An unforeseen illness can strike anytime, anywhere and when you travel you’re exposing yourself to additional germs and viruses that can affect your health while you’re traveling.
Of course, becoming ill prior to a trip may mean that you have to cancel your trip due to illness. If someone gets ill prior to or during your trip, you may decide to seek medical care, cancel the trip, or abandon it and return home to be with that family member. Given the uncertainty that can occur around getting sick, it’s important to understand how travel insurance covers illness.
Travel insurance cover for illness is centered on the following coverage:
- Trip cancellation – as in you have to cancel your trip due to a personal illness, an illness in the family, or an ill business partner
- Trip interruption – as in you have to turn around and go home, forfeiting unused trip expenses due to an illness (yours, a travel companion’s, a business partner’s or a family member’s)
- Emergency medical – as in you are ill and outside your health insurance network and need medical care immediately
- Emergency evacuation – as in you are critically ill, desperately need medical attention, and the local medical facilities can’t help
Common Travel Scenarios where Travel Insurance Covered Illness
Here are some scenarios where the right travel insurance plan can help a traveler who’s facing an illness:
- Your aging mother is suddenly hospitalized due to an unexpected stroke and you cancel your trip to be with her instead.
- Your three kids come down with a bad case of strep throat while you are touring Sweden. You call your travel insurance provider, find a local doctor, pick up the prescription meds, and settle down into the hotel to get better.
- You’re in Rome when you get the call that your daughter has been hospitalized and is critically ill. You call the airline, change your tickets, and head home immediately.
- On a recent business trip, your business partner and traveling companion collapses and the local medical facilities are ill equipped to provide the medical care he needs. You call your travel insurance provider and request an emergency evacuation.
What travel insurance coverage for illness doesn’t include
Travel insurance coverage for illness does not include paying for your unused pre-paid trip expenses if the illness is related to a pre-existing condition.
If you suspect that you may need to cancel or interrupt your trip or you might need emergency medical care as a result of a pre-existing medical condition (yours, your traveling companion’s, a family member’s, etc.), then you’ll need to purchase a plan that covers pre-ex. Pre-existing medical condition limits do not apply to emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.
Here’s how to know if you need pre-existing condition coverage.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.