A nasty case of gastroenteritis is a total buzzkill when it happens in the middle of your food and wine tour of Tuscany. When your spouse contracts Hepatitis A from a bad batch of strawberries in Chicago while you’re on a business trip in China – someone needs to take care of the kids. And while you’re lucky you avoided catching the pneumonia that took down your old classmate and would-be travel companion for that college reunion, you’re not going to be able make the trip happen solo.
There is no way around it: cancelling and cutting short your travel plans due to illness is a total bummer. But there are more than memories at stake – there is your money and health. And if you have non-refundable prepaid costs invested in these impacted trips, including airline tickets and tour fees, you may be out of luck and out a pretty penny if you don’t have travel insurance.
If you do have travel insurance, and you follow a few required steps such as seeing a physician and completing the necessary paperwork, then you may be eligible for reimbursement of these costs. Of course, there are a few conditions you need to meet, which are outlined in the policies of whichever insurance provider you select. But the biggest hurdle to meet is whether or not these illnesses are considered “covered illnesses.”
The scenarios we outlined above would widely be considered covered illnesses, but there are a number of exceptions and exclusions to be aware of. These include pre-existing conditions, as well as mental, nervous and emotional disorders. Here is a closer look at covered illnesses.
In the world of travel insurance, covered illnesses aren’t so much a comprehensive list of all the different ailments that cause travel insurance benefits to kick in. Instead, think of it as certain conditions that illnesses need to meet. Namely, the illness must be serious enough to compel a reasonable individual to interrupt, cancel or or delay his or her trip.1
Of course, if it were this easy, anyone could claim they were bedridden, and thus unable to travel, with a benign cold or hum-hum seasonal allergies. That’s why another key criterion that a covered illness needs to meet is physician confirmation, i.e. a doctor’s note, stating that a patient shouldn’t travel. (In the case of Allianz Travel Insurance, policy holders must be seen by a physician and told to cancel or interrupt their trip, or in the scenario that isn’t possible, they must be examined by a physician within 72 hours.)2
Ever since the Affordable Care act was implemented, those with and without a pre-existing condition have a lot more familiarity about what the terminology means.
As definitions for a pre-existing condition, also called an existing medical condition, can vary slightly, here is how Allianz Global Assistance defines it: “An Existing Medical Condition is an illness of injury that exhibited symptoms or was treated at any time 120 days prior to purchasing your plan.”
There are some travel insurance plans that cover pre-existing conditions and some that don’t. While having an existing medical condition can exclude travelers from meeting trip cancellation, delay or interruption conditions – solely from the covered illness perspective – some travel insurance companies have devised conditions that provide coverage even with the presence of a pre-existing condition. For example, with Allianz Global Assistance, you can still have an existing condition be considered a covered illness if the following conditions are met: