Guide To Pregnancy And Travel Insurance – Forbes Advisor

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If you’re planning a trip and are pregnant or think you may be soon, you might consider buying a comprehensive travel insurance plan. It can help pay for emergency medical expenses related to unforeseen complications while traveling and protect the money you’ve invested in your upcoming mom-to-be adventure.

“Expecting moms planning a trip should seriously consider coverage to be better prepared for unplanned medical concerns while away from home,” says Christine Buggy, a spokesperson for Travelex Insurance Services.

While there are some exclusions and special considerations, learning about pregnancy and travel insurance is likely easier than assembling a new crib. Here are the key takeaways:

  • If you’re already pregnant when you buy the travel insurance, trip cancellation usually isn’t covered due to normal pregnancies.
  • If you become pregnant after you buy a policy, trip cancellation insurance may reimburse you if you cancel the trip due to a normal pregnancy. You must provide medical records to prove that the pregnancy started after the purchase date.
  • In certain situations, if you experience unforeseen pregnancy-related health issues documented by a doctor, you can file a trip cancellation insurance or trip interruption insurance claim.
  • It’s critical to have travel medical insurance if you’re going abroad. Unforeseen pregnancy complications during a trip can be covered under travel medical insurance, up to your policy limits.
  • The associated medical costs for normal pregnancy care during a trip generally aren’t covered, even if you have a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver.

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Pacify Your Concerns by Purchasing Travel Insurance Early

The sooner you buy travel insurance, the better. The best travel insurance plans package together valuable benefits that cover unexpected events both before and during your trip.

When you purchase travel insurance right after making your first trip deposits, you gain the longest window of protection if you need to cancel for a reason listed in the policy.

You also meet early-purchase requirements for cancellation upgrades that are worth considering if you’re traveling while pregnant.

Related: Advantages to buying travel insurance right after you book a trip

Mother Knows Best: Buy Travel Medical Insurance

Buying travel medical insurance for a trip outside of the country is a smart move, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not.

Travel medical insurance pays for hospital and doctor bills, X-rays, lab work, ambulance service and medicine if you’re injured or become ill during your trip. Reimbursement is up to the medical limits listed in your policy. Your U.S. health plan will cover you if you travel within the U.S., but if you go abroad, you may have limited or no coverage. Be sure to check on what kind of global coverage you already have.

Travel medical insurance can help you recoup costs for unforeseen pregnancy complications, but not for medical expenses relating to a normal pregnancy. Travel insurance companies use different definitions for “complications of pregnancy,” so be sure to ask for details when choosing a travel insurance plan.

The most generous travel insurance plans provide $500,000 per person in medical expenses, but you can find coverage amounts of $250,000, $100,000 or less.

Pregnancy and pre-existing medical condition exclusion waivers

Travel medical insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions—unless you have an exclusion waiver. A pre-existing condition generally refers to injury, illness or medical condition that caused you to experience symptoms, seek treatment or take medication in the 60 to 180 days before you bought the policy. A pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver allows you to use your travel medical benefits for these conditions.

Medical expenses related to normal pregnancy and childbirth often aren’t covered under travel medical insurance, even with a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver, says Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice.

However, some complications of pregnancy may fall under a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver. The best bet is to ask your travel insurance company whether you should get a waiver and what types of pregnancy complications are covered.

You usually must request a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver within 14 to 21 days of making your first trip deposit. If you qualify, this waiver is available at no additional cost.

Planning Ahead with Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance

In addition to buying travel medical insurance, Godlin recommends researching your destination, including nearby medical facilities.

“You’ll also want to plan for every situation that you can,” says Godlin. “Ask yourself, if you were to go into early labor or have pregnancy-related complications during your trip, where’s the closest medical facility?”

Part of planning for any potential scenario may mean buying emergency medical evacuation insurance. It can reimburse you if you’re injured or become ill on your trip and need medical care beyond what’s available locally. Emergency medical evacuation benefits help pay medevac costs to transport you to the nearest adequate treatment facility—or even back home if necessary. The most generous travel insurance plans provide $1 million in emergency medical evacuation coverage, per person.

“Research hospitals, pharmacies and doctors and take advantage of any services provided by your travel protection plan because many provide assistance with services available at your destination,” Godlin says.

She also recommends meeting with your doctor before your departure to be sure you’re cleared to travel.

Trip Cancellation Insurance for Pregnant Travelers

Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you for prepaid and nonrefundable trip deposits you lose if you cancel due to unforeseeable events listed in your policy. These reasons can include severe weather, injury or a medical emergency.

Issues related to a normal pregnancy are typically not covered under trip cancellation insurance. However, cancellations due to pregnancy-related medical emergencies are generally covered.

