What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?

So, you've decided to purchase travel insurance for your upcoming trip. You know that travel insurance offers coverage for baggage loss or emergency medical care -- but is that all? Or isn't it? Do you need unique add-ons? What isn't covered? Navigating travel insurance's ins and outs can feel daunting, so let's break it down to what generally isn't covered.  

 

Understanding Coverage Limits 

Travel insurance typically covers emergency evacuation, medical repatriation, and trip cancellations, according to the plan documents. In addition to these basics, you can reasonably expect the following benefits:  

Travel insurance “coverage limits” are put in place for each benefit, and they vary based on policy type. For example, AXA’s Silver Plan has a coverage limit of $25,000 in emergency accident and sickness medical expense coverage and $200 reimbursement for baggage delays. The Gold Plan has higher coverage limits ($100,000 for emergency accidents and sickness and $300 for baggage delays). What your insurance does and doesn’t cover will rely a bit on this coverage limit.  

Travel Insurance Exclusions and Limitations 

Even if you have travel insurance, it’s important to know that not every situation is coverable. Here are some of the most common insurance exclusions to be aware of:  

  • Pre-existing medical conditions 
  • Expected storms and natural disasters  
  • Disease outbreaks  
  • Dangerous activities like skydiving or jet skiing  
  • Medical tourism, where you travel abroad to get a medical procedure or treatment, like cosmetic or other elective surgery.  
  • Activities involving drinking or drugs   
  • Baggage stolen while left unattended 
  • Pregnancy or childbirth-related complications 
  • Routine dental cleanings and procedures 
  • Certain things not explicitly addressed in the policy 

*This is not an exhaustive list of typical non-covered items.  

Remember that every travel insurance policy is different. So, to find out what’s not covered under your travel insurance policy, always read the terms and conditions of the policy and reach out to the carrier for any questions or concerns.  

Before purchasing a plan, ask for a layout of all the plan benefits, and always ask for clarification as needed – travel insurance jargon can sometimes be confusing. Doing so will increase your level of confidence and put you in the best position to make the best decision for your travel coverage needs. 

 

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Medical Exclusions 

When it comes to travel medical insurance exclusions, pre-existing conditions top the list. Pre-existing conditions are health problems that existed before your travel insurance plan’s effective date. In the case of AXA Travel Insurance, the term refers to any illness, disease, or condition you (or a traveling companion) had within 60 days of your plan’s effective date. Some of the most common pre-existing conditions include asthma, cancer, and diabetes.  

Though some travel insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions across the board, that’s not the case with AXA Travel Insurance. Some AXA travel protection plans allow coverage for these conditions as long as you purchase Pre-Existing Medical Coverage within 14 days of your initial trip deposit date.  

If you have a pre-existing condition and don’t have travel medical coverage, you’d be on the hook for any medical expenses you incur because of that pre-existing condition. This means that you will not be reimbursed.   

To ensure you’ve got enough coverage for medical emergencies, adequately assess your risk tolerance and the overall cost of your trip.  

Travel-Related Exclusions 

Travel-related delays, cancellations, and interruptions are common, but they may not always be covered. Travel insurance is designed to protect you in the case of unexpected situations – unexpected storms and natural disasters are often included. But you can’t expect payouts for expenses or inconveniences related to a storm or natural disaster that has been forecasted. The length of the forecast and its coverage options will be limited to each plan, so make sure you confirm with your agent what's covered. 

AXA Travel Insurance offers trip cancellation coverage for unforeseen weather conditions that interrupt your trip for 48 consecutive hours or make your lodging uninhabitable.  

Adventure and Sports Activities 

You may be planning on trying some memorable activities, like skydiving, parachuting, parasailing, jet skiing, hiking, or sports on your next trip. As routine as some of these activities may be on vacation, travel insurance may not cover them.  

You will usually have to sign a liability waiver to participate in such activities, but that is different from "travel insurance," which reimburses you for injuries you incurred while participating in said activity.  

Even activities that may appear calm and safe can result in serious injury. If you want concrete information on coverage, carefully read the terms and conditions of the plan you are considering. If anything is unclear, reach out for clarification.  

