With all of the cancelled or delayed flights and travel plans due to the recent super storms and polar vortex, it's important to be well informed on how to get the most out of their travel insurance plans.
As is the case with any conventional insurance policy, a travel insurance policy serves as a legal contract. Travelers pay a fee to insure that their risks are covered, and the insurance company agrees to pay for damages in the event of a cancellation, delay, injury, illness, accident, and more; however, the insurance company will only reimburse a traveler if what occurred is specifically included and covered by the policy.
Numerous travelers are not clear on what a travel insurance policy covers and after reading a few stories from other travelers, some believe that if they file a claim for reimbursement they will ultimately be denied. The following is a list of the most frequent reasons that travel insurance claims get denied and how to ensure that you receive the reimbursement that you're entitled.
Claim Denial Due to a Non- Covered Reason:
It's important to recognize that most travel insurance policies are "named peril" policies which means that simply having the trip cancellation included in your coverage does not automatically mean that you're covered; if your reason for cancellation is not listed in the policy, then you will not be covered. While most travel insurance companies cover the same major perils, there can be slight differences so it is important that you carefully review what is and is not covered before making your final purchase decision.
Claim Denial Due to Lack of Documentation:
Travel insurance companies will require a paper trail to prove that you incurred a loss or expense and won't simply take you at your word. Because of this it is extremely important that you make sure that you keep all of your receipts and get proof of any incidents in writing.
Following are a few tips on what to do in these particular situations:
- When a flight is cancelled, ask the airline representatives to give you a printout of the cancellation or get an email from the airline confirming the flight cancellation.
- If your luggage is lost, stolen or delayed keep all of your receipts for any necessary purchases that you had to make. Also, get documentation from the airline if luggage is lost in transit. If items are stolen make sure you get a police report.
- If you lose your travel documentation such as your passport, identification or driver's license, file a report at the nearest embassy or police department and ask to receive a copy for insurance purposes.
- If you cancel your trip due to an illness or injury, be sure that you visit a doctor and get a note stating that he or she recommends that you cancel the trip or that you are not fit to travel.
- Whenever anything happens during your trip that you may want to file a claim for, be sure that you receive proof in writing.
Claim Denial Due to a Pre-Existing Condition:
Pre-existing conditions are generally defined as "any injury, illness, disease, or other medical condition that occurs prior to the travel plan's effective date and for which you had symptoms and sought diagnosis, medical treatment, and/or new prescription medications or a change in your current prescription."
If you or any of your travel companions have received changes in your medications, or if you have visited a doctor for treatment within the last 60 to 180 days, then you should seriously consider purchasing an insurance policy that includes a pre-existing condition waiver.
Most insurance companies offering the pre-existing condition waiver will only cover the traveler if he or she has met all of the criteria. This criterion varies between companies, but generally requires that the traveler purchases the insurance policy within 14 days of the initial booking deposit, is medically able to travel at the time of the policy purchase. Make sure that you check the criteria required by the insurance company that you purchase your policy from.
For example, InsureandGo USA automatically includes a pre-existing condition waiver to travelers under 70 years old as long as you purchase the policy within 14 days of the initial trip deposit and cover the full cost of the trip.
Claim Denial Due to Misrepresentation on the Insurance Application:
While not technically a claim denial, a traveler could have their policy voided or "rescinded" if the information reported on the application for coverage is inaccurate whether intentionally or not. It's important that you review all of your information to make sure that you accurately presented all of your travel dates, age, trip costs, and personal information on your insurance policy application. That online application that you fill out becomes part of the insurance agreement, so taking the extra couple of minutes to review it is well worth it.
Is Travel Insurance a Case of Buyer Beware?
As travelers, we should take the time to review the policy documents to make sure that we are buying what we think are buying. By not reviewing the insurance policy we can set ourselves up for false expectations and then be terribly disappointed when a claim is denied.