Making sure you're covered
Pregnancy holidays – also known as 'babymoons' – are becoming more and more popular with people who are getting ready to welcome a new addition to their families. The idea of packing your bags for one last chance to relax in an exotic location before the baby is born is alluring, and health insurer Cover-More has reported the number of pregnant women seeking pre-travel health assessments for overseas travel has increased by more than 200% over the past five years.
However, some babymoons can quickly turn into nightmares when things go wrong. In a recent case reported by Fairfax, a Melbourne woman holidaying in the Whitsundays gave birth prematurely at 27 weeks in a helicopter, and then spent three months confined to a Townsville hospital as the baby was under neonatal care. Despite health insurance, Ambulance Victoria membership and travel insurance attached to their credit cards, the couple were unable to be transferred to a Melbourne hospital because it was not deemed an emergency. And although the couple still received the best possible care away from home, this isn't always an option if you're travelling outside of Australia.
So if you want to plan a break before your baby arrives, it pays to do your homework thoroughly.
What to know before you go
Whether your destination is in Australia or overseas, the devil is in the detail when it comes to staying covered. Here's some things to consider before you book that international flight:
- Research the country you want to travel to. Is it somewhere you'd want to have your baby if an emergency arose?
- What is its healthcare system like? DFAT is an excellent source of factual information but know that if you're overseas there's no guarantee on the standard of level of care you'll receive, or that you'll be able to successfully navigate a foreign healthcare system not to mention the bill possibly worth hundred of thousands of dollars.
Wherever you're going, make sure you have appropriate travel insurance cover, check the fine print, and be sure to ask your insurer the following questions:
- Do you cover pregnancy complications? Several insurers don't cover pregnancy.
- If so, up until which stage of pregnancy? Some only cover pregnancy complications for up to 20 or 30 weeks, depending on the insurer.
- Do you cover childbirth up until this stage of pregnancy? Not all insurers will cover childbirth; a premature birth in the US for example, with intensive care and treatment, could end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Do I have to pay extra to be covered?
- Do I need medical approval to be covered?
- Do you cover IVF pregnancies? Not all pregnancy insurers will cover IVF pregnancies.
In our survey of insurers, Good2Go cover natural and IVF pregnancies until 26 weeks, and childbirth is covered up until this stage of pregnancy at no extra cost. Columbus Direct provides a pregnancy extension at additional charge up to 30 weeks.
For more information, see the CHOICE travel insurance review.
Another aspect of pregnant travel is whether you are safe to fly. Most airlines have guidelines depending on how far along your pregnancy is. Jetstar, Qantas, and Virgin will allow you to travel without medical documentation up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. However these airlines have different rules if you're in the later stages of pregnancy or have a complicated pregnancy.
These factors will also determine the length of time you're allowed to travel. Check with the airline about their specific policy and if in doubt, check with your doctor.