Travel Insurance With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: How To Get The Right Coverage And Stay Protected Throughout Your Trip

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The Ultimate Guide To Travel Insurance With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Whether it’s embracing the allure of a new culture, discovering exciting foods, relishing sun-soaked beaches or experiencing enchanting views, travelling can expand your horizons in more ways than one. And if you’ve been here for a while, you know there’s nothing we love more than exploring a new destination!

Yet before setting off on your next journey, it’s important to remember that travelling with a medical condition comes with its own set of challenges. One – absolutely essential – thing to remember is, of course, getting the right medical travel insurance.

While everyone needs travel insurance, living with a pre-existing medical condition means you need to put just a little extra effort into your holiday preparations. But don’t worry: we’re here to guide you through this. 

So, get your passport (and your medical history) ready, and let’s delve into how to get the right travel insurance cover – no matter what medical condition or disability you live with.

Looking for more information on different travel insurance policies?

Read our Beginner’s Guide To Travel Insurance now! 

What Counts As A Pre-Existing Medical Condition For Travel Insurance?

You’ve researched your destination, booked an appointment to get your vaccines, and are just now getting to comparing travel insurance options… When a question comes to mind: what exactly is a pre-existing medical condition, and how will it affect your quote?

In simple terms, a pre-existing medical condition refers to any health condition you’ve experienced before or at the time of taking out your travel insurance policy. Whether it’s a chronic condition, a disability, or a recent health scare, it all falls under this umbrella. (Some mental health conditions, especially ones that have a substantial impact on your daily life, can also be counted as pre-existing medical conditions – check with your GP or insurance provider first.)

But don’t let this news put a damper on your plans! Having a medical condition doesn’t mean you have to miss out on travel adventures. In fact, travel insurance is designed to cater to your needs, even when these conditions are part of your story – all you need is to find a policy that encompasses emergency medical treatment for any and all health conditions you live with. It’s easier than it sounds!

While each insurer might have its unique approach to (and definition of) pre-existing medical conditions, they are likely to consider any of the following a pre-existing medical condition:

  • Heart conditions, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Diabetes, cancer, and other chronic illnesses such as IBS or Crohn’s disease
  • Respiratory issues, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis
  • Joint and bone problems, such as arthritis and gout
  • Any condition you’re awaiting surgery for
  • Any condition you’re awaiting test results for
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or eating disorders

This isn’t an exhaustive list, however, so you’ll want to check with your healthcare provider and/or insurer before booking your trip to find out if your specific condition needs to be disclosed. 

If you have any medical conditions make sure you disclose them so that you can travel with peace of mind and not be liable for any emergency medical bills while on holiday. Suitable and competitive travel insurance is available for people with medical conditions, but you’re likely to benefit from speaking to a specialist broker who can advise on the type of cover you need and ensure that you have adequate protection. BIBA’s Travel Medical Directory, which is recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority, can help you find a specialist broker.

BIBA – British Insurance Brokers’ Association
A sunny promenade by the sea with a lamppost in the background.

Your GP or care team may also ask you to undertake tests or a general medical screening before you go to assess any potential travel risks associated with your medical condition. This may include looking into your medical history to find out about any new or existing health issues, allergies, medications you’re taking, and recent medical treatments or surgeries. 

Assessing the stability of your current conditions will be crucial. Your GP will need to know whether your conditions are under control and unlikely to worsen while you’re away in order to determine if you’re fit for travel and if any precautions need to be taken.

Depending on your destination, they might look into your vaccination history to find out if you’re up-to-date with any necessary vaccines for your travels. Your current medications should also be on the checklist, and your GP may want to review what you’re taking and offer guidance on managing them while you’re abroad – this might involve adjusting dosages or schedules, especially if you’re crossing time zones.

Based on your health assessment and travel plans, your GP will be able to advise you on potential health risks at your destination and give you the all-clear to travel. They’ll also be on hand to reassure you and provide key advice on staying healthy during your holiday – for example, how to manage your symptoms during the trip and focus on your physical and mental wellbeing.

Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

As you gear up for your next adventure and tally up all your expenses, you may come to wonder: is medical travel insurance really worth considering? The answer is yes – especially for those of us living with medical conditions.

A map of the world, illustrating the topic of travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions.

Remember, travel insurance isn’t just about money, and the cheapest travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions may not be the best option for you. Beyond helping with problems like lost or stolen bags, flight delays, or even cancellations, travel insurance has an even more important job – it acts as a safety net that is there to catch you in any eventuality, especially if something happens with your health. This becomes even more important if you have existing health issues.

Imagine this: you’re exploring a new place, and suddenly, you don’t feel well. Without travel insurance, getting medical help in a foreign country might feel really confusing, and could potentially turn out to be very expensive. But if you have good coverage, you know you can go to the doctor without worrying about the cost – giving you peace of mind and letting you focus on enjoying your trip.

