Alcohol Abuse While Travelling – Everything You Need to Know

Having an alcoholic drink while travelling is often synonymous with relaxing and unwinding from the stress of everyday life. Most people would agree that the image of a perfect holiday always includes a cocktail by the pool at sunset. Just imagine yourself in a tropical setting with your beverage of choice, whether it’s a Piña Colada, a glass of wine or even a nice cold beer… While it may seem like an innocent act, alcohol intoxication is one of the most common reasons why travel insurance policies are invalidated!

It is all fun in the sun, until your claim is rejected in the case of an accident if there are proofs that you were under the influence of alcohol when it happened. Before you head out to the next party town or join a scenic winery tour, contact your travel insurance representative to review the clauses and exclusions of your coverage regarding alcohol consumption.

As you search for the best insurance plan to fit your travel needs, keep these points in mind and validate with your travel insurance agent if the following clauses apply to your policy or not:

– Pre-existing conditions:
Certain pre-existing health problems which were considered stable based on your travel insurance clauses such as diabetes or heart conditions can be worsened by alcohol. In the case of a medical emergency while travelling, your claim will be rejected if it is proven that the excessive consumption of alcohol led to the affliction. Insurance benefits don’t apply to expenses incurred due to accidents, death or injuries if there is evidence that at the time of the incident, the health condition leading to the accident, death or injury was exacerbated by the excessive consumption of alcohol.

– Negligence:
Since it is easier to let our guards down while succumbing to our inhibitions after a few too many drinks, any incident will probably void the travel insurance coverage if it is found that the person was under the influence of alcohol. The issue is not about enjoying a drink, it is about being intoxicated and engaging in activities that could result in injury or loss of personal belongings.

– Situation:
In the event of an emergency, the first step is to contact your travel insurance assistance center, regardless of the amount of alcohol ingested. The agent will ask questions pertaining to the incident and inquire whether or not it is related to the consumption of alcohol. It could happen that there is absolutely no correlation between the cause of the incident and being under the influence of alcohol. On the opposite, if it is considered the result of negligence, it should be expected that the policy will be voided. Your claim will have to be assessed thoroughly, so be aware that you might have to cover the expenses out of your pocket.

– Blood-alcohol content: Every country and every travel insurance company has a different definition to what is viewed as excessive or heavy drinking. Check the exclusions of your travel insurance policy to find what the rules are regarding acceptable blood-alcohol content is. As a general rule, most travel insurance companies will simply refer to the legal limit of the country in which they operate. For instance, the Criminal Code of Quebec stipulates that whoever is travelling in the province of Quebec cannot present a blood-alcohol level above the limit imposed (0.08% or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood).

Do not let this information discourage you from having a drink while on holidays! When you are home, you are expected to drink responsibly and with moderation so apply those precautions while travelling. Keep in mind that the same level of vigilance and common sense should be exercised while visiting a foreign country. Here are some safety tips to take into account during your next trip:

– Drink with moderation
If you do not regulate the amount that you drink, you run the risk of not being covered by your travel insurance because of exclusions related to alcohol consumption.
Tip: Stay hydrated and avoid binge drinking. Nursing a hangover during a limited holiday is definitely not a productive use of vacation time!

– Respect the law
Not all countries have the same rules and regulations regarding the legal drinking age, drinking in public, the sale of alcohol at certain times of the day or even the possession of alcohol (like in some Muslim countries for instance).
Tip: Research your destination before leaving to avoid any surprises or hefty fines!

– Do not drink and drive
This is an unnecessary risk which could lead to potentially harsh penalties in some countries. Also, you should absolutely avoid getting into a vehicle if the driver is intoxicated.
Tip: Before heading out plan your return by checking public transit schedules, downloading ride-sharing applications on your smartphone or just writing down the number of a local taxi company.

– Be aware of the content of your drink
Be advised that in many countries, the locals will have their version of home-brewed spirits or some type of moonshine. Because this kind of alcohol is not distilled, it could pose a threat to your health. Additionally, the alcohol content of popular beverages could be much stronger than at home. Understand that drink spiking is a worldwide issue affecting men and women equally and it should not be taken lightly.
Tip: Don’t leave your drink unattended, always keep it with you or within eyesight. Watch while the bartender prepares and serves your drink. Do not accept drinks from strangers!

It is perfectly normal to have an alcoholic drink while on vacation and this should not discourage you to do so. However, because alcohol may impair your judgment, it is important to understand the limitations and exclusions of your travel insurance policy. Contact your travel insurance agent to discuss the best solution for your travel needs, but remember that it is still your holiday so lean back, relax and enjoy yourself.

Article by Nomad Junkies team