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Travel Insurance: Learning from the Million Dollar Baby

January 14, 2015

By now, most people have heard the story of Jennifer Hucuulak-Kimmel. She and her husband travelled to Hawaii on October 27, 2013, while Jennifer was 24 weeks pregnant. The couple purchased travel insurance from Blue Cross on October 26, 2013.

Two days after arrival, Jennifer’s water broke and she was hospitalized. On December 10, 2013, after weeks of doctor ordered bed rest, baby Reece was born by caesarean section.

Upon arriving home, the couple received a bill for their hospital stay of nearly $1,000,000.00 USD. Their insurer, Blue Cross, denied the couple’s claim.

While we do not know the specific reasons for the denial, denials for pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy) are not uncommon. Insurance in these cases is often purchased online or over the phone without a full understanding of the policy.

In order to avoid complications and potential denials, there are several steps that can be taken to help ensure that your travel insurance claim will not be denied.

– Do not buy your travel insurance online: Online service providers are designed to be a “one size fits all” type of policy, which does not help if you have a potentially difficult medical past (or future).

– Purchase insurance through an insurance broker: they can help find the right policy and could also be legally responsible if they fail to provide you with an appropriate policy.

– Consider providing your medical records to your insurance broker weeks or months in advance of your trip, so that an insurer can clear you before going on vacation.

While these suggestions may seem inconvenient or time consuming, a little preparation could go a long way in dealing with insurance issues before they arise.

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