What Does Medical Travel Insurance Cover?

So, we’ve established just how important getting travel insurance is. But what exactly does it cover, and what kind of policy do you need? 

There are many travel insurance providers out there who cover a wide range of medical conditions and disabilities – you may need to use comparison websites or do some deep diving in order to find the best travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. Have a look through your options before you book and get quotes for well-known companies including AllClear (Platinum policy), InsureandGo (Black policy), NFU Mutual,  the Post Office travel insurance, Staysure and Avanti travel insurance. 

As a rule of thumb, a good policy for travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions will provide cover of at least £1m towards the cost of medical treatment, as well as the cost of emergency medical evacuation and repatriation if you need to come back home for emergency treatment. Cheap travel insurance with medical conditions exists – just make sure it covers the basics and your medical conditions.

For the lucky ones setting sail on a cruise, look for policies that include cruise cover – this extends coverage to medical emergencies that might occur on board or during shore excursions. And for the daredevils planning on engaging in adventurous activities such as skiing, scuba diving, hiking, or ziplining – make sure your policy covers these activities! (Some policies might require an additional premium for coverage, but better safe than sorry.)

A woman on a swing above a luscious green forest.

What about pre-existing conditions, then? Some policies might include coverage for these conditions as standard, while others might require an additional premium or extra customisation. Remember it is your responsibility to double-check that your pre-existing conditions are correctly listed on your insurance documents – this will ensure you have no unpleasant surprises if you need medical attention related to your conditions during your trip.

One more thing to keep in mind: in the (unfortunate) age of coronavirus, it’s important to be aware of the evolving landscape of holiday insurance for medical conditions. Some policies might offer coronavirus insurance and cover most COVID-19-related issues, while others might not. Make sure to check with your insurance provider if this is a concern to you.

For UK residents, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), also known as the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) offers access to state-provided healthcare during temporary stays in the European Union (EU) countries or Switzerland. However, it’s important to note that the EHIC might not cover all costs, especially for pre-existing conditions or non-urgent treatments. Therefore, it’s advisable to complement your EHIC with a comprehensive travel insurance policy to ensure you’ll be adequately covered in any situation.

Travel Insurance Cover Checklist

For the most complete protection, here’s everything your travel insurance policy should include:

  • Cancellations, delays and missed departures
  • Medical expenses and repatriation
  • Personal accident cover
  • Personal liability 
  • Legal expenses
  • Personal belongings (loss, damage, or theft)
  • Cruise cover (if relevant)
  • Adventurous activities (if relevant)
  • Car and driving assurance (if relevant)

Our Beginner’s Guide To Travel Insurance contains everything you need to know about the different types of insurance available for travellers – read the article here.

What Happens If You Don’t Declare Pre-Existing Medical Conditions?

We understand how vulnerable it can feel to tell another person – especially a stranger – about your medical conditions. However, it’s absolutely crucial to declare your pre-existing conditions when you’re looking for the best travel insurance with pre-existing conditions. Why? Because by openly communicating your health history, you’re ensuring that your policy is tailored to your specific requirements.

Being honest when declaring your medical conditions isn’t just about checking boxes – it’s the basis for solid insurance cover and making sure you can stay healthy and worry-free on your journey. By being upfront about your health conditions, you make sure your policy is right for you and you’ll be covered in the event of a medical emergency. This means you’re protected when you really need it, without any nasty surprises.

So, before you head out on your next adventure, make sure you let your insurer know of any existing conditions when they ask. That way, they can build a policy that fits you perfectly. 

When Should I Take Out Travel Insurance?

The short answer? Sooner rather than later! Whether you’re going on a weekend getaway to Europe, a relaxing beach holiday, or a year-long journey around the world, travel insurance with a medical condition is an imperative. Our advice would be to take out a policy straight after booking your trip – yes, even if it’s months away!

A woman's wrist wearing a delicate watch.

In fact, the moment you’ve booked your trip is the perfect time to start shopping for travel insurance. Why? Because life is unpredictable, and even the most carefully laid plans can suddenly be affected by outside circumstances, like plane delays and hotel cancellations. By securing your coverage early, you’re safeguarding yourself against unforeseen events that might lead to trip cancellations or disruptions.

If you have a disability or a pre-existing medical condition, early planning becomes even more important. Travel insurance policies often require a waiting period before coverage kicks in for pre-existing conditions; this waiting period ensures that you’re covered for any unexpected medical issues related to your existing health concerns. By securing your policy well in advance, you’re giving yourself the assurance of full protection against potential health challenges during your travels.