For example, let’s say you were already pregnant when you bought your travel insurance plan. Then, a week before your trip, you’re diagnosed with a pregnancy complication listed in your travel insurance policy. You would be eligible to file a claim under trip cancellation benefits.

You would not be covered under trip cancellation insurance if you backed out because you have routine morning sickness or are too uncomfortable.

Also,  you’re not eligible to file a claim for a complication or issue that might happen. For instance, a doctor may advise you not to travel because your due date is soon and you have a history of delivering babies prematurely. That wouldn’t be covered because it is a potential complication but not a current issue.

Here are some examples of what may be considered pregnancy complications in some travel insurance policies:

  • Acute nephritis
  • Cardiac decompensation
  • Non-elective cesarean section
  • Nephrosis

Here are examples of what may not be considered a complication in some travel insurance plans:

  • False labor
  • Physician-prescribed bed rest
  • Preeclampsia

Acceptable complications for a travel insurance claim can vary significantly among travel insurance companies, so be sure to check the details of your policy. For example, hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness, may be covered at one travel insurance company but not another.

“Cancel for any reason” coverage and pregnancy

If you want the freedom to cancel for reasons beyond those listed in your travel insurance plan, consider adding “cancel for any reason” coverage. It’s an optional upgrade that generally provides 75% reimbursement of your non-refundable trip costs, as long as you cancel at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure.

“Cancel for any reason” coverage typically adds an average of 50% to the cost of your travel insurance. You usually must buy the upgrade within 14 days of making your first trip deposit.

Related: Average Cost of Travel Insurance

Trip Interruption Insurance and Travel During Pregnancy

If you experience unforeseen complications related to your pregnancy while traveling and want to return home early, you can file a trip interruption insurance claim.

It can compensate you for a last-minute flight home and prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if you leave early due to a complication covered in your policy.

There are a few travel insurance companies that offer “interruption for any reason” travel insurance. With this insurance, you can return home early from your trip, regardless of the reason, and be reimbursed for 75% of your trip costs, as long as you’re 48 hours or more into your trip.

Adding “interruption for any reason” coverage to a travel insurance plan typically adds 3% to 10% to the travel insurance cost. Like “cancel for any reason” coverage, it’s an upgrade you typically must buy within 15 to 20 days of your first trip payment. Seven Corners is one travel insurance company that offers “interruption for any reason” travel insurance.

Birth and Travel Insurance

If you give birth while on your trip and it’s a routine delivery, your travel medical insurance usually won’t reimburse you for the medical costs.

However, if unforeseen complications ensue during delivery, your travel medical benefits can compensate you for associated emergency medical costs, up to limits specified in your policy.

I Got Pregnant After I Bought Travel Insurance, Now What?

Although benefits vary by insurance company and travel insurance plan, Buggy at Travelex says that trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits may apply to a normal pregnancy if you become pregnant after you bought the policy. This would allow you to cancel for reasons such as not wanting to travel while pregnant, finding out your baby’s due date is too close to the trip, or because you gave birth and no longer want to go on the trip, she says.

The timing of pregnancy is key in this scenario. For example, to be eligible for trip cancellation and interruption benefits under Travelex’s Travel Select policy, the date of conception must be after the policy purchase date.

“This means if you are already pregnant at the time you buy the policy, pregnancy is not a covered reason for canceling your trip,” says Buggy.

You need to show medical records from a licensed obstetrician-gynecologist that prove the pregnancy occurred after you bought the policy, she says.

What Pregnancy Issues Are Not Covered by Travel Insurance?

In addition to routine pregnancy and childbirth, there are some pregnancy-related issues that are generally excluded from coverage, says Grant Hayes, a spokesperson for International Medical Group (IMG), which sells iTravelInsured plans.

Some of these exclusions are:

  • Routine physical exams
  • Traveling for the purpose of securing medical treatment or advice
  • Fertility treatments
  • Trips taken if you’re not medically cleared to travel
  • Expenses from a child born during your trip

Review Airline Guidelines for Pregnant Flyers

It’s also prudent to check with your airline to see if there are travel restrictions for pregnant passengers. Commercial air travel is generally considered safe up to week 36 of a pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, rules vary by airline. While one may not have any restriction, another may have specific criteria.

For example, United Airlines requires the following if you’ve reached or passed week 36:

  • A certificate from an obstetrician declaring it’s safe for you to travel during the dates of your trip and that your due date is after the date of the last flight on your itinerary
  • The original obstetrician certificate and two copies dated within 72 hours of your departure

JetBlue stipulates that you can’t take one of their flights if your due date is within seven days of departure, unless you provide documentation from your doctor declaring that you’re medically fit to fly during your trip dates. Your estimated due date must also be after the date of your last flight.

If you are turned away at the boarding gate because you don’t meet the airline’s criteria for air travel and have to cancel your trip, you typically will not be covered by your travel insurance.

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