Travel Insurance and Pregnancy: What Travellers Need to Know
Preparing for your babymoon? Taking a holiday can be a great escape before the business of parenting begins.
If you've never heard of what a babymoon is, it's a quick getaway taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born. It’s a last-ditch effort to get some quality and relaxing time before the bump gets too big to want to go anywhere.
But babymoons aside, you can’t always be sure that nothing can go wrong during your travel and one of the ways to ensure safe and comfortable travel while pregnant is having travel insurance.
Having travel insurance can cover the costs for pregnancy-related complications that may occur during your travels.
If you’ve never travelled during your pregnancy, the Bear explains what you need to know help you on your way.
Pregnant and Travelling: What Could Go Wrong?
Research shows that going on a trip can have huge benefits on your health and well-being, and can form a better bond between couples before the new-found delights of parenthood.
While travelling when pregnant has its benefits, it can also be nerve-wracking with the possibility of complications that may arise.
That’s why a travel insurance should be at the top of your list of things to take with you. Some of the risks of travelling when pregnant include:
- Miscarriage – Pregnant women who want to travel during the first semester (first 3-months) have a high chance of experiencing a miscarriage
- DVT – Pregnant women travelling long distance may be at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This happens during a long period of not moving in car, bus or air travel as it increases the risk of clots forming in the deep veins of the leg
- Malaria – Malaria is an infection carried by species of mosquito which can cause miscarriage, premature labour and stillbirth among pregnant women
- Food poisoning – Dodgy street food, undercooked meals and other eateries may result in food poisoning
- Destinations with well-known viruses – Some destinations should be avoided when pregnant because of viruses such as Zika virus, which is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause severe birth defects
- Unexpected child labour – Your travel insurance may cover for pregnancy-related treatment, but other complications may not be covered by the insurance which could come at a considerable cost financially and emotionally.
What is covered in the travel insurance for pregnant women?
As a pregnant woman, you will be entitled to the basic coverages offered by your standard travel insurance, including:
- Lost or stolen baggage
- Flight cancellations
- Flight delays
The main difference, however, is that the medical cover it provides caters for pregnant women. A good travel insurance policy should cover you for the following:
- Pregnancy-related complications
- Early births
- Medical care during labour
- Lump sum benefit payable due to child complications
The policy covered in travel insurance varies from provider to provider, so make sure you secure travel insurance that covers every potential eventuality that may arise when comparing.
So don't just pay attention to the price of your travel insurance of choice; more importantly, you need to understand if the policy coverages are sufficient for your needs.
What is excluded from the pregnancy cover?
Any travel insurance will have restrictions and exclusions, and a pregnancy is no exception. Make sure you read up on the terms and conditions in your travel insurance policy. Below are some examples of possible exclusions:
- Complications during pregnancy
If you have existing complications (e.g. gestational diabetes) at the time you take out the insurance policy or book the trip
- Doctor advised you against travelling
If your pregnancy is deemed high-risk or there are potential risks particular to your pregnancy, you are generally not advised to fly
- Multiple pregnancies
If you’re carrying more than one child (e.g. twins)
If you plan on travelling later than weeks 29 - and up to 40 - some policies won’t typically provide cover for trip cancellation due to childbirth. In some cases, specific exclusions may be added to your coverage by paying an additional premium or completing a medical assessment form.
Note that some of these exclusions may be not be covered by the provider. Check with your insurers for what’s excluded before purchasing any policy.
Should I Declare to the Insurer that I’m Pregnant?
Each insurance policy has a section on medical conditions that are either automatically covered or excluded under the policy. Pregnancy can fall into one of the groups depending on how long you are pregnant.
It’s important to confirm with your insurance provider if you have covered for any pregnancy-related issues, as some insurers automatically cover pregnancy and others do not.
For instance, certain insurers provide cover for single, uncomplicated pregnancies up to a specific limit of development, generally 26 weeks.
Other insurers may require you to complete a medical assessment before they can approve your application, but will let you purchase the cover.
At What Stage is it Safe to Travel?
As long as you’re up to 27 weeks pregnant, flying shouldn’t cause you any problems for most airlines; nonetheless, it’s best to speak to your doctor about it.
