Booze and Travel Insurance Don’t Mix.

It may be the season to be jolly.  But if you overdo it and need to go to hospital to deal with the consequences, you may be in for more than a hangover. Travel insurance policies don’t cover alcohol or drug-related consequences. Be warned.

A couple of years ago, a Canadian woman complained to a newspaper that her travel insurance company denied an emergency medical claim for her son who, while on spring break, tried to leap from one hotel balcony to another and fell, breaking his leg.  The fact her son was drunk at the time didn’t seem relevant to her.  She paid her son’s insurance premium and she demanded coverage.

Well she didn’t get it and so she should not have.  Travel insurance is designed, and priced, to cover accidents or unavoidable, unexpected, medical emergencies, not acts of self destruction, negligence, carelessness, or plain stupidity. If it did, the price of everyone’s insurance, including yours or your parents’ or your childrens’, would be far higher than it has to be, and that’s not fair.

I couldn’t care less if my fellow traveller downs a six pack before breakfast, so long as he doesn’t get behind the wheel of his car or boat or dives into a swimming pool where others are enjoying themselves.   But don’t ask me or anyone else to pay for the consequences.

Alcohol-related accidents or illness are extremely common in hospital emergency rooms during holiday periods, and in areas where vacationers go to let off steam and relax from day-to-day concerns.  But alcohol-related illnesses can also take the form of chronic pre-existing conditions that can suddenly flare up with the intake of too much booze, and if that happens, the insurer has a legitimate right to look into the patient’s medical record and determine if the claim is payable or not.

Every travel insurance policy I have ever seen clearly states that it’s designed for unexpected emergencies, and will not cover any condition or circumstance caused by, or related to, the use or abuse of alcohol or other drugs.  I detest the more fashionable word “substance” because it’s a useless euphemism designed for political correctness.  Wood is a substance, but you can’t get drunk on it even if you could eat it.

Alcohol is fine, in its place. But if you’re counting on travel insurance to pay for its misuse, it could cost you.

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