Medical waiver requires full coverage

By Edna R.S. Alvarez
This item appears on page 15 of the May 2019 issue.

In the letter “Tips on Booking Hotels and on Insurance” (March ’19, pg. 14), a subscriber wrote, regarding travel insurance, “I used to purchase insurance on every air ticket; the airlines made it so convenient. Then one day I realized that I rarely cancel or change flights, so I would only be on the hook for the amount of the cancellation penalty that the airline would charge. The rest of the value would be available to me as a credit toward a future flight. Now I only insure the amount of the cancellation penalty, not the entire value of the tickets.”

At some point during my many years of travel and of purchasing travel insurance, I decided (like the above-mentioned subscriber) that I would only insure my anticipated losses, not the full cost of the trip. Airfare was a good example, as any loss would only be, say, $500 for the ticket-change fee, but the rest of the ticket cost would be held for me to book within, usually, a year. This seemed great.

Recently, while talking to an agent about purchasing a travel insurance policy, I was informed that the policy I was considering would not cover a loss caused by a preexisting medical condition unless I bought coverage for the full cost of the trip, including all of the airfare (not just the ticket-change-fee amount). I was informed that this did NOT apply to all policies, however. Since then, I have always checked.

I am 80, so I consider a waiver of preexisting medical conditions to be critical in any travel insurance policy. Whether or not the policy I am considering requires that I cover the full cost of the trip for the waiver to remain in effect is one of the checklist items I inquire about when purchasing travel insurance.


Los Angeles, CA