These days, it seems like everyone is talking about one thing: Babies, babies, babies. Even though it doesn’t seem like a travel insurance company would be much into the royal baby fervor, we must admit that a few of us got swept up in the news along with the rest of the world. But mainly, it got us thinking about pregnancy, birth, and what kinds of travel insurance options are available during this somewhat delicate period of life.
If you’re pregnant already and need travel insurance:
You are eligible for the same travel insurance benefits for trip cancellation and interruption that any other healthy adult can purchase. Pregnancy isn’t automatically viewed as a possible deterrent to travel, which is good news for you. However, you should be aware that there are a few distinctions your insurance company will likely look at if you do end up cancelling or interrupting your trip, or needing emergency medical care while away from home.
- Routine pregnancy-related issues. If you should decide to cancel your travel plans because of something like morning sickness, or because your pregnancy is getting rather advanced and you feel you’d be too uncomfortable to travel, you most likely won’t be covered. Since you were already pregnant when you purchased your insurance, these somewhat predictable pregnancy symptoms would be considered “foreseen” — and insurance only covers unforeseen circumstances. However, if you happen to have purchased a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) plan, the same restrictions don’t apply. As long as you meet all the eligibility requirements, including cancelling your plans and notifying all travel suppliers at least 48 hours in advance of your departure date, you should have the flexibility to change your mind under CFAR.
- Unforeseen complications. While most pregnancies are probably going to progress smoothly, if you did happen to experience a more serious complication after purchasing your policy, your travel insurance benefits would likely cover your decision to cancel or interrupt your trip. For example, potentially severe conditions such as pre-eclampsia or placenta previa would be viewed as unforeseen medical emergencies. Hyperemesis gravidarum, the extreme form of morning sickness that plagued the Duchess of Cambridge early in her pregnancy, could also be considered an unforeseen medical situation by your insurance company, particularly if it required medical intervention such as hospitalization (as it did for the duchess). In any case, you’d need to provide the insurance company with documentation from your doctor showing that you’re not well enough to travel safely.
- Medical emergencies while traveling. If, while on your trip, you need to seek medical attention for any reason, your insurance company will likely want to look at whether the illness or injury was the result of a routine pregnancy (again, think of typical morning sickness that may drive you to the infirmary on your cruise ship), or something less foreseeable. In general, any unexpected injury or illness unrelated to your pregnancy would be covered under the regular terms of your particular travel insurance policy. If you had to seek emergency medical treatment for sudden complications of your pregnancy, that should also be covered as long as it was unforeseen. Which brings me to the next point:
- Worsening of existing conditions. While pregnancy itself is not really viewed as a “pre-existing condition” by travel insurance companies, if you do have a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, or some other risk factor in your pregnancy at the time that your insurance policy takes effect, you need to be aware that your specific pregnancy-related medical condition will be viewed as a pre-existing condition. That means that if, while traveling, you experience a worsening of that specific condition and need to seek treatment, your medical expenses likely won’t be covered. Likewise, if your condition worsens before you depart and you want to cancel your trip, you probably wouldn’t be eligible for a cancellation benefit. CFAR, again, would be useful to you in this circumstance; also, when buying your insurance, you might consider asking about a Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver. Your eligibility for a Pre-Ex Waiver may vary depending on the terms and conditions of different insurance companies, but in general, as long as you’re deemed medically fit to travel on the day you buy your travel insurance, it could be a viable option for you.
If you find out you’re pregnant after you buy your travel insurance:
Happily, the discovery that you’re pregnant after you’ve already made your travel plans and purchased your insurance may qualify as an “unforeseen circumstance.” A few companies, though not all, will provide you with travel insurance coverage for a newly discovered pregnancy, as long as they can verify through your medical records that you did, in fact, discover the happy news after your insurance policy took effect. That means that if you find out that you’re expecting a bundle of joy after your policy is already in place, you could theoretically decide to change your plans — based on nothing other than the pregnancy itself — and potentially receive your trip cancellation benefits. Make sure to read through your policy details to see how your individual insurance company views this circumstance.
A final note about traveling while pregnant.
Not to end on a sour note, but it’s important that we touch on a last possibility here: The unlikely, but real, possibility of going into pre-term labor while away from home. It’s a remote but unsettling chance, and while you’d certainly be covered for medical care, the question of whether or not your infant would be is a serious one. Most travel insurance policies don’t cover infants under a certain age (fourteen days is one standard; others may extend up to a month), which would bring up a tricky situation in the case of a premature newborn needing care. If you are planning to travel while in the later months of your pregnancy, it may be wise to discuss the matter with both your travel insurance company and your own medical insurance company to determine what options, if any, would be available to you and your baby if an emergency situation did arise.
Pregnancy is a joyous and usually quite healthy time in a woman’s life. Traveling during pregnancy is certainly a viable choice for many, and can be a wonderful way to enjoy the months before parenthood. But as with any other life-changing event, it comes with its own set of concerns that need to be carefully thought out before you embark on any plans. To discuss travel insurance options during pregnancy, and to ask any questions that you may have, we recommend speaking with one of our licensed insurance representatives at 800-487-4722.