Don’t Cancel for Your Own Medical Reasons If You’re Not Ill or Injured

by admin on March 6, 2020

Just so no one misunderstands what I write about the Coronavirus, I need to say this upfront: The Coronavirus threat is real. Unfortunately, thanks to the fear and the lack of accurate information, lots of travelers are contemplating cancelling upcoming trips that they have insured.

Check out my regularly updated page about Travel Insurance and the Coronavirus including Questions & Answers

A common reason to cancel your trip is you, a close family member or a traveling companion unexpectedly gets ill or injured before you leave. If a traveler is currently ill or injured, their doctor must be consulting with a licensed doctor who tells them they cannot travel because their current illness or injury is so disabling that they cannot travel. Your illness or injury will have to be substantiated with medical records. Prior to the Coronavirus overwhelming medical facilities you had to see the doctor in person. The companies have become more flexible.

This is a common Trip Cancellation benefit description:
Sickness or Injury, which: a) occurs before departure on Your Trip, b) Medical Treatment at the time of cancellation resulting in medically imposed restrictions, as certified by a Legally Qualified Physician, and c) and prevents Your participation in the Trip.

However, what is now happening is that many people want to cancel, for the Coronavirus, that are not currently ill or injured. They might discover that they are in a high-risk group. Or a medical professional may suggest they reconsider their trip. If you want to scare yourself, take a look at these from the CDC:

Here are some recent conversations I have had. Deanna, Becky, Kim and I have a lot more stories, but I think you will get the gist of this. We are happy to answer all questions you have. And, if you think you have to cancel your trip, call us so we can make sure you do what needs to be done to have a successful claim. Or to save you from making a mistake with a claim. We will even tell you not to buy a policy if it won’t cover you.

I got this email:

My doctor has advised me not to travel on my upcoming trip to Italy followed by a Mediterranean cruise, which is covered by policy _____. This is what he wrote in the letter: “Please excuse my patient ____ from flying and traveling via ship because of her lumbar spine stenosis. She suffers from intermittent back pain radiating to the leg.” Do you think this will be sufficient to make a claim on the insurance?

I asked “Are you ill? Did you have some kind of medical emergency that will force you to have to cancel your trip?”. “No, this is a chronic problem that is acting up.”.

Here’s another email:

I am going to a destination where someone has already been diagnosed with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. My doctor is telling me that I should not go there because the risk to my health is too great. Wlll I be covered if I cancel my trip?” My doctor wrote this:
“Mr. ____ has a history of immune deficiency, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, coronary stent, diabetes and aortic valve replacement. He is currently experiencing chest pain and is undergoing a workup for his symptoms. The ____’s were supposed to travel on a cruise and I have advised them to cancel their intended cruise, as it would be unsafe for him to be far away from his doctors and a hospital. Kindly refund them any payments paid for this trip as I have advised them to cancel for medical reasons.”

I wrote back saying “If you file a claim, will your medical records back this up that your medical condition has taken a turn for the worse? I can’t say precisely if a trip cancellation claim would be paid with this letter, but in my opinion, it would not because the doctor doesn’t say exactly what the medical reasons are. If there were results from the workup showing your condition has taken a turn for the worse and requires you to cancel, then that’s a different situation from where you are today.” I emailed him the specific policy wording.

Someone told me this in a phone call:

My Dad is in hospice and his condition is worsening. I need to cancel my European river cruise that is 5 weeks from now.

I asked this: “If the Coronavirus wasn’t happening, would you cancel your trip today because of your Dad’s health?” She said “No”. I told her “It’s unlikely your claim will be paid.” I suggested she find out from her Dad’s doctors if he is close to passing. If so, that could be a covered reason to cause her to cancel.

I was told this in a phone call:

“I am in one of the high-risk groups that the CDC is saying should not travel to Japan. Will my policy cover me? My tour operator hasn’t cancelled the trip.”

I asked “Are you ill? Did you have some kind of medical emergency that will force you have to cancel your trip?”. He said “No. I’m fine, but my wife and I are in the high-risk groups and we don’t think it’s safe to go to Japan.”

As you might imagine, the conversation went downhill when I pointed out that the CDC was not telling people to cancel their trips. They were only recommending that all travelers “reconsider” or “consider postponing nonessential travel”.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself this question: “If the Coronavirus wasn’t happening, would I cancel my trip today?”

If the answer is “No”, then don’t cancel your trip today because it’s unlikely you will be able to prove it it is a covered claim.

I hope this made sense.

Steve, Thanks for the advice the other day about CFAR and my April flight. Each time I talk to you, you give me a nugget of information that I wouldn’t have known or considered otherwise. I appreciate how you handle your customer’s business like it was your own by making sure they are informed and they are considering the appropriate insurance for their trip. You are always watching out for the customer and not the sale. With that mindset and the variety of insights you share, I will always come to you rather than directly to one of the suppliers. I tell my friends so that they can get the same great service. Thanks again for being so upfront with a topic that can be confusing to those that aren’t in the business. Best Regards, Kirsten, Bend, OR

If you have any questions about travel insurance, call us at 1-888-407-3854 or email Steve (me), The Travel Insurance Guru, here or using steve [at] tripinsurancestore dot com. If we don’t answer the phones live, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible including responding to emails.

I hope this makes sense. If you want the right travel insurance advice, call us at 1-888-407-3854 and we'll help you figure it all out.

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