Common Reasons Insurance Claims are Denied

Unfortunately, many travelers find themselves in financial difficulties because they did not purchase travel insurance. There is great wisdom in purchasing travel insurance, but sometimes, even though they did buy insurance, travelers unwittingly negate their insurance benefits or misunderstand what is covered. Below are some common reasons travel insurance claims are denied.

Be aware that it typically takes 30 days from reporting a claim for a final decision to be rendered by the claims adjuster.

Are you sure your policy covered you for this kind of claim?

We’re all aware of the importance of reading the fine print of contracts. But, too often, travelers don’t read their insurance plan completely. Only after a claim is denied or delayed do they realize they haven’t followed the agreement they purchased.

Travel insurance can certainly be confusing. And every policy is worded differently. Travel Insurance Claims 101 says, “check your terms and conditions.” There’s a reason behind the insurance rules, and you have to follow them.

For example, too many policyholders believe even the slightest flight delay qualifies them for a claim, when typically, a delay needs to be for three hours or more.

Another common misconception is trip cancellation due to a storm. During last year’s terrible hurricane season, insurance companies saw a large spike in claims for canceled or delayed vacations. What many vacationers found out was they weren’t covered because they waited too long to purchase their policy, or the storm’s impact wasn’t sufficient enough for a trip to be canceled.

Additionally, a cruise company or airline has to cease service due to weather for most basic coverage to be activated. The flight has to have been grounded, or your resort badly damaged. Simply being afraid to visit a destination hit by a storm, when your travel suppliers haven’t been damaged, could delay or deny your claim.

If you are really worried about hurricanes, ask for the most hurricane related coverage your provider offers, which might be ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage.

Travelers should review their policy with a licensed travel insurance expert prior to purchase and make certain they know everything about their covered perils and exclusions.

What was diagnosed by a professional, and when did you report that to the insurance company?

You may feel sick, and know you have to fly, but you don’t go to the doctor. So now you don’t have proof of your physical condition, but you’re asking an insurance company to believe you. Insurance companies need proof. Without notes from your doctor, you’re probably going to have a problem getting your claim approved.

If you are feeling sick, feeling concerned not to go on trip, call in advance to get some guidance before making a decision and starting a claim process.

Do you have all of your paperwork, and did you file the right claim form?

It’s easy to lose receipts and printouts from doctors, hospitals and others that might have been involved in an event. But the more you follow your travel insurance company’s process, the less likely you will experience a delay, or be denied.

It’s also critical that you follow your insurer’s documentation requirements for things like lost and delayed luggage.

When did you seek medical treatment?

Just because you got sick while traveling, doesn’t mean you have documentation to prove it. Seeking treatment prior to returning home and saving all medical documentation is critical to proving both your expense, and the fact that an event occurred.

Definitely get documentation during the trip, and if you forget, seek additional treatment upon return. Anything you do to get an independent, qualified party to document your case will be of assistance to you during your claim.

Was your condition pre-existing?

Pre-existing conditions are a common tripwire for claim delays and denials. Travelers should request a plan that includes a pre-existing medical conditions waiver if this could be an issue. Often purchasing a policy within a certain amount of time (usually 14-21 days) after the first payment of the trip provides coverage for pre-existing conditions. (NOTE: the traveler should verify the accuracy of this information as it relates to the specific policy they are considering.)

Important steps to take:

*Gather all paperwork and documentation in advance and obtain any claims-related medical documents and/or police reports prior to returning home.

*Understand your travel insurance policy language prior to departure.

*Buy travel insurance as early as possible to increase your eligibility for time-sensitive benefits and to ensure your trip cost is accurate.

*Expect claim processing delays following major travel events, like hurricanes.

If you need insurance for your next trip, click here for a variety of coverage options.

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Visiting Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity?

The star marks the traditional location of Jesus’ birth in the basement of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com/Todd Bolen

Over the last several years, the number of visitors at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem have grown to unmanageable sizes. This growth has caused many visitors to the church to leave before actually getting to visit the basement, the most desired destination in the church.

As a result of the growing numbers of disappointed travelers, The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism is developing a reservation app that is supposed to help reduce the wait time at the church.

For a more complete report on this development, see this article.

Going to South Africa?

AMENDED GUIDELINES SIMPLIFY FAMILY TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA

These regulations are easing family travel and allowing the diverse natural scenery and wildlife of the country to be explored by children of all ages and their parents. The variety of sites and events in the country are ideal for multi-generational travel and now the whole family can easily visit! Witness the big 5 on a safari and experience the infamous penguins on Boulder Beach. Round out your trip with scenic hikes and tours through the varying city scapes and discover the history of the country and celebrate the influence of Nelson Mandela.

South Africa is becoming more accessible for traveling families through updated regulations. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced on December 1st, 2018 that they are relaxing some of the regulations for children traveling to South Africa. The announcement comes at a pivotal point for family travel as the Festive Season, a time when many families travel with their children, is fast approaching.

Amended Guidelines for US & CAN Child Travelers to South Africa

As visas are not required for US & CAN travelers visiting for less than 90 days, generally, children (under 18) travelling with both parents will experience no additional questioning and will not be requested to provide any additional documents, over and above a valid passport.

However, if it may appear that you are not the parents of the child for any reason, such as different surnames, same sex marriages, significant age differences, or different nationalities, documentation may be requested. It is suggested that you consider carrying a birth certificate which features the details of the parent or parents, or other documentation that might assist to prove the parental relationship such as a marriage certificate, adoption certificate etc.

