21 Jan Holiday Insurance and Pregnancy
Pregnancy is not a reason for a woman to avoid overseas travel, but it is crucial to have adequate holiday insurance in place. There are many different views on the best and safest time for a pregnant woman to travel. It is widely believed that the first trimester (first 12 weeks) is not an ideal time to plan a getaway because the mother may experience morning sickness, tiredness and other symptoms.
The second trimester is the time that most women choose for a holiday and, let’s face it, if this is a woman’s first pregnancy it may be the last chance for a truly relaxing holiday for many years to come!
The third trimester is generally not a good time for a pregnant woman to travel for many reasons, including the risk of an early delivery – perhaps even during the flight.
There is no reason not to plan a romantic getaway for two (not counting junior, yet) or some luxury and pampering at a spa. Experienced parents already know that once baby arrives any future holidays will involve bags of nappies/diapers, baby paraphernalia, and a crying infant in tow – not to mention (sorry) scowling fellow passengers!
Take care in choosing the best time to travel, as well as a suitable destination. The number one priority is that mother and baby are not subjected to any unnecessary stress or risk. It is possible to take out holiday insurance while pregnant, but carefully read the policy terms and conditions.
Choosing a sensible holiday destination while pregnant is important. That palm-fringed remote tropical island may appear ideal in the travel brochure, but would their local hospital be up to the job in the event of an early labour and delivery, especially with complications? The cost of air ambulance transfer to access specialised care in another country would be extremely high. As well as the possible risk to mother and baby, there are complications involved in such a transfer, such as obtaining necessary visas and travel permission. Without adequate holiday insurance and expert assistance such a scenario would be a total nightmare for the average person to sort out.
Obtaining holiday insurance for an uncomplicated single pregnancy should not be any problem, but be prepared for sensible restrictions and a cut off period after which time it is not considered wise to travel. Most airlines and travel companies refuse to accept responsibility once a pregnancy reaches a certain stage, which may vary between companies.
Citizens of EU member countries should obtain the (free) European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling to other EU countries that have reciprocal medical care schemes. However, the EHIC should never be used as a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance – for many reasons. For one, the EHIC may cover hospital costs but does not cover very expensive emergency medical repatriation if this should become necessary. It also does not cover lost luggage or travel documents, cancellation or curtailment (cutting short your holiday) and many other common travel mishaps. It is important to keep stress to a minimum while pregnant, so for peace of mind always travel with both holiday insurance and EHIC.
Remember to check the pregnancy policy of your airline before you book and pay for travel, as most reserve the right to refuse travel after a cut-off (usually around the 28th week of pregnancy). It may be necessary to produce a Fit to Fly letter from your doctor or midwife. Also check whether you will be beyond the airline’s cut-off date on your return trip, especially if booking a lengthy holiday. If going on a package holiday tell the booking agent about your pregnancy so they can check the charter airline’s pregnancy policy.
Choose holiday insurance that covers pregnancy and includes adequate medical cover as well as medical repatriation. The rules regarding your return home well before the expected delivery date are there for a reason. It is extremely important to abide by the terms and conditions of your holiday insurance as set out in the policy, as failure to do so could lead to denial of related claims.
Check with your doctor well in advance (and preferably before you book) that it is okay for you to travel and safe to have the required vaccinations. If you already have an annual travel insurance policy in place call your insurer to report your pregnancy and make sure that cover is not affected.
Without adequate holiday insurance the cost of cancelling your holiday or paying for emergency medical care in a foreign hospital, as well as repatriation could spell financial ruin. No one else but you is responsible for the bill, including your consulate or embassy. Parents naturally want their children to have every possible advantage in life and junior will thank you for being sensible when the time comes to pay for college tuition fees!