Usually, you can squeeze in a trip somewhere between the time morning sickness eases off and when one is considered high-risk. Keep in mind:
- The safest time to fly is up to 27 weeks; most airlines will be happy to take you on board
- At 12 weeks, some women prefer not to fly due to feelings of nausea or morning sickness and fatigue. Also, the first three months have a higher risk of miscarriage
- However, if you want to fly after the 28 weeks, you may need a letter from your doctor confirming your due date since the risk of going into labour increases. The letter must indicate that you are fit to fly and that you are unlikely to go on labour
- Flying beyond 36 weeks will be difficult as most airlines will not allow you to travel due to the high risk of labour
This essentially means you have a 16-week window from weeks 14 to 28 when you are safe to fly.
How Far Should You Travel?
The decision of how far to venture from home solely depends on you, but for peace of mind and comfort, you can consult your doctor when’s the best time for you to fly.
Ideally, your flight should be short and sweet – no more than five or six hours. It’s best to travel somewhere close to your home where you want to give birth if you’re at 20 weeks.
Consider how long you want to be cooped up on a plane in a tiny economy class seat. You might want to consider a seat that offers more legroom unless you are fortunate enough to snag a business class seat.
Having a baby bump is usually not the most comfortable stage in a woman’s life, and spending hours sitting still might not bode well for the rest of the trip.
Travel Immunisation and Pregnancy
If you’re travelling to developing nations, you may need to be immunised against diseases. Most vaccines, however, are either dangerous to a developing fetus or haven’t been adequately tested for safety on pregnant women.
Fortunately, certain vaccines are proven safe for pregnant women. You can check with your doctor or healthcare provider to see which vaccine poses no risk to you and your baby.
One of the vaccines that are known to be safe for all pregnant women is the influenza vaccine. Since Influenza in pregnancy can be a severe illness, it’s strongly recommended especially among high-risk pregnancies.
5 Tips to Make Your Flight (More) Tolerable
While reclining your seat and watching the clouds go by from a window seat sounds appealing, that’s not the case for a pregnant woman. Here are some tips you can make your trip more tolerable if you’re expecting a baby:
- Choose the aisle seat
When you need to go to the toilet, the aisle seat is easily the most convenient
- Wear comfortable clothes
The body temperature of a pregnant woman is higher than average. As much as possible, wear loose, layered clothing and comfortable shoes
- Drink lots of water
Air travel tends to be dehydrating, it’s best to drink extra fluids. This can also help eliminate false labour pains
- Eat small meals
Small - and frequent - meals can help prevent nausea and hypoglycemia
- Stretch at least every hour
If you’re going to sit for hours, it’s best to stretch at least every hour to lower the possibility of blood clots in the legs
Top Things You Need to Remember When Flying During Pregnancy
Travelling as a mom-to-be can be safe, comfortable, and loads of fun. Some important things to remember when flying during your pregnancy include:
- Travel between 14 to 28 weeks
The best time to travel is during the time you’re over the worst of your morning sickness, and most travel insurance providers will still offer cover
- Seek advice from your doctor
Before you go on an adventure, make sure to check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to travel. If you’ve already booked, it’s still best to make an appointment to get advice on the duration of your holiday or anything you should avoid
- Select your destinations accordingly
A secluded beach in Bali might seem like the perfect getaway, but it can become a nightmare when you need medical help immediately. Some destinations where the chances of airborne infections such as Zika virus or Malaria should be avoided. These include India, Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Caveat emptor! You can also find out which areas abroad are prone to the Zika virus
- Take it easy
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, it might be best to sit out scuba diving, bungee jumping or any extreme activities
- Bring Your travel documents
Don’t forget to bring a copy of your travel insurance policy, medical notes and receipts in the event that you need to make a claim.
Going on a trip while expecting a child can make you more vulnerable. There are so many dos and don’ts when it comes to pregnancy, especially during air travel.
With your worries answered, you can ensure that you can experience your well-deserved holiday while keeping your baby safe with the right travel insurance.
All that’s left is to choose the travel insurance the best suit for your needs. Remember to read the fine print so you know you’re covered for anything that might come up.
If you already have existing travel insurance, be sure to check with your insurer if your policy provides coverage for any pregnancy-related issues.