will tell you how much coverage each company and plan provides, including the time frame for purchase, the look-back period and the policy limit.
Reviewing your policy documents during the free review period and using the pages on this site will help everyone better understand their travel insurance and cut down on the frustration due to denied claims.