What Travel Insurance Does Not Cover

30 March 2022
What Travel Insurance Does Not Cover

Like any other type of insurance, travel insurance doesn’t cover everything.

Travelers with unsuccessful claims become frustrated because they feel they have been cheated (see Five “Loopholes” and How to Avoid Them).

This frustration can be avoided by understanding what is covered and what is not. This information is provided in the policy certificate, which you should review during your free look period.

Travel insurance does not cover cancellations for ‘everything’

Cancelled trips are a primary concern for most travelers.

Travel insurance provides coverage for cancellation and interruptions, but the reason for the cancellation makes a difference because not everything is covered.

Travel insurance policies provide a list of covered reasons for trip cancellation. If your reason is not on the list, you will not be covered.

Any cancellations for medical reasons need to be recommended and documented by a doctor. You cannot simply cancel a trip because a family member is sick…you need to have them see a doctor and have that doctor make that recommendation.

Note: See Cancel for Any Reason coverage to avoid these issues.

Pre-existing conditions require special attention

A pre-existing condition is something that happened (or started to happen) before you had insurance coverage.

When you file a claim due to a medical condition, the travel insurance company will look at your medical records. They will need to determine if/when this condition started to happen. If they look back and see no sign of the condition, that means it was not a known condition. If they see that you were diagnosed for the condition, that would be a pre-existing condition and coverage would be denied.

Note: Travel insurance companies have developed a Pre-existing condition waiver to provide coverage in some situations.

Travel insurance policies have a list of ‘exclusions’

Every travel insurance policy has a list of situation in which coverage is not provided, also known as exclusions. This is a specific list if reasons, and it should be reviewed carefully to avoid misunderstandings.

Most travel insurance plans automatically exclude the following from coverage:

  • Losses due to a pre-existing medical condition (although you can purchase a waiver if you have a pre-existing condition and get coverage).
  • Changing your mind or deciding you can’t afford to go (although you can purchase ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage and cancel a trip before it starts).
  • Losses for tickets or tours won as an award or by redeeming frequent flier or credit card miles (although some plans will reimburse the re-deposit fee for frequent flyer programs)
  • Travel costs where the purpose of the trip is to obtain medical treatment outside your home country, also called medical tourism.
  • Lousy weather conditions (although if you purchase ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage, you can cancel your trip before it starts if you decide you won’t have fun due to the weather).
  • Extreme, high-risk sports such as sky-diving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, heli-skiing and more (although some plans offer coverage for high-risk activities as an optional add-on).
  • Losses due to war (declared or not), military actions, civil disorder, and riots.
  • Losses due to venereal disease, AIDS virus, pregnancy (except complications of pregnancy), or abortion.
  • Losses due to mental, psychological, or nervous disorders including anxiety, depression, neurosis or psychosis.
  • Losses due to nuclear radiation or radioactive contamination.
  • Losses incurred while the insured is participating in an unlawful act.
  • Losses due to the insured intentionally causing bodily harm, including suicide.
  • Losses incurred while the insured is legally drunk or under the influence of drugs.

See the individual plan’s policy, certificate, or description for additional exclusions specific to the plan.

What IS covered

See the list of unforeseen events travel insurance typically does cover.

Damian Tysdal

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.

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.