The length of the waiting period can vary depending on the insurer and the specific policy – some insurers may have waiting periods of 24 hours or longer before your cover comes into effect and you can make a claim. It is crucial to discuss this aspect with your chosen insurer to fully understand the waiting period applicable to your policy and know how quickly you’ll be protected against potential health hiccups during your travels.

Can I Bring Medicine With Me When Travelling?

Taking your necessary medication on holiday is crucial for maintaining your health while away from home. Bringing medicine with you when travelling is of course allowed, but it’s important to be aware of regulations and guidelines to ensure a smooth journey.

You can bring prescription and over-the-counter medication with you, both in tablet and liquid forms. You may want to carry a copy of your prescription or a doctor’s note for prescription medication, especially when crossing international borders. When packing your medication, keep it in your carry-on luggage and store any liquids in travel-sized containers if travelling by plane. This way, you have easy access to it during your journey, and you won’t be left without your essentials if your checked baggage is delayed or lost!

An aesthetic photo of a woman's hands holding a pack of red pills, illustrating the topic of travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions

Make sure your medication is in its original packaging, clearly labelled with your name, the medication name, dosage instructions, and your doctor’s details in case of an emergency. (And if you’ll be travelling to a country where English isn’t the main language, bring a copy of our downloadable medical alert letters with you for help with translating.)

FAQ For Travel Insurance With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Can I get travel insurance while waiting for surgery?

Certainly! Most insurance providers will cover you even if you have pre-existing medical conditions, including waiting for surgery. When purchasing insurance, it’s crucial to disclose your medical status honestly to ensure you get the right coverage. While coverage specifics vary, most policies offer protection for medical treatment abroad and will take your pre-existing conditions into account. Insurers might require a medical screening, involving questions about your health, to tailor the coverage you’ll receive. If you do have to undergo a screening, remember that being upfront about your health is essential for a valid and comprehensive policy!

Does pregnancy count as a pre-existing medical condition?

Pregnancy is generally not classified as a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance purposes. Most standard travel insurance policies do not consider pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, and you will not need to declare it with your travel insurance provider (unless you wish to do so). However, it’s crucial to review policy terms carefully! Some insurers might have specific conditions related to pregnancy, such as coverage limits or restrictions on travelling during certain stages of pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s advisable to check with your chosen insurance provider to ensure you understand the extent of coverage for any pregnancy-related situations during your travels.

Can you get travel insurance that excludes pre-existing conditions?

You absolutely can – but we really don’t recommend it. Some insurance providers do offer policies (usually known as “basic” or “standard” plans) that may not cover pre-existing conditions. These policies often provide more limited coverage at a lower price, which can make them a good option if you’re looking to cut down on holiday costs. However, it’s absolutely essential to thoroughly review the policy terms and conditions before purchasing, as exclusions can vary widely. Keep in mind that if you choose a policy that excludes pre-existing conditions, you won’t be covered for any medical issues related to those conditions during your trip. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, we strongly advise you to consider comprehensive policies that provide coverage for these conditions. This will ensure you’re adequately protected in case of unexpected health issues while travelling.

How do I claim on travel insurance?

If a health emergency does occur during your travels and you need to make a travel insurance claim, begin by contacting your insurance provider as soon as possible – most companies will have a 24/7 helpline you can ring for assistance. You’ll then need to complete a claim form, detailing the incident and associated expenses. Attach essential supporting documents like medical reports, receipts, and doctor’s notes to substantiate your claim. Make sure that you adhere to any specified claim submission deadlines and do not waste time before making your claim. After submitting it, your insurer will review the documentation and if necessary, they might reach out for more information. Once your claim is approved, you’ll receive compensation or reimbursement per your policy terms – hopefully covering all your expenses!

Summary On Travel Insurance With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

So, you’ve now learned all you need to know about travel insurance! Before you embark on your next adventure, just remember that travelling with a medical condition requires a bit of extra planning. While it shouldn’t hold you back from travelling, it should inspire you to take extra precautions and secure appropriate medical travel insurance.

Some of the main aspects to keep in mind are getting the right coverage for your needs by declaring your medical conditions. When comparing travel insurance options, you’ll likely come across the term “pre-existing medical condition.” It refers to any health condition you’ve experienced before or at the time of purchasing the policy. Chronic conditions, disabilities, and recent health issues fall under this category. Mental health conditions can also be included – consult your GP or insurer for guidance.

While travel insurance should encompass emergency medical treatment for all your health conditions, don’t forget to take out extra cover like cruise cover or dangerous activities if you’ll be taking part in anything not usually covered by standard travel insurance. And don’t wait to buy a policy! Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a year-long expedition, secure travel insurance right after booking your trip. This is vital if you have a pre-existing medical condition, as policies may have waiting periods for coverage related to these conditions.

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