How Does Travel Insurance Cover You If a Parent Is Sick?

shutterstock_11366608Covering trip cancellation or trip interruption due to medical issues of an aging parent is the most common reason why people buy travel insurance. A very common question we hear is: “I have an aging and sick parent. I’m thinking of buying travel insurance because I may have to return home from a trip if my parent gets worse. Under which circumstances will I—or won’t I—be covered?”

It’s actually a great question to ask if you or your spouse has one or more parents with health issues. This is because there is no simple “yes” or “no” answer and, if you have a sick parent or in-law, it’s critical to know your options. Most policies use the exact same coverage terms for both trip cancellation and trip interruption.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind:

  1. If your parent is ill but in a stable condition when you purchase the insurance, then you will most likely be covered. A stable medical condition is one in which the doctor is treating your parent for a problem but no change in the condition warrants a change in medical plan or prescription drugs in the 90 days before you bought the policy. You might believe it’s unlikely that your parent’s health will seriously deteriorate when you are on vacation, but you want to make sure you are covered in case you have to return home.
  2. If your parent is in palliative care, such as hospice, when you purchase the insurance and their condition gets worse  the insurance company won’t cover a trip cancellation or trip interruption claim. They will consider this a known risk because your parent was already in hospice at the time and their medical condition is not expected to improve. If, however, your parent dies in hospice care, this will generally be covered for both trip cancellation and trip interruption because death is always treated as a “dramatic downturn in health.”
  3. A pre-existing conditions waiver in your policy may only apply to travelers and not to family members back home. Some policies offer the pre-existing conditions waiver to both the travelers and the family members, and some restrict it to just the travelers. You need to check the actual language in the policy regarding pre-existing conditions. If your parent has been treated for a medical condition in the 90 days prior to your purchasing the policy, then the condition could be considered a known risk when you bought the policy. As such, it could be considered pre-existing and potentially not covered. If the plan does apply a pre-existing condition waiver to all parties, then purchasing the policy within 14 days of your initial trip deposit so you can get this waiver is the best option.
  4. In-laws are considered parents. Recently, a woman looking into this coverage told me that her husband would be traveling and that her parent was seriously ill. If her parent became worse or died and her husband had to return home, she asked, could he receive trip interruption coverage? Thankfully, with every policy we offer at, the answer is “yes.” When it comes to this benefit, the in-laws of travelers are considered parents.

If you have additional questions about this subject or any issue related to trip interruption coverage, feel free to call or email us. We’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

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