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Travel Insurance for Pregnancy: Tips for Expats Traveling While Pregnant

As an expat mother-to-be, it’s advised not to travel after 36 weeks of pregnancy for domestic trips, and after the 28th week for international travels. Usually, travel insurance plans have different policies regarding pre-existing conditions, and most do not directly cover pregnancy-related matters.

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Are you an expectant mother looking to travel abroad? Wondering what you can and cannot do while traveling during pregnancy? Want to know if travel insurance plans cover pregnancy-related matters?

This Pacific Prime article will provide you with essential insights on what to expect while traveling abroad during pregnancy, the things you need to know before traveling, and why it’s wise to secure a maternity insurance plan instead during pregnancy.

Travel Insurance Coverage Options for Pregnant Expats

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Typically, travel insurance for pregnant women provides the same level of coverage as any other type of travel insurance. As such, there is no “pregnancy plan” when it comes to travel insurance.

With that being said, some insurers may cover pregnancy complications before or during the trip. Some policies may even cover pregnancy-related cancellations after purchasing a plan.

Thus, pregnant expats may want to consider a comprehensive travel insurance plan with coverage focusing on these areas:

  • Trip cancellation: This provides you the benefits of reimbursing you for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses should you cancel your trip for a covered reason. Generally, normal pregnancy and symptoms such as morning sickness are not covered unless you purchased the plan before your pregnancy.
  • Trip interruption: Any unused prepaid and nonrefundable costs may be reimbursed should you need to stop your trip for a covered reason. Pregnancy complications occurring after starting your trip might be a complicated matter, however.
    • Some insurers may not consider false labor or preeclampsia as complications. Acute kidney inflammation, nephrosis, missed abortion, or a compulsory cesarean section may be considered.
  • Cancel for any reason (CFAR): This is one of the best options for expectant mothers, as you can cancel your trip for any reason not covered under trip cancellation coverage. You will receive up to 75% reimbursement for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses.
    • However, since CFAR is time-sensitive, you have to purchase the coverage within 14 to 21 days of when you bought your trip and cancel at least 48 hours before your departure.
  • Emergency evacuation: This provides emergency transport to the nearest medical facility or transportation back home should you need necessary medical attention. This can be life-saving in any case of emergency complications.
  • Travel medical: This covers unforeseen injuries or illnesses that occur while traveling. It includes benefits for diagnostic tests such as X-rays and lab work should unexpected medical complications arise. 
    • However, routine pregnancy checkups and normal childbirth are typically not covered. Nevertheless, it may provide reimbursement for medical complications that arise during delivery.

With all things considered, please keep in mind that coverages and limitations vary between each insurer. Go through the fine print carefully, and always ask questions regarding pregnancy restrictions and complications.

When Should Expats Travel During Pregnancy?

Generally, the safest time to travel is during the second trimester (weeks 13-26). This is when you’ll feel at your physical best, as the symptoms from the first trimester will progressively subside.

As some of you may already know, most expectant mothers avoid traveling during the first 12 weeks. This is the period where there’s a lot of nausea and vomiting, and the resulting fatigue and frustration.

Moreover, during the first trimester of your pregnancy, there is a higher risk of miscarriage, regardless of whether you’re traveling or not. Thus, you should consult with your doctor before traveling, especially if your pregnancy is high-risk.

Ways Pregnant Expats Can Travel

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Two modes of transportation are considered safe for pregnant expats to travel, which are by air and by car.

Remember to take extra care of yourself, and plan your travels well ahead. It’s also a good idea to bring your maternity notes with you in case you need any medical attention.

Traveling by Air

Flying is the safest way to travel for everyone. As such, traveling by air will not be dangerous for you and your baby. Still, you may want to consider a few things before booking your flight:

  • Some airlines will not let you fly towards the end of your pregnancy, as the chances of getting into labor are higher after week 37 (or week 32 if you’re carrying twins)
  • After week 28 of your pregnancy, airlines may ask for a letter from your doctor regarding your due date, and whether or not you have any pregnancy complications
  • Flights longer than four hours carry a small risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) due to lower cabin pressure. Drink plenty of water, and try to move around every 30 minutes if possible. Buying a pair of support stockings from the pharmacy will also help reduce leg swelling
  • If possible, arrange with the airline for a bulkhead seat or a seat near an exit for extra legroom. Booking an aisle seat is also ideal for trips to the toilet
  • Fasten your seatbelt under your bump and across your lap

Traveling by Car

Pregnant expats can travel by car to their destinations. Here are some tips to help you prepare before buckling up for the ride:

  • General fatigue and nausea are commonplace during pregnancy, so be sure to drink water regularly, as well as eat natural energy-rich foods like fruits and nuts
  • Fasten your seat belt with a cross strap between your breasts, and the lap strap across your pelvis under your bump. Any sudden movement could cause your placenta to separate from your uterus, so avoid wearing the lap strap across your bump
  • Do some mini exercises by flexing and rotating your feet and wiggling your toes to increase blood circulation. Wearing support stockings on long journeys that are more than four hours can increase blood flow as well
  • If possible, make frequent toilet breaks so you can stretch your legs
  • If you are the one driving, adjust the seat as far back from the steering wheel as possible while still maintaining a safe and comfortable driving posture

High-risk Pregnancies and Travel

Before traveling, make sure you don’t have the following conditions, as it may put both you and the baby at risk. However, this list may not include all the possible conditions, so discuss your health history with your doctor before traveling.

