The Good, The Bad, And The Unusual

Occasionally we run across a plan feature that is unusual enough to merit special mention. These can be good or bad but either way they deserve to be pointed out. We'll add more as we find them. Note that these are accurate as of the date they are posted but things change so quickely be sure to check. And, as always be sure to check your state's exceptions.

If you are planning on traveling with a service animal and you want to be able to cancel of interrupt the trip if the animal is sick or injured several of the Allianz plans include service animals in their definition of a "family member".

Family member Any of the following people, whether or not they're traveling with you : . . .
service animals (as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act)"

Be aware of what's missing in Allianz's Missed Connection coverage. What if the reason your flight is delayed because of a mechanical problem or FAA situation?

Missed connection
When it applies:

You miss your connecting flight or cruise for one of the following covered reasons :
you're involved in or delayed by a traffic accident
severe weather cancels one of your flights en route to the connection or cruise, or delays it for at least three hours"

Compare that to the following from another insurer:

Missed Connection: If You miss Your cruise or tour departure because Your arrival at Your Trip destination is delayed for 3 or more hours, benefits will be paid, on a one-time basis, up to the Maximum Benefit Amount, for a) the Additional Transportation Cost to join the Trip and b) the unused portion of the prepaid expenses for land or water Travel Arrangements, due to: a) any delay of a Common Carrier (the delay must be certified by the Common Carrier); b) a documented weather condition preventing You from getting to the point of departure; c) quarantine, hijacking, Strike, natural disaster, terrorism or riot."

Allianz and some of the Travel Insured plans have the most flexible pregnancy coverage. Most will only let you cancel if you have an unforeseeable complication of the pregnancy. These let you cancel just because you became pregnant.

You become pregnant ( trip cancellation coverage only )."

And the following can be useful also. Note that the definition of “immediate family member" is more restrictive than their usual definition of “family member".

You need to attend the birth of an immediate family member's child ( trip cancellation coverage only )"

And some of the Allianz plans also offer the following which hopefully won't be of concern to you but you never know:

Legal separation or divorce
You or a traveling companion legally separate or divorce after your plan's effective date but before your scheduled departure date."

AMEX Global Travel Shield: The following is interesting in that states that you are covered for trip cancellation for “unexpected or unintended circumstances" as defined. The problem is in the vagueness of the definition: “outside the Covered Person's control and reasonably and substantially impair the Covered Person's ability to travel." What's “reasonable" and “substantial" is certainly open to a wide range of interpretations. Great in theory, possibly less so in the application.

3) Unexpected or unintended circumstances, which are those events or consequences that could not have been reasonably foreseen or expected by the Covered Person, are outside the Covered Person's control and reasonably and substantially impair the Covered Person's ability to travel. These circumstances must be other than injury, illness, disease, death, Financial Default or any coverage exclusion."

While most plans include cancellation coverage due to layoffs many limit this benefit to full time, permanent employees. If you're a part-time employee this might help.

11) Unforeseeable, unintended or unexpected termination or layoff of employment by a Covered Person's employer provided the Covered Person was continuously employed by the employer as a full or part-time permanent employee for two years prior to the termination or layoff;"

If your kid's school district might have the school year extended (weather, strikes, etc) and if this might disrupt your travel plans keep the following in mind from the CSA Custom plan (and several others):

l. the primary or secondary school where you or your traveling Family Member or Traveling Companion attend(s) must extend its operating session beyond its predefined school year, due to unforeseeable events commencing during the policy effective period, which cause the extension of the predefined school year and the travel dates for the Covered Trip fall within the period of the school year extension. Extensions due to extra-curricular or athletic events are not covered;"

Many plans will only cover loss of a previously-approved leave for service members in cases of things like natural disasters and they specifically exclude coverage if this is due to war. If you're a service member keep this in mind. From Global Alert::

m) Revocation of Your previously granted leave or reassignment due to war. Official written revocation/ re-assignment by a supervisor or commanding officer of the appropriate branch of service will be required;"

To compare, this is from another insurer:

j. You or Your Traveling Companion is in the Military and called to emergency duty for a national disaster other than war;

Because some plans include the following and others don't, those of the Christian Science faith should be sure to always check the plan's definition of “physician" or Doctor". From Global Aler and several otherst:

"Legally Qualified Physician" means a physician or a Christian Science Practitioner: (a) other than You, a Traveling Companion or a Family Member; (b) practicing within the scope of his/her license; and (c) recognized as a physician in the place where the services are rendered. “

The US is still a nation of immigrants and many might have close family members residing outside of North America. If this situation applies to you and you want to have the ability to cancel or interrupt your trip due to a medical emergency affecting one of them be sure to read the definition of “family member" and check for the following which is found in many plans:

Family Member means: legal spouse or common-law spouse (where legal), legal guardian, legal ward, son or daughter (adopted, foster, step or in-law), brother or sister (includes step or in-law), parent (includes step or in-law), grandparent (includes in-law), great-grandparent, grandchild, great-grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or Key Person provided such Family Member resides in the United States, Canada or Mexico.

John Hancock and several others include a “key person" in their definition of “family member". This can be very important for those that need professional help to care for a dependent and if that person gets sick you may have to cancel your trip. Some plans require that this person actually reside with you, this plan does not:

Key Person means 1) an employed caregiver of Your legal dependent; or 2) a person to whom You are not married and with whom You have cohabited for 12 continuous months.

By comparison this is the “family member" definition from another plan:

. . . grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, Domestic Partner, an employed caregiver who lives with You, . . .

Almost all plans provide coverage if your trip is disrupted by a strike. If you're planning a trip to one of those many countries that seem to always have some sort of general strike going on be sure to check the definition of a "strike" and watch out for how they handle general strikes. Not all have the following limitation:

"Organized Labor Strike means any stoppage of work:
1) as a result of the combined effect of workers which was unannounced and unpublished at the time coverage under the Policy was purchased; and
2) that interferes with the normal departure and arrival of a Common Carrier.
It does not include a general strike whereby all or most of the workers of a country, province, state, city or town cease work."

travel insurance basics