As with most other forms of insurance, with travel insurance the devil is truly in the details. That’s not to say that the fine print in a travel-insurance policy is meant to deceive or mislead; au contraire, Eau Claire. The language in a travel policy is there to draw clear lines between what’s covered and what’s not, so in cases of dispute you can look at the policy and say, “Aha; there it is.”
The problem is that it’s buried in a travel-insurance policy that no one reads because it’s an insurance policy, and no one reads insurance policies because you get awful nasty boils on your eyes if you do.
You don’t, of course, but that’s how most people approach insurance policies, so it might as well be the case.
So in the spirit of bringing what into the light what has been in the dark, we proudly present “Let’s Read Your Policy #2: The Exclusions Edition.”
As you might guess, exclusions are the things that insurance doesn’t cover. It frustrates consumers that one of the ways insurance companies define what’s covered is to define what’s not covered, but it makes sense when you think about it. Thing is, we don’t want to think about it, so we’re moving on to some actual exclusions.
Let’s take baggage. According to a typical ExactCare policy, here is the list of exclusions for baggage:
Benefits will not be provided for any Loss, or damage to, caused by, or resulting in whole or in part from:
- animals, rodents, insects or vermin;
- bicycles (except when checked with a Common Carrier);
- motor vehicles, aircraft, boats, boat motors, ATV’s and other conveyances; (d) artificial prosthetic devices, false teeth, any type of eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids;
- keys, notes, securities, accounts, currency, deeds, food stamps, bills, credit cards, or other evidences of debt, or tickets;
- money, stamps, stocks and bonds, postal or money orders;
- property shipped as freight, or shipped prior to the Departure Date;
- contraband, illegal transportation or trade;
- items seized by any government, government official or customs official;
- defective materials or craftsmanship;
- normal wear and tear;
What’s sort of interesting about this is that things that can be damaged are lumped in with things that can cause damage. This may make you wonder – in the case of bicycles, for instance. Does “bicycles” mean damage to a bicycle or damage caused by a bicycle? Conceivably it could mean both, though the number of cases of baggage damage caused by a 10-speed trucking a Samsonite is likely infinitesimal.
Similarly, it’s conceivable that someone could claim that the vermin they were lugging to Belgium were mishandled by the airline. We’d like to see how that conversation goes.
And we’re betting that someone out in that bright, shiny world has filed a claim for damage to contraband – nothing major, maybe just some throwing knives and live smoke grenades – they were packing in their luggage that was seized at customs. Again, to be a fly on that wall.
Finally, there’s an entire class of exclusions that come under the heading of, “Well, yeah.” If your baggage falls apart because it’s a three-year-old garbage bag with tasteful duct-tape accents and occasional gaping holes, it’s probably not going to be covered. Things wear out (even garbage bags), zip-up bags come from the factory with zippers that don’t zip, and if you weren’t traveling and weren’t insured you’d go ahead and deal with it, so why should an insurance company pay for that?
We could go on, but we feel that old familiar feeling in our eyes, so we’d better wrap this one up.
Read your policy. You might learn something. And it won’t give you boils. Promise.