  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Cervical problems, or “incompetent cervix”
  • First pregnancy over the age of 35
  • History of blood clots
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • History of high blood pressure
  • History of premature labor
  • History of infertility
  • History of miscarriage
  • History of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that develops outside the womb)
  • Severe anemia

Additional Coverage to Consider for Pregnant Expats

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While a comprehensive travel insurance plan will cover most unexpected illnesses or injuries, it may not cover specific pregnancy-related matters. This is why we advise you to go over your travel plans to gauge how much coverage you’ll need, so you can request specific details from your insurer.

Additionally, here are more important details expectant mothers should consider before traveling:

  • Figure out if you have other coverage options through other providers. For example, your credit card company may offer trip cancellations, trip interruption, or emergency evacuation coverage. Your health insurance may provide some pregnancy-related coverage as well
  • Calculate how much of your trip is nonrefundable, so you can evaluate the importance of trip cancellation and interruption coverage
  • Compare policies from different providers to understand their coverage offers, and ask specific pregnancy-related questions. What complications are covered? Which plan has the highest medical coverage limit? How much is the reimbursement for CFAR?

It’s also vital to research the medical facilities in your destination beforehand, in case you need any medical attention during your travels.

Why You Should Take Up Private Maternity Insurance Instead

If all else fails, the best advice we can give to you is to sign up for comprehensive international maternity insurance instead, as it will cover all the essential details and benefits an expectant mother needs. 

The Advantages of Maternity Insurance Benefits

Maternity insurance will help you ease your financial burdens, as pregnancy and childbirth can be quite costly. These plans will provide global coverage for expecting expat mothers when they go abroad.

A list of maternity insurance benefits will include, but not limited to:

  • Labor and delivery converge
  • Medically prescribed Cesarean Sections
  • Prenatal and postnatal care
  • Congenital defect coverage
  • Newborn care coverage
  • Hospitalization coverage for newborns

Let Pacific Prime Take it From Here

Expecting mothers are constantly making adjustments to their daily routines during pregnancy, and traveling is no different. Expat mothers-to-be have a lot to assess before booking a trip, such as when and how to travel, as well as ensuring medical coverage for the duration of the journey.

With over 20 years of experience as a globally recognized international health insurance broker, Pacific Prime and our team of specialists excel in designing international maternity insurance plans tailored to each individual needs and budget.

So, if you’re expecting and planning a trip overseas, and seeking comprehensive international maternity insurance, Pacific Prime is here to help. We offer expertise, impartiality, and service-mindedness to assist you in securing the right coverage.

If you have any further inquiries, do not hesitate to contact us.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our other articles here:

Maternity Planning for Expats: Essential Steps Before Pregnancy Abroad

Expatriate Parenting: Navigating Parenthood Challenges and Resources While Living Abroad

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common exclusions in travel insurance for pregnant travelers?

Most insurers generally exclude normal childbirth and routine doctor checkups. Other pregnancy-related issues like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and hyperemesis gravidarum might be covered for trip cancellation if they occur after your policy start date.

How does travel insurance deal with preexisting pregnancy complications?

Pregnancy isn’t considered a preexisting condition. However, preexisting pregnancy complications may not qualify for coverage, as travel medical policies typically cover “unforeseen” illnesses and injuries.

Is pregnancy considered a medical condition?

In terms of health risks, symptoms, and medical treatment, pregnancy shares many features with conditions that we regard as being diseases. Yet pregnancy is not usually considered a disease despite these similarities. This is partly because pregnancy is not regarded as dysfunctional.

Which insurance plan is best for pregnant expats? 

Maternity insurance is a specialized insurance plan tailored for women during pregnancy and is offered by leading insurance providers. The ideal maternity insurance plan differs for each individual, depending on your preferences.

Content Writer at Pacific Prime Thailand
Veerabhatr is a content writer with over 6 years of experience with a particular penchant for storytelling and marketing, both in print and online. He now works with an experienced team of writers at Pacific Prime, aiming to shed light on the essence and benefits of insurance for companies and individuals by creating engaging, informative content across multiple platforms.

After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences, International Relations from Mahidol University International College, Veerabhatr has forged his career as a content writer in the travel, lifestyle, and real estate industries, writing in both English and Thai. He now continues to hone his skills as a writer at Pacific Prime, looking to engage and educate the audience by simplifying insurance.

Writer by day, and a DJ by night, Veerabhatr is a staunch music lover, and listens to all spectrums of genres available. He also loves to drink beer (moderately), eat all types of food, go to the beach, and learn about different cultures across the globe. He is also a die-hard fan of football and motorsports.
Veerabhatr Sriyananda