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Compare Travel Insurance Travel Insurance Tips Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

1 October, 2019 By Crystal Moran

Let's face it, there are a lot of travellers out there that aren't afforded the luxury of owning a clean bill of health.  At Compare Travel Insurance, we want all Australians to be able to travel knowing that they're covered for things that go wrong on their holiday, including anything that arises from an existing health condition.  We're here to help you decipher the terms and alleviate the stress that comes with trying to find cover for your medical conditions.

Having pre-existing medical conditions doesn't mean you can't get travel insurance. It simply means that you need to dig a little deeper when doing your research.

What is considered a pre-existing condition?

As the name suggests, a pre-existing medical condition is a condition that exists at the time, or before you purchase your travel insurance.

Whether or not you need to declare a broken arm from two years ago, or that you're living with diabetes will depend on your chosen insurer.  Every insurer has different rules for what is considered an existing medical condition, so it's important to pay attention to any probing questions around medical conditions to determine what you need to declare.

Typically, a pre-existing condition includes any diagnosed medical, physical or mental condition, defect, disease or illness that you are aware of and have sought treatment for in the last one to five years.

Should I declare my medical conditions?

Absolutely! It can be tempting to not disclose medical conditions to your insurer to save time or reduce the cost of taking out travel insurance.  However, if you put in a medical claim which the doctors say is related to your pre-existing condition, and you aren't covered for that condition, your claim is void and you could be left with eyewatering medical bills!

Do I have to pay extra to cover my medical conditions?

Good news - many travel insurance brands automatically cover a range of minor medical conditions free of charge. Often common illnesses like asthma, diabetes and high cholesterol are covered without an additional fee.  Whether or not you need to declare them will depend on the insurer, when you were diagnosed, whether your condition is stable, and if you have any other related conditions.

Other medical conditions such as autoimmune, brain, cardiovascular, heart or respiratory & lung conditions will require a medical assessment in order to obtain cover.  Where cover can be offered you will often have the option to pay an additional premium or have the condition(s) excluded.

How do I declare my conditions?

If your condition isn't automatically covered by your insurer, you will be required to fill out a medical assessment form.  Many brands have introduced online medical screenings where you can answer a couple of questions about your condition and find out immediately whether you can get cover and at what price.

The vast majority of insurers use the same medical screening software by a company called Verisk (formerly Healix) which will generate a ‘medical risk score’.  Some use hybrid versions of this and a few may use a different specialist platform.

The insurer determines which level of risk they want to consider covering.  They will decide whether they will cover your condition, whether they will cover you but exclude your condition, and if there is an additional premium.

Which insurers offer online medical assessments?

General Advice Warning: The contents of this article were accurate at the time of writing. Insurers change their policies from time to time, so some information may have changed. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement of your chosen insurer to understand what is covered and what isn't. The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account any personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your personal circumstances.

Existing medical conditions that may not be covered.

There are some conditions that insurers will not cover. This does not mean that you cannot take out travel insurance. It simply means that any claim arising from, or related to that condition will not be covered. 

Conditions such as terminal illness, requiring oxygen, awaiting surgery, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, congestive heart failure and recurring pain are typically not covered.

What if I can't find cover for my medical conditions?

Most insurers steer clear of serious conditions and terminal illnesses but there are specialists out there.  If you're struggling to find cover for your condition, you may have luck with a specialist medical travel insurer such as AllClear. They promote that any medical condition is considered and can offer cover for any age.

Remember you can still buy travel insurance with pre-existing conditions - but it just means you may not be covered for any claims related to, exacerbated by, or arising from that pre-existing medical condition without prior approval.

What are the next steps?

Once you've done your travel insurance comparison, click on your policy choice and we will direct you to your chosen insurer's site to confirm your quote. Whether you're purchasing online or over the phone, you will usually be prompted to disclose pre-existing medical conditions during the purchase process. When purchasing online, once you have selected 'Yes' to cover pre-existing medical conditions, premium loadings are applied at the end of a questionnaire.

Are you a mature traveller?

If you are over the age of 50, finding a suitable policy to cover your pre-existing medical conditions can be a little more tricky. Read our guide to seniors travel insurance for some top tips.

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Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

Pre-Existing medical conditions FAQs

Can't find what you're looking for? We answer some of the top questions on getting travel cover for pre-existing medical conditions.

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

Not all insurers are the same, but a pre-existing medical condition can be defined as any illness, disease, injury or other condition for which you experienced symptoms or sought treatment for prior to purchasing a policy. The associated time period varies between insurers but usually refers to the last couple of years.

Common medical conditions that need to be declared to obtain cover include cardiac or heart conditions, circulatory conditions, deep vein thrombosis, respiratory & lung conditions and most types of cancer. It also includes any conditions requiring surgery in the last two years or for which you are awaiting surgery. Every insurer has variants to their definition of an existing medical condition, so be sure to check their Product Disclosure Statement before you buy.

Is pregnancy considered a medical condition?

Generally speaking, most insurers do not consider pregnancy itself to be a pre-existing condition and automatically cover pregnant people up to a certain gestation. The maximum gestation usually ranges between 19 to 32 week depending on the brand. If you have pregnancy-related complications, such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, these will need to be declared or your policy may be invalid. Learn more about pregnancy travel insurance.

What medical conditions are not covered by travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers a wide range of medical conditions but there are certain scenarios not covered. Not all travel insurance policies are the same, but the following chronic conditions and medical scenarios are often excluded from cover:

- If you require oxygen therapy or home oxygen for your trip.
- If you have had or are having an organ transplant in the future.
- If you are suffering from a drug or alcohol induced condition.
- If you booked or undertook travel after a terminal illness or palliative prognosis with a shortened life expectancy was diagnosed.
- If you have an undiagnosed condition.

Does travel insurance cover mental illness?

Yes. Mental health conditions and illnesses are treated in the same way as physical conditions. If the condition is pre-existing, you will need to declare it via a medical screening process. Learn more about mental illness and travel insurance.

Does travel insurance cover diabetes?

Yes, many travel cover brands cover diabetes. Depending on the nature of your diabetes, it may be covered automatically without medical screening. Learn more about the rules around travel insurance for diabetes.

Does travel insurance cover heart conditions like heart attacks or stents?

Yes, many brands cover for a range of heart conditions, typically depending on factors such as how long ago your condition started, how many medications you are on, and if you've ever required surgery. Learn more about travel insurance for heart conditions and which insurers offer it here.

Does travel insurance cover cancer?

Yes, a small number of travel insurers offer coverage for cancer, depending on the nature of your condition. Our guide on travel insurance when you have cancer lists a few insurers which can provide cover following a medical screening. Otherwise, you can try a specialist medical travel insurer, AllClear Travel Insurance.

Which insurers let you declare your medical conditions online?

Many insurers have online medical screening forms, so you can declare your condition and find out if they'll cover you straight away. You see which travel insurers offer this in our table above.

further Reading

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What activities are covered?

Do you prefer your holidays with thrills? If you’re planning on doing some risky activities on your trip- check this guide out first. 


Travel Insurance and Asthma

Want to know which insurers cover asthma?We've got you covered! Check out our handy guide so you can get the most out of your trip.


Pregnancy travel insurance guide

Bun in the oven? Make sure your chosen insurer covers to your gestation limit - it's important to be protected when travelling while pregnant.

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