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Compare Travel Insurance Travel Insurance Tips Pre-existing medical conditions

Pre-existing medical conditions

21 January, 2020 By Crystal Moran

If you've got some health issues, this doesn't mean you need to rule out travel insurance – you can still buy it. You've just gotta do a bit more hunting to find the right coverage that fits your health situation and budget. Adding coverage for your existing conditions means you're still good to go for emergency medical help and hospital services related to your health issues.

What is a pre-existing condition? | Should I declare my medical conditions? | Do I have to pay extra? | How do I declare my conditions? | Which insurers cover pre-existing conditions? | Conditions which aren't covered | What if I can't find cover? | Medical FAQs

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing medical condition, as the term implies, refers to a condition that exists at the time of, or predates, the purchase of your travel insurance.

Whether you need to declare a broken arm from two years prior or the management of a chronic condition like diabetes varies among insurers. Each insurance provider will have its own criteria for identifying pre-existing medical conditions. If in doubt it's worth discussing further with your insurer.

Generally, a pre-existing condition will refer to any diagnosed medical, physical, or mental health issue that you knew about and got treated for in the last one to five years. Insurers also throw in the mix everyday stuff like asthma, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, in addition to big-league events like heart attacks, strokes, or cancers that occurred at any point in your life. If you're unsure, check out the fine print in your insurer's policy.


should I declare My Medical conditions?

Some insurance providers automatically include coverage for certain common and low-risk conditions without requiring you to declare them. However, this will depend on your circumstances and whether or not you meet your insurer's specific critieria, so it's crucial to meticulously review the policy details.

If a particular condition isn't automatically covered, it's important for you to disclose it. While it might be tempting to skip over some medical details to save time or reduce insurance costs, it's a risky move. If you end up filing a medical claim related to an undisclosed pre-existing condition, and it's not covered, your claim could be invalidated, leaving you with substantial medical expenses. Taking the time to provide accurate information is an investment in avoiding potential financial challenges down the road.

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

Great news – many travel insurance providers automatically include coverage for a variety of minor medical conditions at no extra cost. Frequently, common ailments like asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol are automatically covered without any additional fees. Whether or not you need to disclose them hinges on factors such as the insurer's policy, the time of your diagnosis, the stability of your condition, and the presence of any related conditions – always refer to the policy details for clarity.

For other medical conditions, such as autoimmune, brain, cardiovascular, heart, respiratory, and lung conditions, a medical assessment is typically required for coverage. In cases where coverage is feasible, you often have the choice to pay an additional premium or opt for the exclusion of the condition(s).


How do I declare my medical conditions?

If your condition isn't automatically covered by your insurer, you'll likely need to complete a medical assessment form. Many insurance brands now offer convenient online medical screenings, where you can answer a few questions about your condition to promptly determine whether coverage is available and at what cost. Typically, this step occurs during the second or third page of the quote process.

The majority of insurers utilize the same medical screening software provided by a company called Verisk (formerly Healix), which generates a 'medical risk score.' Some insurers use hybrid versions of this software, and a few may opt for a different specialist platform.

The insurer then assesses the level of risk they are willing to consider for coverage. They make decisions on whether to cover your condition, cover you with an exclusion for your condition, or apply an additional premium. This process allows insurers to tailor coverage to individual health scenarios.

medical coverage travel cover

Which insurers offer pre-existing 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.

Conditions which may not be covered

Certain conditions fall outside the scope of coverage for insurers. However, this doesn't mean you can't get travel insurance; rather, it means that any claims arising from or connected to those specific conditions will not be covered.

Conditions like terminal illness, the need for oxygen, pending surgery, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, specific types of cancer, congestive heart failure, and recurring pain are generally excluded from coverage. It's crucial to be aware of these exclusions to make informed decisions about your travel insurance and ensure you have appropriate coverage for your specific health circumstances.

Keep in mind that while you may not be able to get cover for your condition, 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. 

pre-existing medical conditions

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

Many mainstream insurers tend to avoid offering coverage for serious conditions and terminal illnesses, but specialized options are available. If you encounter difficulties securing cover for your specific condition, a specialist medical travel insurer like AllClear may be worth considering. These insurers specialize in accommodating a wide range of medical conditions and often emphasize their ability to consider any condition while providing coverage for individuals of any age.

