Top Reasons Travel Insurance Claims are Delayed or Denied

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 50 of the October 2018 issue.

I would like to share valuable information recently supplied by two travel insurance sources.

First up is a table of advice from InsureMyTrip (800/487-4722, www.insuremytrip) to which I have added some information and tips of my own [in italics — Editor].

Top Reasons Travel Insurance Claims are Delayed or Denied

Reason for canceling a trip is not covered under policy. Review the policy with a licensed travel insurance expert prior to purchase. Check covered perils and exclusions.
Preexisting medical condition not covered under policy. Request a plan that includes a preexisting-medical-conditions waiver. This is a benefit that is available when all eligibility requirements are met.   

(Many insurance plans will not reimburse for a problem involving a preexisting medical condition. Try to buy a plan that has a preexisting-condition waiver. Note that insurance policies with this waiver must be purchased right after trip arrangements are first purchased, such as within two weeks or sometimes even two days after the down payment is made on the tour.)

Failed to meet definition of being sick or injured under policy terms. Ask a physician to provide insurance company with details about treatment, medical conditions and prognosis. Read policy for specifics on what may qualify as an illness or injury.
Does not meet required time frame for a flight delay. Review policy with a licensed travel insurance expert prior to purchase for clarification on benefits. A travel delay must be for a certain number of hours and varies by plan.
Missed paperwork, inaccurate information, or wrong claim form submitted. Follow instructions on the claim form and forward all requested documentation. Contact the travel insurance company immediately after an issue arises. (Your policy will have an emergency phone number for your use.) Save all paperwork related for the trip. (Get all paperwork in English, if possible.) Expect to provide receipts and a complete travel itinerary for any claim. Claims typically take a minimum of 30 days to process.
Failed to seek medical treatment after becoming ill or injured during a trip. Seek treatment prior to returning home and save all documentation. (If you want the insurance company to reimburse you for the expenses of a portion of a tour that you end up missing, you must have a medical professional confirm that you are unable to continue. Self diagnosis does not count.)

Read your policy. Understand the principal issues. Most policies allow you to cancel them, usually within 48 hours, if you are not satisfied with the contents.

Next up is an item from the online travel-insurance broker Squaremouth (800/240-0369,

3 Things You Don't Know About Travel Insurance Coverage for Wildfires But Should

1. Cause of the fire determines coverage

Most Trip Cancellation-style travel insurance policies will reimburse you if a natural disaster, such as a wildfire, prevents you from taking your trip as planned. However, travelers may not be aware that the original cause of the fire can dictate if this coverage is available.

In general, travel insurance policies consider a "natural disaster" to be something that occurred "due to natural causes," meaning if arson or other human error is to blame, the event may not be considered a "natural disaster" and coverage may not be available at all.

An example of this is the recent Carr Fire in California that was reportedly caused by a car's flat tire. This determination could nullify travel insurance coverage, depending on the specific insurance provider's definition of a natural disaster.

2. Cutoff date for getting coverage can be complicated

In order to have travel insurance coverage for any event, a policy must be purchased before the event occurs. Unfortunately, for natural disasters like wildfires and for other events under investigation, it can be difficult to pinpoint the date each first occurred.

As a general rule, travelers should remember that by the time an event is in the news and commonly known, it is too late to buy a travel insurance policy for any coverage related to that event.

3. Coverage available if home is in danger

Most travelers associate travel insurance coverage with a problem at their destination, however most don't know coverage can be available if your home is affected.

Most Trip Cancellation-style policies cover travelers whose residence becomes uninhabitable or inaccessible by a natural disaster, such as a wildfire. This benefit covers the cost for the travelers to cancel their trip or to return home early, as well as any unusual expenses due to the early return.

Readers with questions are welcome to write to Wayne Wirtanen, 4341 Shangri-la Lane, Placerville, CA 95667; call 530/644-1084, or email An index of all of Wayne's travel insurance articles is at