9 easy ways to invalidate your travel insurance

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is as important for a vacation as flights and accommodation are. Source: Shutterstock

THE AGE OLD saying goes, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”

Travel insurance covers you in medical emergencies and gives you leverage to claim money back for canceled flights, lost luggage, or if you’re a victim of theft.

However, comprehensive travel insurance policies are contingent on the policyholder behaving safely, telling the truth, and not purposefully putting themselves in danger.

The travel insurance company has the right to deny your claim for a multitude of reasons.

Yet, many people believe once the insurance confirmation e-mail comes through, they’re covered no matter what, which is why reading the small print that explains all the ways travel insurance can be invalidated is essential.

Some examples of how to void your travel insurance might seem obvious, but did you know a vacation booked on air miles and hotel points might not be covered?

Here are nine ways you could invalidate your travel insurance policy:

Activity exclusions

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Often, insurers sneak an “extreme activities” clause into a policy and partaking in the activities included in the clause could invalidate your insurance.

These activities can include sports such as skydiving and bungee jumping, which are popular among younger travelers.

But even venturing on risky mountain treks and cycling trails could exempt you from being covered.

There are travel insurance companies which specialize in extreme sports cover but you still need to read the small print.

Getting excessively drunk

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Buried within most policies is a little clause which exempts insurers from having to pay out if the claimant has been drinking.

If you get wildly drunk or even just consume one unit in some cases, then hurt yourself or lose your possessions, your travel insurers could deny your claim.

But how can they prove you were a drunken mess?

A toxicology report from the hospital if you sought medical treatment is one way and some insurers have even been known to check social media for drunken behavior, but this doesn’t have much bearing on your claim.

Your word is not good enough

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Simply telling your insurer that your Apple Mac, iPod, Rolex and Leica Q camera have been stolen won’t work.

In the case of a theft while abroad, you’ll need to file a police report within 48 hours.

Give the police as much detail about the theft and descriptively list all the items that have been stolen. Make sure you get a copy of this report for your insurer.

However, be aware that if you’ve been reckless with your possessions and chosen not to lock them away or left them on the table in a busy bar, your insurer could deny the claim under a “lack of reasonable care” clause.

Visiting a dangerous destination

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If you buy travel insurance under the false pretense that you’re going to a safe destination and then end up visiting Syria, Iraq or Yemen, for example, your travel insurance could and most probably will be void.

There are travel insurance companies which provide “high-risk” insurance for those with hazardous jobs such as journalists, filmmakers, teachers, charity workers, aid workers, and engineers.

They also cover those with a fondness for dark tourism.

You’ll undoubtedly end up paying a premium price for high-risk travel insurance, but it’s essential.

Hiding existing medical conditions

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If you buy car insurance and say your vehicle is always parked in a secure garage when actually it’s parked three streets away and then it gets stolen, your insurance is invalid.

The same rule applies to travel insurance when it comes to health.

If you hide a pre-existing medical condition from an insurer, your policy could be invalid.

This could be anything from cardiac conditions such as angina to mental health issues. It’s always best to tell the insurer the truth.

Paid-for-by-points vacations

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If you’re finally exchanging those thousands of air miles or hotel points for a vacation, ask your insurer if they cover paid-for-by-points trips.

Many won’t, but again there are specific companies who specialize in point-scheme vacations. These insurers can reimburse your points in the event of cancelation.

Financial failure

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Most airlines offer a compensation scheme for majorly delayed or canceled flights and your travel insurance policy should also cover this.

However, if an airline goes bust before you fly or during your vacation, you might find yourself reaching into your own pocket for new flights.

Before you leave, ask your insurer outright if airline financial failure is covered in your policy and if not, how much more you would need to pay to make sure you don’t miss out on a vacation.

Natural disasters

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The most basic travel insurance policies won’t cover natural disasters.

Definitions of natural disasters also differ between travel insurance companies making it even more difficult to know what you’re covered for.

Most commonly they include floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, blizzards, or avalanches that can be attributed to natural causes.

There are higher-priced policies that will cover these events. However, even premium plans could be voided if the disaster has already been forecasted or happened.

If the hurricane has already been named, a volcano has already erupted, or fire is already blazing, your insurer could choose not to cover you as you would be traveling to a dangerous destination.

Reckless or illegal behavior

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Whether your reckless or illegal behavior is induced by alcohol or something else, you risk invalidating your travel insurance policy and waving goodbye to claiming back medical expenses.

The definition of reckless behavior can be anything from swimming outside of allocated pool opening times to taking narcotics and then deciding getting a back alley tattoo is a good idea.

The definition of illegal behavior should be self-explanatory, but if you’re unsure of the laws in your destination, just Google.

The easiest way to make sure you’re covered for all eventualities is by reading the terms and conditions of the policy and double checking with an advisor over the phone.