Travel Insurance Exclusions: Reading the Fine Print in Your Policy

Insurance lets you travel with peace of mind. But does your policy cover everything? Even premium coverage has numerous exclusions that limit the insurer's obligation to pay.

Exclusions shouldn't scare you off from buying travel insurance. They are a normal part of all policies. But it's a good idea to know the "rules of the road" before you go, so you don't end up unable to receive payout on a claim.

What Are Exclusions? 

Exclusions are the "buts" in your insurance policy. They typically limit a benefit when an expense is the result of a certain circumstance. They are designed to reduce the insurer's risk while still giving policyholders sufficient coverage for reasonable claims.

Insurance contracts are strictly interpreted. That means that it's tough to get around exclusions. If there's a limit in your coverage that you think might affect you, be prepared for the company to apply it. There's little chance you can negotiate around an exclusion when you make a claim, especially if there's little debate on the facts of what happened.

How Do I Know What's Excluded? 

Exclusions are clearly written in your insurance policy. Some companies also list them on their websites, so customers know when they won't be covered. If you want to know the limitations on your benefits, read the policy from beginning to end, preferrably before you buy.

Some Sample Exclusions  

Travel insurance policies usually include life, disability and health coverage. But exclusions narrow that coverage to a specific window. Here are just a few examples, which may or may not apply to your travel insurance:

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions 

In general your insurer wants to know that your health is stable before you leave for your trip. Your policy therefore may exclude coverage for claims that arise as the result of a pre-existing condition, if that condition has not been stable for a certain period of time. Depending on your policy, the insurer may want to see indication of stability for 90 or 180 days.

High-Risk Activities 

If you are an adventure traveler, you should read your policy closely. Your medical coverage may not apply if you have been injured as the result of an excluded activity. That may include things like mountain climbing, stunt activities, motorized speed contests, or space tourism. That last one may sound unlikely, but it's shown up in actual Canadian insurance policies as an exclusion.

War or Acts of Terrorism 

It may sound surprising, but your insurance may not cover you if you get caught up in a war or the aftermath of an act of terrorism. Sometimes, you may have coverage if the Canadian government issued a travel advisory after you purchased the insurance. But if you voluntarily go to a dangerous area, you may be on your own.

Use of Alcohol or Drugs 

If your use of alcohol or drugs leads to a medical condition for which you require treatment, your insurance may not cover you. While these activities may not invalidate all of your insurance, they may stop you from getting reimbursement for the resulting hospitalization.

How to Make Sure You're Covered Before You Go 

There are many exclusions, but there are even more benefits to purchasing travel insurance. For the best rates and options for the most comprehensive plans, visit Insurance Hotline today.