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What the $1m baby tells us about medical travel insurance

medical travel insurance

A newborn with mother: priceless

Have you read the story that’s been all over the press recently about the new parents presented with a $950,000 bill for medical care in the USA? No? Well, if you are in the process of buying travel insurance, are pregnant and want to travel, are thinking about travelling without travel insurance or have any medical conditions and want to travel, it’s worth reading up a little. However, if you don’t have time, please allow us to present it to you in the briefest form.

A couple from Canada were recently handed a bill for a little over $950,000 after their daughter was born in the USA. The couple travelled to Hawaii on a two week holiday when the woman was six months pregnant. Two days into the trip her waters broke and she was flown to Honolulu where she stayed for six weeks until the baby was born by emergency C-section. The baby, which weighed just 4lbs and 7oz, was then incubated for a further two months until the family were able to return home to Canada.

That wasn’t the end of it. The couple’s travel insurance company have since refused to pay the claim, stating that the emergency was excluded from coverage under the terms of her pre-existing condition provision. They also claimed that the baby wasn’t covered by the policy.

Whether or not the decision or the bill are unfair is for another discussion. So why talk about it? The simple reason is that we want to ensure that this kind of thing never happens on our watch to our customers travelling on our policies.

How can you avoid having a ‘$1m baby’?

It’s not the kind of line we ever expected we’d have to write on this blog but needs must. The simple answer to this question is to make sure you do a few things whenever you buy travel insurance, whoever you buy it from:

  • Declare everything – you will only get cover for what you declare
  • Ask questions – your insurer should answer them. If not, call us
  • Read the small print – and if unsure, ask about it
  • Don’t take any chances – the $1m baby proves these things can happen

Don’t be afraid to declare everything, it won’t add up to as much as $1m

The more you tell us about your medical condition or conditions, the better. That way there will never be any bad surprises, for us or you. We don’t want to dispute claims but if you were to have problems when you were away due to an existing or ongoing health problem that you had failed to declare, we would have to.

In most cases we can provide cover – at a fair price - for declared medical conditions because we are medical travel insurance specialists. But if you don’t tell us about your conditions we can’t cover it. If we can’t cover you through World First, we can refer you to Travel Insurance 4 Medical, one of our brands. Failing that, we can refer you to another provider we work with closely.

The point is that paying an extra premium to cover your condition is never going to add up to $1m. So tell us everything. We’ll do our best to give you a quote to cover you at a price you can afford.

The chances are that it’ll be cheaper – a lot cheaper – than you might think.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, then ask a few more

We are here to answer your questions. So if you have any doubts about your cover just ask us, but make sure you ask us before you commit to buying a policy. If our customer service team don’t know the answer they will find out and get back to you – that’s a promise. That way you’ll be able to buy your policy with all the knowledge you need to make your holiday worry-free.

Read the small print to make sure

When you take out a policy with us we’ll provide you with a full policy wording. This will highlight exactly what is and isn’t covered by your policy. If you aren’t sure about any of it just give us a ring and we’ll talk you through it. If it turns out you are unhappy about the terms you can always cancel your policy within 14 days and we’ll refund your money. We’d rather it was that way than risk a controversial claim.

This is especially important if you intend to travel on an all-in policy you have through your bank or with a credit card or via work because one size never fits all with travel insurance. If you have any kind of medical condition and it hasn’t been declared your cover may be invalid. It’s just not worth the risk. And it’s the same with taking part in activities and sports. If it’s not in the small print, talk to your insurer. If they can’t cover it, call us.

Don’t take any chances

The $1m baby case proves that these things can and do happen, even though they are rare. SO it’s always best to get more cover than you think you might need, even if it does cost you a few pounds extra. The consequences of the unthinkable happening are just too big to ignore.

Where you stand with your pregnancy…

If you do happen to be expecting more than a great holiday, we are happy to insure you as a pregnant traveller, even if it's a multiple pregnancy, at no extra cost. We offer medical expenses cover for pregnancy and childbirth from week 0 to week 28 while you are away, as long as you have not experienced any previous complications in childbirth in the last 2 years. If you need to travel from week 29 to week 40 we can't cover you for normal childbirth or cancellation, however we will cover all medical expenses and cancellation cover if you have complications such as pre-eclampsia or an emergency Caesarean.

If you have your baby while you're away, you'll both be covered by your policy to travel home. And if you have annual travel insurance before you travel, you can add your baby to the policy when they're born.

Just keep us informed!


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