A simples guide

How can a pre-existing medical condition impact my travel insurance premium?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, then unfortunately the process of applying for travel insurance can often be more complex. The insurance provider is obviously concerned that you pose a higher risk of needing to claim, and that they could be faced with settling a large medical bill on your behalf. In many cases, conditions from which you have suffered in the past will need to be disclosed, even if you now consider yourself to be symptom free. If you are in any doubt contact your insurance provider directly to see whether you’re covered.

What is defined as a pre-existing medical condition?

Unfortunately, any medical condition, no matter how minor or severe, will need to be disclosed in your travel insurance application. So ailments such as anxiety and depression will all need to be notified to the insurance provider. You should work on the basis that any health issue for which you have previously consulted a doctor or other professional and/or for which you have ever taken medication is to be regarded as a pre-existing condition.

Insurance providers often regard pregnancy as a medical condition for the purposes of travel insurance, and this means it can sometimes be difficult for women to obtain travel insurance in the later stages of pregnancy.


How will an insurance provider assess an application given my condition?

When seeking out a policy that covers you for pre-existing conditions, you need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your personal medical history, and the insurance provider may require very detailed answers to these questions. They will want to know what medical conditions you have experienced, how severe these conditions have been, how they have affected your day-to-day life, when you last experienced symptoms, what medication you have taken etc.

Don’t be tempted not to disclose a particular condition, or to downplay how severe it is, as this could lead to a future claim being refused. Remember that the insurance provider will be able to access your medical records in the event of a claim, and so it’s likely that any non-disclosure will be identified.

Once you’ve provided all the necessary information, the insurance provider will decide whether to offer you insurance, and if so, on what terms. For someone with a pre-existing medical condition, the insurance provider may decide to:

  • Offer cover on standard terms in spite of your condition
  • Refuse to cover the pre-existing condition, but offer cover on standard terms for any new issues that may arise when on holiday
  • Offer cover with other restrictions or special terms
  • Offer cover with a higher excess
  • Offer cover that includes the pre-existing condition, but increase the normal premium, perhaps by a significant amount
  • Decline your application outright

Where you’re travelling to could also affect the insurance provider’s decision. Most of North and Central America (including the United States); China and Hong Kong; and European countries such as Greece, Malta, Spain and Cyprus, are known for their very expensive medical care. These countries all have a high level of private health care, therefore it costs more to receive treatment.

As mentioned above, an insurance provider can refuse to accept your travel insurance application if you apply with a pre-existing condition. Travelling abroad without travel insurance is not recommended, due to the high costs you can be saddled with if you do fall ill, so you need to do everything possible to try and obtain insurance in spite of your condition. In the event you have been advised not to travel it will be very difficult to get any type of cover without approaching a specialist provider.

If you cannot find an insurance provider willing to offer cover, then your last resort option might be to contact a charity that is related to your condition. For example, a cancer charity may be able to help you find an insurance provider willing to offer cover to people living with a terminal condition.

One final word of warning, whilst the European Health Insurance Card allows UK citizens to obtain a certain level of access to medical treatment in most European countries, this is not a substitute for travel insurance. So whether you are travelling to Europe, or further afield, you still need to make every effort to obtain suitable travel insurance.


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