While travel insurance coverage terms can vary greatly among providers, there are some expenses and situations that won’t be covered under your travel insurance policy, regardless of who your provider is.
It’s always important to remember that the purpose of travel insurance is to protect you against losses that are related to very specific events and circumstances.
Unfortunately, some travellers are under the mistaken impression that travel insurance covers a much broader range of events and circumstances than it actually does.
Taking the time to carefully read your policy is the best way to understand what you will and won’t be covered for and avoid unexpected claim denials.
To help you avoid a claim issue, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common expenses travellers mistakenly believe are covered by travel insurance that are generally not covered.
Travel Medical Coverage
Travel medical insurance is designed specifically to cover emergency medical expenses (and some related travel costs) if you suffer an illness or injury while travelling that requires immediate medical attention and can not wait until you are able to return to your home province.
Here are a few examples of expenses travellers mistakenly believe are covered by travel medical insurance, but are not actually covered:
- Checkups: While regular checkups are a normal part of monitoring your health while at home, they aren’t covered by travel medical insurance.
- Follow-ups: If you require a follow-up visit with a doctor for an illness or injury you experience while travelling, it often won’t be covered by your travel medical insurance policy.
However, your provider may allow for an exception in some cases depending on the nature of the illness/injury and the follow-up. Otherwise, you’ll need to return to your home province for a follow-up appointment. Accordingly, you should always get pre-approval from your provider for any follow-up visits to avoid having your claim denied.
- Medication Refills: If you require medication prior to departing on your trip and you lose or run out of your medication while travelling, your travel medical insurance policy won’t cover you for refills. However, if you suffer an illness or injury while travelling, medication required to treat that illness or injury will be covered.
- Cash Payments for Expenses With No Receipts: If you pay cash for an expense that is covered under your policy, make sure you get a receipt, as your insurance provider will require evidence about the nature of this expense in order for you to be reimbursed.
- Vision Care / Glasses: Regular eye exams, contact lenses, glasses and other similar expenses are not covered by travel medical insurance.
Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Coverage
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is designed to protect you against losses for non-refundable travel expenses - like flights, hotels, cruises, tours and vacation rentals - if you have to cancel or return early from your trip.
However, you’ll only be entitled to reimbursement for these expenses if your cancellation or early return is a result of what is commonly referred to as a “covered cause” like an injury or illness to you or your travel companion, a death in your immediate family and other defined covered causes, both medical and non-medical in nature.
That’s why it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the covered causes in your policy and understand which reasons for cancelling or interrupting your trip will and won’t be covered.
Generally, trip cancellation and trip interruption travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you cancel or return early from your trip for the following reasons*:
- Changing Your Mind: Many travellers are under the false impression that trip cancellation and interruption insurance entitles you to reimbursement if you cancel or return early from your trip simply because you have changed your mind about travelling. However, this is not the case, and your policy won’t cover you
- Divorce or Breakup: Cancelling or interrupting your travel plans due to a breakup or divorce with your travel companion won’t entitle you to reimbursement for your travel expenses.
- Travel Document Issue: If you need to cancel or alter your travel plans due to an issue with your travel documents - for example, an expired passport or visa - you usually won’t be covered under your trip cancellation and interruption policy, except under limited circumstances.
- Booking a New Trip if you Cancel your Original Trip: If you have to cancel a trip, your policy may cover you for the lost travel expenses related to that trip, but it won’t cover you for the cost of booking a new trip to replace your original trip.
* Some providers offer Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) trip cancellation insurance policies that allow you to cancel your trip for any reason. However, these policies usually have higher premiums and come with a number of restrictions and limitations such as benefits that only cover 25% - 75% of your travel expenses, restrictions on when you can purchase your policy or cancel your trip and a requirement to insure 100% of your travel expenses.
Disclaimer: The material provided in the Snowbird Advisor Insurance Learning Centre is for informational purposes only and does NOT constitute insurance, legal, financial or other advice, and should not be relied on as such. If you require such advice, you should speak with a qualified professional to assist you.