On almost every family vacation we’ve taken, we’ve used our travel insurance to cover a medical expense.
I’m not exaggerating.
Maybe we’re a little more accident-prone or unlucky than most–but either way–when we get home, after filling out a few complicated forms and photocopying a gazillion recipts, we’re reimbursed for the expenses we usually have to pay up front.
The most we’ve had to pay (up front) is a few hundred dollars. Not $1,000,000, like Jennifer Huculak and her husband Darren Kimmel from Humboldt, Saskatchewan.
The Huculak-Kimmels did everything I recommend doing for those hoping to travel or take a “Babymoon” before becoming parents.
I did the same as Jennifer when I traveled at 24 weeks in my first pregnancy to a family wedding in Alberta. I confirmed with our travel insurance provider that we’d be covered (I had coverage through my then-employer’s plan), consulted with my doctor and had her prepare a letter stating I was fine to travel, and then flew to Calgary and attended the wedding in Edmonton and traveled around Alberta and had a great trip.
Nobody batted an eye about me traveling 3000km away from home while six months pregnant.
For an article on travel mishaps and emergencies that I wrote for Canadian Family magazine a few years’ back, the words of the insurance expert I interviewed, Sushil Masih, still resonate:
You may already have travel medical coverage through your work benefits plan or credit card but it’s important to know exactly what is and isn’t covered, says Masih, who recommends everyone travelling outside of Canada have at least emergency medical insurance.
“You should ask: Does this coverage pay expenses up front or are you reimbursed later? Does it cover all family members or travel companions travelling with you? Is there a limit to the number of days per trip, and can you purchase top-up coverage without loss of coverage, if you plan to travel longer than the maximum covered? For credit card coverage, you may need to pay for all or a portion of your trip on the card for the coverage to be valid.”
Lastly, he says, read the fine print and pay particular attention to the exclusions, limitations and conditions.
The Huculak-Kimmels did everything right. Even Blue Cross’ website states as much:
Blue Cross Travel Insurance: up to 32 weeks
Pregnancy isn’t an illness but still represents a risk of complications. Blue Cross covers the risk related to pregnancy up to the 32nd week. Pregnancy and its complications are NOT covered during the 8 weeks preceding the due date of the child. Always consult your doctor before investing any money in travel arrangements.
Health prevention for air travel during pregnancy
Advise your doctor that you plan on taking a trip by air transportation. Depending on the progression of your pregnancy, an ultrasound test may be necessary to verify the development, position and viability of the foetus. This is especially important if there is a history of extra uterine pregnancy or miscarriage.
If your doctor declares that you are fit to fly, it must be noted that:
1. Travel sickness symptoms can be stronger for some women during pregnancy. If you suffer from travel sickness when you are not pregnant, advise your doctor to get help to prevent symptoms.
2. Immobility increases risks of deep vein phlebitis. The risk is higher for pregnant women up to 6 weeks after giving birth. Support hose or tights help blood circulation to prevent blood clot.
3. Moving during the flight is essential: stretch your legs, stand up and walk regularly.
4. Pregnant women must remain hydrated: drink plenty of fluids, either water or fruit juice.
If your doctor fears a risk of a miscarriage or advises you not to travel – whatever the reason – avoid travelling at all costs. Not only would you pose a risk to yourself and your unborn child, you would also not be covered by insurance for any accident or illness related to your pregnancy.
I will add that Blue Cross has modified this page since I first looked at it earlier today. I’ll post a screenshot if I can…
So what to do? Never leave the house when you’re pregnant? Obviously not, and I’m sure very soon the Huculak-Kimmels’ situation will be sorted out. The $1M probably seems like a drop in the bucket to Blue Cross now compared to the damage their brand is receiving via all the negative publicity.
But travel insurance is important.
Please don’t be deterred from either travel when you’re pregnant OR purchasing travel insurance if you’re considering a little jaunt before baby arrives.
Tips for Travel Insurance Pregnancy Coverage:
– check and double check your policy to ensure that you and your baby are covered, and will be covered should an emergency arise. Be extra vigilant with policies provided by your credit card company, and if you’re covered by your employer, notify them of your impending trip and ensure the pregnancy and your baby are covered
– make sure you have a copy of your travel insurance policy on hand, with the relevant phone and contact numbers highlighted
– prior to your trip, confirm with your doctor that it’s safe for you to travel, and have him/her put it in writing
– be aware of the medical facilities that are closest to where you’re staying, and double check that they’re approved service providers for your insurer
– if you purchase a “family” policy, ensure that it covers all members of your family. Infants aged 2 and under are usually included free of charge
– notify your insurer IMMEDIATELY if you experience a medical emergency. Of course your first call should be 911 or the appropriate medical emergency service, then call your insurer to determine next steps
Do you have a POSITIVE travel insurance story? Please share in the comments below!