Remember you can still buy travel insurance with pre-existing conditions - 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.

Pre-existing medical conditions FAQs

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

Insurers differ in their definitions, but broadly, a pre-existing medical condition is characterized as any illness, disease, injury, or condition for which you displayed symptoms or sought treatment before purchasing an insurance policy. The specific timeframe for this assessment varies among insurers but typically encompasses the last few years. Conditions such as cardiac or heart issues, circulatory disorders, deep vein thrombosis, respiratory and lung ailments, and most forms of cancer are commonly required to be declared for coverage. This also extends to conditions necessitating surgery within the past two years or those awaiting surgical intervention. Given the variations in insurers' definitions, it is crucial to review their Product Disclosure Statement before making a purchase to ensure a clear understanding of their stance on pre-existing medical conditions.

Is pregnancy considered a medical condition?

In general, pregnancy is not typically regarded as a pre-existing condition by most insurers, and they usually provide automatic coverage for pregnant individuals up to a specific gestation period. The maximum gestation covered typically varies between 19 to 32 weeks, depending on the insurance brand. However, it's crucial to note that complications related to pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, must be declared, or your policy may be deemed invalid. To delve deeper into this topic, consider exploring additional resources or seeking more information. Learn more about pregnancy travel insurance.

What medical conditions are not covered by travel insurance?

Travel insurance typically encompasses a broad spectrum of medical conditions, yet certain scenarios are commonly excluded. While specifics can vary among policies, chronic conditions and medical situations often excluded from coverage include:

- Needing oxygen therapy or home oxygen during your trip.
- Undergoing or planning an organ transplant.
- Experiencing a condition induced by drug or alcohol use.
- Travelling after being diagnosed with a terminal illness or given a palliative prognosis with a shortened life expectancy.
- Having an undiagnosed medical condition.

Does travel insurance cover mental illness?

Absolutely. Mental health conditions and illnesses are handled with the same consideration as physical conditions when it comes to travel insurance. If you have a pre-existing mental health condition, it's necessary to declare it through the medical screening process. This ensures that your insurer is aware of your specific health situation and can provide appropriate coverage tailored to your needs. Always be transparent about your mental health history during the application process to avoid complications in the event of a claim. Learn more about mental illness and travel insurance.

Does travel insurance cover diabetes?

Numerous travel insurance providers do offer coverage for diabetes. Depending on the type and severity of your diabetes, it might even be included automatically without the need for a medical screening. To gain a better understanding of the specific rules and conditions surrounding diabetes coverage, it's advisable to delve into the policy details or reach out to the insurance provider for more information. Learn more about travel insurance for diabetes.

Does travel insurance cover elective, cosmetic or dental surgery overseas?

No, this would not be considered a pre-existing condition that you could get coverage for, as most brands have general exclusions if you are awaiting or seeking surgery. If you experienced complications due to elective, cosmetic or dental surgery overseas, it is unlikely you would have any provision to claim.

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

Certainly! Numerous travel insurance brands do provide coverage for a variety of heart conditions. The extent of coverage often depends on factors such as the duration of your condition, the number of medications you are currently taking, and whether you've undergone any surgeries related to the heart condition. It's essential to review the specific terms and conditions of the insurance policy to understand the criteria and coverage details for heart-related conditions. This ensures that you have the appropriate coverage tailored to your individual health situation. Learn more about travel insurance for heart conditions and which insurers offer it here.

Does travel insurance cover cancer?

Indeed, some travel insurers do provide coverage for individuals with cancer, but the availability of coverage often depends on the nature and specifics 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?

Numerous insurers provide online medical screening forms, allowing you to declare your condition and promptly determine if they will provide coverage. To identify which travel insurers offer this convenient feature, you can refer to the table above for a comprehensive overview. This allows you to efficiently navigate the process of declaring your condition and securing the coverage you need for your travels.

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.

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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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