In a perfect world, today’s post would have been about the awesome conference I was supposed to attend and interesting things I had learned about during that week. Unfortunately, instead of going to the conference, I ended up being hospitalized the day before my flight was scheduled to take off. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of my travel insurance and not have to worry about being out lots of money for something outside of my control. Here are my tips for using travel insurance with chronic or unexpected illness, and how I got my claim approved on the first try.
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First, why I purchased travel insurance
Whenever possible, I purchase travel insurance as I have an unpredictable chronic illness that can make travelling difficult. While I am typically able to travel with no issues, and this is the first time there has been an issue, I still like to have the insurance just in case I end up getting sick or having an injury that means I am unable to travel. Some travel insurance providers do not protect against pre-existing conditions, though I did not have this health issue when I booked my tickets.
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What happened with my health
About 24 hours before I was supposed to leave for the airport to go to a conference, I fell down on campus due to vertigo, and afterwards had uncontrollable vertigo that left me unable to leave my room. I went to urgent care later that night and was sent to the emergency room, where I was eventually admitted to the hospital for a couple of days. I had never dealt with severe vertigo prior to this and was really sad that I had to miss my conference, which I had looked forward to for months.
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How I wrote my claim
Shortly after I was discharged from the hospital and a few days after my flight was supposed to leave, I filed a claim with the travel insurance I had purchased from the airline at the same time I had purchased my ticket. The first part of the claim involved me writing out my contact information as well as some other information of my trip, and then I had to answer some questions about why I was filing a medical-related claim.
When writing my claim, I mentioned that I had developed vertigo and the dates I was hospitalized, and that I had never had this issue before. It was important to note that I was admitted to the hospital early in the morning the day I was supposed to leave, and that I would have been unable to travel with this limitation.
My travel insurance policy required that I submit documentation to confirm that I had this health issue. I attached the first page of my hospital discharge documents, which had my name and dates/times I was in the hospital, as well as confirmed that I had vertigo. I also had my neurologist write a note just in case I needed additional documentation, but this was not necessary to include as the hospital discharge was enough.
What I requested
Since I had only purchased travel insurance for my flight, I requested reimbursement for the full value of my flight, which was a little less than $200. Since I purchased the policy from my airline, I was unable to get reimbursed for my hotel and other expenses, though I was still able to get refunded for them- more on that below.
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Reimbursement for other expenses
For my hotel, I cancelled about 24 hours in advance prior to checkout, and was told that I could get a refund to my original payment method, minus the first night. After explaining that I had a medical emergency that kept me from traveling, I received a credit for my next stay that was equal to the full value of the first night.
As for my conference ticket, I ended up posting on social media that I had an extra conference ticket that I was willing to sell for the original cost, and had people contact me through my private messages for details. I used Venmo to receive payment and someone purchased my ticket for full price less than 12 hours before the conference started, as it was a sold-out event and tickets were transferable.
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Getting a check in the mail
About three weeks after I had filed my claim, I received a check in the mail showing that everything had been approved and I was eligible for a full refund. I never received an email that said I had been approved, though when I logged in online I was able to see the information about the status of my claim.
Having to miss out on travel is no fun, and I wish I could have gone to the conference like I had planned on. However, my health is much more important, and I am fortunate that I was able to get refunds on everything, minus a small processing fee from Venmo. While I hope that no one else has to miss their trip due to issues related to chronic illness, I hope this post is helpful for others who may be in the same position that I was!