AXA Travel Insurance provides golfing and sports equipment rental coverage through the Platinum Plan.  

If you plan on partaking in risky activities, take the following steps first:  

  1. Assess whether you are comfortable with the risk.  
  2. Take all recommended safety procedures to protect yourself.  
  3. Refer to the terms and conditions of your travel insurance plan to verify your benefits.   

Note: Medical tourism is when you visit a foreign country for a medical procedure or treatment. Due to the inherent risks associated with medical procedures, medical tourism is considered risky behavior and is generally not covered by travel insurance.  

Baggage: Personal Belongings and Valuables 

Travel insurance typically covers the loss, delay, or theft of personal belongings and valuables like baggage, clothing, jewelry, toiletry items, and more. Benefits are offered via reimbursement of funds up to a specified amount, such as $750 total over the policy term or $100 per day that your baggage is missing or delayed. Specific benefits depend on the policy. Here are some items typically excluded from coverage:  

  • Items left unattended
  • Items over the maximum benefit limit 
  • Items lost during illegal or high-risk activities 

You can protect your belongings while traveling by keeping them out of sight, using hotel safes, if available, and locking your luggage with your own padlock when unattended. It also helps keep valuables, including medication, in your carry-on instead of your checked baggage if your baggage is lost or delayed.  

Acts of Terrorism, War, or Civil Unrest 

Terrorism, war, and civil unrest sit in a gray area when it comes to travel insurance inclusions and exclusions. Some policies will cover trip cancellation and interruption related to such situations, while others exclude these benefits.  

You’re more likely to be met with a denial if you’re traveling to an area with a current travel advisory or warning. But be sure to defer to your plan’s terms and conditions.  

When traveling to areas with higher geopolitical risks, be sure to speak with a travel insurance agent to see if specialized travel policies are available. Aside from that, go to the U.S. travel advisory page to learn more about your destination and any associated risks. Do not forget to save any emergency numbers and designate a safe place (rendezvous point) for you and others traveling with you. If you are purchasing travel insurance from AXA, please review our Terms and Conditions to learn more about coverage for specific countries.  

Knowledge is Power 

You no longer have to ask yourself, “what does travel insurance not cover?” The best way to find out is to thoroughly read through the terms and conditions of travel insurance policies. If you get tripped up by insurance terms or unclear language, always reach out for help. Feel free to consult with AXA Travel Insurance or agents for personalized guidance on selecting the appropriate coverage for your travel needs.  

FAQ 

Can I go to different countries with one insurance plan? 

With AXA Travel Insurance, you can go to different countries on one travel insurance plan.  
But you should disclose all the countries you will be visiting upfront.  

Can I buy travel insurance after booking a flight? 

Yes, you can buy travel insurance after booking your flight. But remember that it’s best to get your policy immediately after paying your first trip deposit. Doing so gives you the most financial protection should things go wrong before you board the plane. Learn more here.  

Can I buy travel insurance (while abroad?)/during my trip? 

Yes, you can buy travel insurance while abroad, but you cannot purchase a travel insurance plan once your trip has already started. 

Sources 

4 ways to stay safe from geopolitical turmoil when business traveling ... Inc.com. (n.d.). https://www.inc.com/john-discala/4-ways-to-stay-safe-from-geopolitical-turmoil-when-business-traveling.html  

Metz, J. (2024, January 10). What travel insurance does not cover. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/travel-insurance/will-never-cover-this/  

Travel insurance: Travel medical insurance: AXA Partners US. AXA Travel Insurance. (n.d.). https://www.axatravelinsurance.com/  

What does travel insurance not cover? Travel Insurance Made Simple - Quote, Compare and Buy Online. (n.d.). https://www.generalitravelinsurance.com/travel-resources/not-covered.html  

What is a high-risk activity according to travel insurance? FocusPoint. (n.d.). https://www.focuspointintl.com/trending/travel-and-leisure/what-is-a-high-risk-activity-according-to-travel-insurance/   
  

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