Does travel insurance cover your special circumstances?

Rachel Gibson needs travel insurance. But her circumstances are special.

“We’re waiting to adopt a newborn baby,” she says. “The timing is uncertain.”

Every day, travelers try to match their itineraries and needs to an insurance policy. Often, it’s an easy fit — but not always.

After receiving a few thousand emails from curious readers, it got me thinking: Why isn’t there an impartial, authoritative buyer’s guide for travel insurance — something that would offer readers like Gibson the answers they need?

That led to a conversation with Allianz Travel Insurance, one of this site’s supporters. We agreed to collaborate on the project, and the result is a series that begins today.

“Do you know any travel insurance companies that provide insurance for this?” Gibson asked me. “We have found it hard to make travel plans — beyond Southwest, thank God for them — and people keep telling me to look at travel insurance but from what I can see this doesn’t qualify for coverage.”

As is so often the case with travel insurance, there’s a short answer, and a long answer.

Short answer: The only kind of travel insurance that would cover someone with the need for flexibility in every case would be a “cancel for any reason” policy. It’s a subset of trip cancellation, usually available for a slightly higher premium, that provides for cancellations that aren’t covered by the basic coverage. You may be reimbursed up to 80 percent of your nonrefundable trip payments and deposits if a trip is canceled for a reason other than a covered reason.

In other words, you’ll have to pay more, and if you file a claim, you’ll get a little less. But will be covered.

And the long answer? More traditional “named perils” policies may cover special circumstances. The operative word being “may.”

For example, some insurance policies cover unforeseen pregnancy complications, including pre-eclampsia or preterm labor. If you interrupt a trip because of a covered pregnancy complication, you could be reimbursed for nonrefundable trip costs. Some insurance policies also reimburse you for emergency medical care you received while you’re traveling.

But what if you’re pregnant and have to cancel your trip because of a normal pregnancy? The only way you’d be covered is if normal pregnancy is named as a “covered” reason — specifically names pregnancy as something it covers — and the pregnancy occurred after the effective date of coverage. Travel insurance usually doesn’t cover the costs of normal childbirth while traveling.

So what other special circumstances may not be covered by insurance?

  • Any previously existing medical conditions, unless specifically stated otherwise.
  • High-risk activities such as mountain climbing, scuba diving, and skydiving.
  • A psychiatric emergency, like a nervous breakdown or panic attack.
  • Injuries related to terrorist attacks or acts of war.

Back to Gibson’s question, though. Why wouldn’t a travel insurance company write a policy that covers adoption? It’s because, as Gibson herself notes, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding an adoption, particularly an intercountry adoption. The failure rates are a concern, and something most insurance underwriters would not want to assume as a risk.

But her question illuminates a bigger issue in the travel insurance industry. There is no “one-size-fits-all” trip, just as there’s no “one-size-fits-all” policy. Everyone has some kind of special circumstances — a pre-existing medical condition or a predilection for go-kart racing — that may or may not be covered by insurance.

Never assume that you are covered for a specific situation and that’s particularly true if you have a special circumstance that you’re concerned about. You can always hedge your bets by buying a “cancel for any reason” policy, but if that’s not in your budget, read the policy very carefully and only assume you’re covered if it’s actually in the policy. Your insurance company will.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

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AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

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The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

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Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

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An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

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The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

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The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

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Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

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Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

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