If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you probably have questions about what travel precautions to take. The good news is that it is generally considered to be safe to travel throughout most of a pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, occasional air travel is usually safe during pregnancy. Cruising, road trips, and other forms of travel are also usually safe through the second trimester.
Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead to travel, more complicated questions can arise, such as what to do if the unexpected happens while you are away from home. How do you make sure that you and your baby will be cared for and your non-refundable travel expenses will be covered if you need to cancel your trip or change your plans?
Here’s what to know about pregnancy and travel and how to make the best travel insurance choice for your situation.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you plan to travel during your pregnancy, it’s always wise to check in with your doctor in advance and consider any complications. A history of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies, an incomplete cervix, heart valve disease, a history of blood clots, and severe anemia could all complicate air travel in particular.
Once you discuss potential complications with your doctor, you will have more clarity about what type of travel is appropriate for you and what travel insurance to consider. Even if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, it’s always wise to purchase travel insurance coverage. The right coverage can protect you if you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason or experience unexpected issues during your travels.
Educate Yourself on Pre-Existing Conditions
Since babies often arrive earlier or later than their due date, you may wonder if travel insurance will cover a normal labor and delivery while you are on your trip. Typically the answer is no, though travel insurance coverage for pregnancy varies. It is essential to research your options and understand the terms and coverage, as most policies do not cover routine maternity, pregnancy or childbirth care.
The general rule is that pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy itself, are not covered by travel insurance. A pre-existing condition is usually classified as a medical condition for which you sought any treatment within a certain number of days (often between 90 to 180 days) before the policy purchase date. If you are seeing your doctor for a pregnancy related condition before your trip, travel insurance will probably not cover expenses related to that condition while you are traveling. If you experience a pregnancy related complication while traveling that is not an excluded pre-existing condition (i.e., a new illness or injury), your travel insurance policy may cover your expenses.
Specific pregnancy issues (such as unexpected complications from pregnancy) can be covered under a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver. If a plan offers a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver, the eligibility requirements of that plan must be met in order to qualify for coverage. In most cases, the eligibility requirement is purchasing the policy within 14-21 days of the initial trip payment date and insuring 100% of pre-paid and non-refundable trip costs.
As you can tell, it is critical to inquire if your particular pregnancy-related concern is covered under your travel insurance plan. If not, you may need to purchase additional coverage, such as an optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade, or make accommodations to lessen the financial risks of traveling while pregnant.
Understand Trip Cancellation Insurance for Pregnant Travelers
If you are pregnant when you buy travel insurance, can you expect to be covered if you cancel your trip due to a pregnancy related issue? The answer is dependent on your reason for cancellation. If you are already pregnant when you buy travel insurance, trip cancellation usually isn’t covered unless you cancel due to a complication that is not a considered to be a pre-existing condition. travel insurance also does not cover trip cancellation for worries about travel during pregnancy. For example, if your doctor tells you she doesn’t want you to fly close to your due date, “just in case,” your policy won’t cover the cancellation.
If you were not pregnant when you purchased your travel insurance policy, pregnancy and its related conditions may not be considered a pre-existing condition. In such a case, your policy may allow you to cancel your trip if you don’t want to travel while pregnant. It is important to check your policy when you buy to see if a future pregnancy, or certain conditions related thereto, will be a covered reason for trip cancellation.
Invest in Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance
If you are concerned about the possibility of having a pregnancy related emergency while on your trip, especially if you are traveling to a remote location, it might be worthwhile to consider purchasing emergency medical evacuation insurance. This type of insurance provides emergency transportation to the nearest adequate treatment center. Some travel insurance plans offer around $1 million in medical evacuation coverage per person.
Consider Cancel for Any Reason Coverage
Given that pregnancy is frequently not a covered reason for trip cancellation or reimbursement under a traditional travel insurance plan, you may wish to consider adding a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) upgrade to your policy. A CFAR upgrade lets you cancel your trip for any reason at all, and can reimburse you for up to 75% for your non-refundable trip costs.
There are a few requirements that accompany this type of coverage. You must insure 100% of your pre-paid and non-refundable trip costs. You are usually required to cancel your trip at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure, so make sure you plan ahead whenever possible. Your insurance provider may also require you to purchase the upgrade within 14-21 days of making your initial trip payment.
Review Your Airline’s Pregnant Flyer Guidelines
Just because you feel fine to fly doesn’t mean the airlines will agree with your decision. Before you head out for your flight, make sure you review your airline’s pregnant flier guidelines. The safest time for a woman to travel generally falls during the second trimester of her pregnancy, from 14 to 28 weeks. Every airline differs, but as a general rule, you will need an obstetrician’s certificate to fly at 36 weeks or later. Some airlines, like United, require the original certificate and two copies that say you are fit for travel.
Contact Your Hotel, Resort, or Tour Provider
It is unlikely that your hotel or resort will have specific pregnancy restrictions. You may, however, wish to check any restrictions for tours that you are interested in. Activities such as horseback riding, skydiving, and water sports may not allow participation if you are pregnant. Some tours may require that you provide a doctor’s note to participate, so make sure that you check your tour operator’s website, or give them a call, before you book.
What If You Give Birth In Another State or Country?
Your traditional health insurance may cover your medical expenses if you give birth in another state or country and your travel insurance policy may cover some non-refundable costs if you experience unexpected complications.
Some countries, like Canada, offer automatic birthright citizenship. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for expenses if you give birth across the border. A birth in Canada costs between $3,000 and $20,000 for visitors. That figure may vary depending on your travel insurance, health insurance, and type of care required.
If you do give birth while traveling, you should understand your coverage for your infant before you make the journey back home. Some travel insurance policies will automatically cover a baby born on your trip. Others may require an additional policy to be purchased for your newborn. Keep in mind that some airlines require infants to be anywhere from 2 days to a month before they’re able to fly.
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