Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions
Everyone knows that it’s a wise decision to take out travel insurance before you go away, but this can be worrying if you have pre-existing medical conditions that some travel insurance companies might not cover. Luckily there are a wide range of specialist insurance providers that are able to offer topnotch medical travel insurance at competitive prices, and you can find details about some of the best ones below.
Which conditions or illnesses do travel insurance providers class as pre-existing conditions?
In the broadest sense a pre-existing condition is any medical condition that was diagnosed before you took out your travel insurance policy, but in practice many travel insurance providers only define it as a pre-existing condition if you are receiving treatment for it or taking medication to treat it. Some examples of pre-existing medical conditions that might affect your travel insurance premium include:
- Heart conditions
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Each insurer should list the specific medical conditions and illnesses they do and don’t cover on their travel insurance policies, so always read the terms of each policy before you sign on that dotted line. It’s also worth bearing in mind that pre-existing conditions can include those where there are no physical symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.
Do I need travel insurance for pre-existing conditions?
Travel insurance is not a legal requirement, so no matter where you’re going and no matter what your condition you can choose to forego travel insurance if you wish.
It is usually a very wise investment, though, because most travel insurance policies are relatively cheap, while the cost of dealing with an issue overseas can be surprisingly expensive – particularly if the issue means you require emergency medical treatment.
While people in the UK benefit from free medical treatment, most other countries do charge for medical care and it’s important not to underestimate just how expensive it can be. For example, case studies from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) report that it cost £48,733 for a British tourist to be treated and flown home after a cycling accident in Cambodia.
If you don’t have travel insurance, or the policy you took out excluded a pre-existing medical condition you’ve been diagnosed with, you’d have to meet the resulting costs yourself.
As with standard travel insurance policies, medical travel insurance can cover you for a wide range of other eventualities that aren’t necessarily health-related, such as:
- Any luggage that is accidently lost, damaged or stolen
- Cancellation and curtailment if you have to abandon or cut short your holiday
- The cost of bringing you back home (repatriation) in an emergency
- Personal liability costs such as legal fees and compensation if you are involved in an accident someone blames you for their injuries or damage to their property.
You’ll also be able to add a range of optional extras to your medical travel insurance policy so that it gives you all the protection you need, for example:
- Winter sports insurance – covers the cost of mountain rescue and can compensate you for accidentally lost, damaged or stolen equipment whether it’s hired or owned.
- Cruise insurance – covers events like cabin confinement and missed port stops.
- Golf holiday insurance – covers equipment and accessories like your clubs, bags and shoes. Some policies also cover cancellation fees if your game is rained off.
Why do I need to tell my insurer about my condition?
Insurers need to know as much as they can about you and your holiday plans so that they can accurately work out your premium.
If you do have a medical condition this potentially increases the risk of you making a claim for health reasons. The care and medication you need might also cost more overseas, which is why premiums for anyone with a pre-existing condition tends to be higher than average.
When your insurer asks about your medical history it’s important to be honest – even if you’re in remission or have been given a clean bill of health, your insurance provider will still need to know about the condition. If you don’t disclose something when asked you could invalidate your policy, which means your insurer can refuse to pay out if you make a claim.
Is pregnancy classed a pre-existing medical condition?
Pregnancy is generally not considered a pre-existing condition and standard policies should cover you for any emergencies such as early labour. If you’ve had complications during pregnancy then let your insurer know so that they can add on extra cover if needed.
If you are pregnant, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advise the safest time to fly is:
- Before 37 weeks if you’re pregnant with one baby
- Before 32 weeks if you’re carrying twins or triplets.
If you do need to fly after this, speak to your insurer to see if you’ll still be covered (although it’s worth pointing out that you may find that airlines won’t let you fly after 37 weeks, or 32 if you’re expecting twins).
Is a terminal illness classed a pre-existing medical condition?
Yes, you’ll usually need medical travel insurance rather than standard travel insurance if you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, because the higher risk your prognosis represents to the insurer means a standard policy usually wouldn’t cover the cost of any medical treatment or emergency care you might require while you’re away.
However, it’s worth mentioning that travel insurance for patients with a terminal illness can sometimes be prohibitively expensive, particularly if your doctors have indicated your condition might deteriorate in the near future, in which case you could be forced to opt for a policy that excludes your condition (and any related ailments). However, it is worth comparing medical travel insurance quotes before deciding on whether or not you should opt for a policy that specifically excludes medical expenses.
I have an EHIC, do I still need travel insurance for medical conditions?
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) means you can get the same level of medical treatment as locals in that country. This could mean treatment at a reduced cost or for free.
While an EHIC is a very useful tool, it’s not a substitute for travel insurance – especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
In many parts of Europe, subsidised or free healthcare is only available in state-funded hospitals, so if you’re staying somewhere remote there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to access this.
Your EHIC is also only valid in EU countries, so if you’re travelling elsewhere you should make medical travel insurance a top priority.
Does the country I’m visiting impact the cost of medical travel insurance?
Yes, if you have a pre-existing medical condition that means you have to opt for a medical travel insurance policy the country or countries you plan to visit can have an affect on your insurance premium, since the cost of medical treatment varies dramatically from one country to the next.
For example, healthcare is very expensive in the USA, whereas it is much cheaper or even free in some parts of Europe.
However, it’s worth noting that insurers group destinations according to their own rules, so knowing what region a country is classed under isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. For instance, popular holiday hotspots like Egypt, Turkey and Morocco are often classed as Europe for insurance purposes.
Similarly, worldwide destinations aren’t as clear cut either, and you can buy policies for:
If you are going to the US it’s vital that you check that your medical travel insurance covers you for medical treatment there, because the USA has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world.
Do I need annual or single-trip medical travel insurance?
If you only take one holiday in any given year then a single-trip medical travel insurance policy should be all you’ll need. If you take two or more holidays within a 12-month period, though, then annual or multi-trip cover could be better value.
Whether you choose a single or multi-trip policy, though, it’s important to bear in mind that insurers set a limit on how long each holiday can last – usually the limit is 31 days. If you have an annual policy you can still go away several times each year, but each holiday cannot be more than the limit set.
If you’re going to be away for a little longer you can ask your insurer to adjust your pre-existing medical travel insurance accordingly.
Ready to compare pre-existing medical travel insurance policies?
Cost can play a big part when it comes to choosing travel insurance, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition where premiums may be higher.
But when you compare policies it’s important to check the small print, because the cheapest policies often have a more extensive list of exclusions. You should also bear in mind that you may be asked some sensitive questions about your condition or general health but rest assured that this will simply be routine for many specialist insurers.
To compare medical travel insurance policies simply choose the providers you’re interested in from the panel above, and then clickthrough to their site to get a quote.
The Money and Pension Service (MaPs) has also launched a directory of insurance providers, who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service* or by calling the British Insurance Brokers Association on 0370 950 1790.