Airline rules and travel insurance in pregnancy
In this article
In the Air
Like many moms, you may try to fit in one last trip before your baby arrives. Whether it’s a cross border shopping trip, a visit with a friend on the other side of Canada, or a week at the beach, you are going to need to check out the airline rules for pregnant passengers before you take off.
Most airlines do not carry restrictions on pregnant travelers up to the last month of pregnancy. However, they do recommend that you check with your doctor before flying regardless of your due date. If you are looking especially pregnant you should get a note from your doctor confirming your due date. In the end it is up to the discretion of the flight staff to allow you onboard and a note will verify where you are in your pregnancy despite the size of your belly.
Once you reach your last month there will be more restrictions on air travel. You can read more about different Canadian airlines' policies. In general, airlines allow you to fly until your 36th week and after that, they require a note from your doctor or midwife saying you are fit to travel and confirming your estimated due date.
Each airline has its own set of rules, so it’s important to tell your travel agent or the airline representative that you are pregnant when you call to book a ticket. If you are booking online check the airline’s website. Most mention pregnancy under travelers with special needs. Learn more about United States airline policies. If you are going on an all inclusive trip it may not be obvious which airline is being used so you need to discuss your pregnancy with the holiday company so it can advise you about the airline and its regulations.
Travel by ferry and train
Some ferry operators have the same restrictions for pregnant travelers as airlines. BC Ferry does not have restrictions for pregnant travelers on short trips. Check with their customer service representatives before booking a longer ferry trip. Be sure to confirm the rules for pregnant travelers with other ferry operators. VIA Rail does not have restrictions on pregnant travelers.
So you've found a flight. Before you pay for your tickets you need to make sure you can get travel health insurance.
If you are eligible for Medicare and you are traveling in your home province then you are covered under your provincial health care plan. Simply present your
health card to receive medical benefits.
If you are a Canadian who is eligible for Medicare and you are traveling out of province but inside Canada then you may want to buy travel insurance. The Canada Health Act requires your home province to extend emergency hospital or doctor coverage to you. BUT, the services covered and the amount you will be reimbursed varies depending on your home province’s health plan and its agreement with the province where you are traveling. In other words you could end up with a large medical bill. You can find out exactly what your provincial health plan will cover when you are out of the province but inside Canada on your province’s official Medicare website.
If you are traveling out of the country it’s a whole different story. The Canada Health Act does not entitle you to coverage for health services outside of Canada. At best, your health plan will only cover a portion of your bill. You should buy travel health insurance to ensure adequate coverage.
Travel Insurance for pregnant women
Most travel insurance providers will insure up to 9 weeks before your due date, beyond this, it becomes more difficult. It’s very important to look at the insurance policy's fine print to understand what is not covered.
You can buy travel health insurance at many Canadian banks or Canadian insurance companies. Also your credit card company might offer health and travel insurance. Don’t assume that coverage is automatically included or that the card alone provides adequate coverage. Some companies charge an additional premium for travel coverage. Others require that you pay for your travel arrangements using that card. Check with your credit card company before you go.
Canada's Department Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) suggests that you ask if you travel health insurance policy covers pre-existing medical conditions. You should get an agreement in writing from your insurance company stating that you are covered for such conditions. Otherwise, you could find your claim "null and void" under a pre-existing condition clause. DFAIT also recommends asking about coverage for premature births and related neonatal care.Here are two more travel health insurance tips from DFAIT:
- Carry your travel insurance policy with you. Make sure someone besides you knows how to contact your insurer.
- Get a detailed invoice from the doctor or hospital before returning home. Make a copy of all original receipts for medical services or prescriptions before you submit the original to the insurance company.