How to use trip insurance as a result of the European heatwave?
June 26, 2019 10:20 AM   Subscribe

On vacation in France. The heatwave is making the trip miserable. Also, my wife is pregnant. We have trip insurance. How do we handle this?

So we arrived in Paris on Monday morning and had a nice first two days. The heat’s been increasing, however, and we spent today in Strasbourg overheated, searching for anywhere with air conditioning and ice or cold water. It was unpleasant, put a damper on the time here and stopped us from doing the things we wanted to do. We’re supposed to be heading to the Provence region tomorrow, staying there until next Thursday when we fly back to the US. The temperatures in the area look to be between 90 and 110 for the time we’re there (higher than it was in Strasbourg today).

We’re traveling with my brother and his wife (both miserable) and my 10-weeks-pregnant wife. We all bought “cancel for any reason” trip insurance.

We’re coming to the realization that it may be a. unreasonable to expect to be able to spend almost any time out and about exploring towns and historic areas and b. it may actually be dangerous, especially for my wife. I know that you can’t cancel a trip with insurance because of the pregnancy itself but how about if it’s a health risk to my wife and the baby?

This is a total bummer for all of us but we want to try and make the right call as soon as possible. I plan on contacting the insurance company tonight when we’re back in our hotel. I need to review the terms of the policy, too.

Any advice or help on how to navigate the call with the insurance company (what to say or what not to say) or any other thoughts on how to best handle this situation would be super appreciated. Thanks!
posted by rbf1138 to Travel & Transportation around France (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would review that policy very carefully. I didn't even know anyone offered "cancel for any reason" trip insurance; it sounds like a money-loser.

Can you arrange for your wife to see a doctor to advise on whether it would be wise to continue? I bet medical documentation would help significantly.
posted by praemunire at 10:26 AM on June 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I can't comment on the insurance aspect, but I do agree that heading to Provence is not the right way to go. Have you booked lodging ahead? What did the insurance cover?

I am asking because if you want to stay in Europe, I'd advise changing your plans and catching a train North here to the Netherlands or to Northern Belgium - eg Brugges. The heat wave hit here but its gone now - although this coming Saturday may briefly be hot too, though not as hot as France.
posted by vacapinta at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

They do offer "Cancel for any reason" coverage. It's expensive compared to the policies where you can only cancel for specific reasons, with documentation. If cancel for any reason is what you bought, you should be able to make a claim, and it should be covered. Call the insurance issuer. I have collected on travel insurance claims a couple of times with no trouble.
posted by jkent at 10:34 AM on June 26, 2019

You need to see if you have trip interruption coverage, that is different from trip cancellation, as you are already on the trip.
posted by Aranquis at 10:44 AM on June 26, 2019 [11 favorites]

Also, you may need a physician to document it is unsafe to continue, so you really need to read the fine print as you can't interrupt a trip for any reason, they will state covered reasons and other requirements (notification of airplane, documentation, etc)
posted by Aranquis at 10:56 AM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

The number one thing I think you need to do before you call the insurance company is to know what you want to do and what you want them to do for you - do you want a refund for your prepaid accomodations in Provence? Do you want to come home to the US right now and the travel insurance pays for your tickets? I think Aranquis is likely right that this isn't really be a "cancellation" - a straight-up cancellation is easy for the travel insurance company, they just have to give you your money back. Your situation is more complicated.

Regardless of what insurance will cover, if you do decide to go elsewhere in Europe another possbility would be the Alps. A cursory check of the weather forecast suggests that Chamonix will have highs in the 80s Fahrenheit this upcoming week.
posted by mskyle at 11:43 AM on June 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you can find accommodation, go to Normandy, particularly the Cotentin peninsula (the Normandy Landings area). Weather forecast for the next days in that region is 18-19°C (65-66 °F) in the afternoon vs 34-38 elsewhere (93-101 °F).
posted by elgilito at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Brittany is also still pretty cool, but obviously much less accessible than other options people are suggesting. I spent today working outside in Val de Loire and honestly could barely concentrate by the time I was done at six. I agree with previous commenters that looking into getting a doctor's note may be useful. Good luck, whatever you decide.
posted by peakes at 12:35 PM on June 26, 2019

I work in the travel industry and we highly recommend travel insurance. "Cancel for any reason" is exactly that - cancel PRIOR to departure. As per Travelex, for example, note the deadline for cancelling a trip.

Rest Easy - You Can Cancel For Any Reason
We all run into a snag here or there when it comes to travel. That's why people love the "Cancel for Any Reason" upgrade which is available on the Travel Select plan. The "Cancel for Any Reason" upgrade must be purchased within 21 days of the initial trip deposit of your Trip and at the time of initial plan purchase. This upgrade lets you cancel for any reason – for whatever it may be – up to 48 hours prior to your Scheduled Departure Date.

How Does It Work?
The Cancel for Any Reason option reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost. The upgrade requires that all pre-paid non-refundable trip costs are insured. Maximum trip cost is $10,000 per person.

On the plus side, check your insurance to see what kind of medical coverage they may offer. If it's for a medical reason, you and your wife may be able to get a refund for unused services, but if your brother and his wife do not have the same reason to return, then they really wouldn't be able to claim anything. Good luck.

And as for your air, you'll probably have to pay up front for any change fees and difference in price in returning on a different date than originally booked. Fees could be steep for Europe right now last minute.
posted by HeyAllie at 1:01 PM on June 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: We’ve decided to make the best of things, reset our expectations, take it slow and easy and just spend more time at our hotel and in cafes than we’d thought. We may do some drives around the areas our two hotels are located, just to see the sights.
posted by rbf1138 at 1:17 PM on June 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

I worked for a company that (among other things) acted as a middleman selling travel insurance, and saw similar scenarios play out a bunch of times. It is extremely unlikely that your insurance policy will pay you anything, unless one of you is hospitalized and can document it. Even then, you should expect to spend weeks if not months arguing with insurance reps on the phone about the validity of your claim, the integrity of the doctor whose notes you are using as evidence, whatever small gaps exist in your documentation, and the quality of your character in general. My guess is that the amount of effort involved in recouping any of your expenses will totally dwarf the amount of money at stake, even if you are successful.

tl;dr don't buy travel insurance
posted by Mayor West at 1:31 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest hunkering down in hotel if it has air conditioning, or a museum. There's a lot to be said for people -- and scenery -- watching in another place. Good luck.
posted by terrapin at 3:15 PM on June 26, 2019

In case your wife is worried about the health risk to herself and her baby of the high temperatures- these temperatures are typical of an Australian summer - uncomfortable without air conditioning but not a health risk (AFAIK, i am not a doctor) to a pregnant woman or the baby.
posted by EatMyHat at 10:32 PM on June 26, 2019

I second Normandy. It is fresh and pleasantly warm during the day. I am dreading returning to Paris tomorrow. And for EatMyHat and anybody else who believes a number reflects the sensation of the temperature, let it go. Thirty-eight in Paris is not 38 in Sydney.
posted by bwonder2 at 11:38 PM on June 26, 2019

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