Can I get travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions?
You can still get travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as cancer or diabetes. However, you may need a specialist policy as not all providers offer cover for pre-existing conditions in a standard policy.
What is considered a pre-existing medical condition?
A pre-existing medical condition is an illness or injury that exists before, or at the time, you take out an insurance policy.
A list of most common pre-existing medical conditions includes:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- respiratory problems including asthma
- joint and bone inflammation
- chronic illnesses such as cancer or stomach problems
Even non-physical conditions such as anxiety or depression should be disclosed to your insurance provider.
Pregnancy isn't usually considered to be a medical condition. Your insurance should cover you if you have a pregnancy-related emergency abroad, providing you haven't had any complications beforehand, and you're less than 37 weeks pregnant or 33 weeks pregnant with twins. As this can vary among insurance providers, it's advisable to check directly with your provider before you travel.
From 17 May 2021, a travel traffic light system has been introduced and trips to green listed countries will be legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant local authority, which can be found here.
If a country is on the green list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you're aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and to check travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed at short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice for the latest information.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to most amber and red listed countries. Should you choose to travel against the FCDO rules, you will not be covered by any travel insurance policy you purchase. Some providers do offer cover for international travel if you’re travelling for essential purposes, however most do not. In all cases, should you have any queries please check the policy wording or contact your chosen provider before purchasing to ensure the cover meets your needs.
Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.Find out more here
Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions
Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has launched a directory of insurance providers on its Money Advice Service website that 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.
How does medical travel insurance work?
Taking out travel insurance with a medical condition is a bit different than usual. You’ll usually be asked a series of questions about your health and medical history, and you’ll need to be as honest and accurate as possible. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be asked to complete a medical exam.
This will allow insurance providers to tailor the policy to your needs, covering you for the things you need most. If you don’t disclose a condition or aren’t honest about its severity, you’ll usually find that your claim gets rejected and your policy is voided. This means you’ll have to pay for any medical treatment yourself, which can run into the tens of thousands of pounds when abroad.
Depending on the results of your questionnaire or medical exam, you’ll find out which policies you may be eligible for. However, some providers may offer you cover that excludes your listed medical conditions, or charge you a higher premium to include them in your policy.
Will an insurance provider approve my application?
Potential insurance providers will want to know about your medical history, to determine any risk factors when considering covering you. They’ll ask for quite detailed information, so be prepared to answer specific questions about your health, or even take part in a medical screening. If you don't provide honest and accurate information about your medical history, it may invalidate your policy.
You’ll be asked how severe any pre-existing conditions are (or were when you last experienced symptoms) and what medication you took.
It might seem intrusive, but this information helps insurance providers assess the risk factors and build up a picture of how likely you’ll require medical treatment while you’re on holiday.
Once you’ve disclosed all the required information, a travel insurance provider may:
- offer cover on standard terms despite your condition
- refuse to cover the pre-existing condition, but offer to insure you on standard terms for any new issues that may arise while 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
If you can’t find an insurance provider, then it’s worth contacting a charity connected to your condition as they may be able to direct you to one that will cover you.
How can I find the right cover if I have a medical condition?
One of the best ways to find the right travel insurance, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, is to simply find out what’s out there and compare the offers. Not only will this help you save money, by finding cheaper premiums, but you’ll also be able to compare the features and exclusions of each policy.
It’s vital that you find the right level of protection for you. It’s great to get the cheapest travel insurance, but if you’re not covered for the things that matter, you may as well not have it at all. There’s a lot of information out there, and lots of different options to tailor your policy to your needs.
With Compare the Market, you can simply tell us what you expect to be doing while you’re away, where you’re going, and how long you’ll be gone for. With a few extra questions about your medical requirements, we can bring you a selection of quotes that are suited to you and do not contain any exclusions for medical conditions that have been disclosed. You can then compare the benefits of each, and make the right choice.
How can I get cheaper travel insurance with a medical condition?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may find that travel insurance is more expensive. However, there are some things you can do to get cheap medical travel insurance:
- Pay a higher excess – if you offer to pay more in excess, your insurance provider will usually reward you with a cheaper deal, as you’re either less likely to make a claim, or will be paying more towards it.
- Consider annual travel insurance – if you’re a regular traveller, you might find that an annual or multi-trip policy offers a decent discount.
- Compare travel insurance quotes – one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting cheaper travel insurance with a medical condition is to compare quotes with Compare the Market. We can help you compare dozens of providers in minutes, allowing you to select the cheapest travel insurance policy from your results.
Frequently asked questions
Does it matter where I’m travelling to?
Where you’re travelling to could also impact the price of your insurance.
For example, the following countries all have a high level of private health care, therefore it costs more to receive treatment there.
- North and Central America (including the USA)
- China and Hong Kong
- EU countries such as Greece, Malta, Spain and Cyprus
As a result, you might find it’s more expensive to get cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition and you’re visiting any of these countries.
To give you an idea of the costs of medical care and repatriation, when a UK traveller recently suffered a stroke in the USA, £768,000 was paid to cover the medical costs, including £60,000 for an air ambulance back home.
Your travel insurance won’t cover you if you are travelling to a country that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) doesn’t consider to be safe. If you’re not sure, check the FCDO website.
Do I need to know the types of medications I am taking?
While you’ll need to inform insurance providers of any pre-existing medical conditions, you won’t need to tell them about specific medication that you’re taking.
What happens if I don’t declare a medical condition?
If you don’t declare a pre-existing medical condition, when applying for travel insurance, your policy will likely be voided if you make a claim for anything related to that condition.
When applying for cover, you’ll usually be asked a series of medical questions, and possibly invited to a medical screening. It’s best to be as accurate and honest as possible, to avoid more serious issues later on.
Do I still need travel insurance if I have an EHIC and am going to Europe?
After Brexit, and the UK officially left the EU with a deal in place, things have changed. You won’t be able to apply for an EHIC anymore, but, if you have one already, issued before the end of 2020, then it’ll still be valid until the expiry date.
However, the UK government has introduced a replacement called the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). If you don’t have an EHIC, or once yours expires, you can apply for a GHIC here, and it should arrive within 10 days. The GHIC will offer the same cover as the EHIC did in EU countries.
An EHIC or GHIC is not a substitute for travel cover. It will only provide you with the same state healthcare as the locals; it won’t pay for repatriation and it won’t cover specialist treatment or stays in private hospitals.
Be aware, that it’s valid in most but not all European countries, such as the Channel Islands, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.
If you’re going outside the EU, the EHIC/GHIC won't be valid, so it can be expensive to get medical support. However, we do have reciprocal agreements with Australia, New Zealand, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands and others.
Where can I find a good deal on travel insurance?
Looking for travel insurance, even with a pre-existing medical condition, is easier when you search with us. Just tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re off to and how long for, and we’ll do the rest. Don't forget, it's sensible to organise your travel insurance as soon as your holiday is booked, in case of cancellation, and it also means you're not trying to find insurance at the last minute, particularly if you have a pre-existing condition.
We have a wide range of providers on our panel that can provide an online quote for the majority of customers with pre-existing medical conditions, as well as specialist providers that are able to provide an offline quote to those with extreme medical conditions (terminal conditions).