If only one parent is travelling with a child, or a child is travelling with another adult (or adults) who is/are not the child’s parent, you may be asked a few questions to establish your relationship with the child, the reason the child is travelling with you and/or the reason the other parent is not travelling with you.

Such travelers are strongly advised to carry evidence of their relationship with the child and/or the reason why they are travelling with the child, and evidence of consent to travel with the child from the absent parent or parents, together with their identification and contact details. However, should officials ask for documents you are not carrying with you, you will be given some time after arrival to source the relevant documentation requested.

This additional documentation could include:
* A copy of a birth certificate of the child with the parent or parents’ details;

*Written consent (which need not be an affidavit or notarized) from the absent parent or parents, or legal guardian of the child, authorizing the child to travel to the Republic with the adult he or she is travelling with;

*Copy of the passport of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child;

*The contact details of the parent or parents, or legal guardian, of the child;

*Where applicable, copy of an adoption order;

*Where applicable, a copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the sole parent or legal guardian of the child;

*Where applicable, a copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent or parents of the child.

For more details visit the Department of Home Affairs website here.
For more information on South Africa’s rich and diverse offerings visit www.southafrica.net, follow @SouthAfrica on Twitter and @VisitSouthAfrica on Instagram and Facebook.

Most Common Travel Related Accidents and Injuries

Travel Guard has published their list of the most common travel related accidents and injuries.

*Renting and using vehicles such as mopeds, Segways, jet skis or scooters without proper instructions.

*Drinking alcohol: Falls cause numerous injuries, and poor judgement in any situation can lead to an accident.

*Going beyond physical limits: If your knee hurts while walking the dog, it will hurt even more on when you attempt to cover Paris in one day.

*Falling during transfers on and off the tour bus, from dock to boat, etc.

* Riding or approaching animals.

*Ignoring existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Getting ill. (Wash your hands, a lot.)

*Taking selfies: Watch where you walk and remember that circumventing safety measures to get better pictures can lead to injury.

*Eating exotic cuisines that can cause stomach problems. Engaging in adventurous or strenuous activities with no experience—rock-climbing, challenging hikes, zip lines.

A travel insurance policy may be very helpful if you find yourself in one of the above situation.

To compare policy benefits or to purchase insurance click on the Travel Guard banner below.

5 US Airlines’ Nut Policies

Photo by Samrat Khadka on Unsplash

Kerry Tice and Sean Sweeney have provided helpful information for those interested in nut allergies and airlines.

Trying to maintain a nut-free environment on airplanes is virtually impossible, but a number of carriers are taking steps to offer solutions to the problem.

Following is a roundup of the allergy policies of U.S. major carriers and whether or not they serve nuts on their flights. All of the carriers encourage passengers to take necessary medical precautions prior to flying. It should be noted that EpiPens are exempt from the TSA 3-ounce limit on liquids.

American Airlines
Though the carrier does not serve peanuts on its flights, it does offer mixed nuts to its first-class and business-class passengers, making it difficult to guarantee that passengers won’t be exposed to nuts during their trip. Effective Dec. 12, the carrier will allow passengers with nut allergies to board early to wipe down their seats.

“Some have asked us if we expect to see people faking a nut allergy in order to board the flight earlier,” said American spokesperson Michelle Mohr. “We do not expect rampant abuse of this policy. We do not think that our customers will fake having a potentially life-threatening allergy in order to simply board the plane a little bit faster.”

Delta Air Lines
If a passenger notifies Delta of a peanut or nut allergy at least 48 hours prior to the flight, the carrier will refrain from serving any kind of peanut products onboard, instead offering non-peanut snacks to everyone onboard.

Additionally, passengers can alert gate agents if they would like to pre-board to decontaminate their seats, but the airline advises that they must bring their own cleaning materials.

The carrier’s website policy reads: “Though we always aim to work with you to make your flight safe and comfortable, we cannot guarantee a peanut- or nut-free flight or prohibit other customers from carrying nut products aboard. If you need to make us aware of a nut allergy for an upcoming flight, please visit My Trips to fill out the Accessibility Service Request form or call Delta reservations at 404-209-3434.”

United Airlines
United does not serve pre-packaged peanuts on its flights, but notes on its website that it does “prepare and serve meals and snacks utilizing a variety of other ingredients, including major food allergens.”

Due to this, the carrier says it cannot guarantee an allergen-free meal or environment on its flights or prevent customers from bringing food items onboard that contain major food allergens, including peanuts.

United’s website policy reads: “If you have concerns about a severe food allergy, please notify a flight attendant onboard the aircraft. In some cases, we may be able to pass along your request to other customers seated nearby to refrain from opening and eating any allergen-containing products they may have brought onboard.

For operational reasons, we cannot remove any onboard products based on individual customer requests, and we do not offer allergen-free buffer zones on our aircraft. Since we cannot guarantee allergen-free flights, we encourage customers to review any health concerns with their physicians prior to flying.”

Southwest Airlines
The carrier stopped serving peanuts on its flights on Aug. 1, however their website policy states that many of the snacks they serve “may be packaged in the same facility as peanuts. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that they don’t contain peanut particles or oil.” Southwest also stated it cannot prevent passengers from bringing peanuts onboard its flights.

JetBlue
JetBlue does not serve peanuts onboard but does serve other nuts and food items that may be cross-contaminated with peanuts. On request, the carrier will create a three-row buffer zone around a passenger with a nut allergy and ask those passengers in that zone to refrain from eating any nuts. JetBlue will also offer a full refund to passengers whose allergies make it impossible for them to travel.