Travel insurance with a medical condition

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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. But you might need specialist travel insurance as not all providers offer cover for pre-existing conditions in a standard policy.

If you’ve got a medical condition and are worried about getting the right travel insurance, here’s what you need to know:

The information in this video is available as a text transcript.

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. We’ll run you through the most important factors to consider, so you can find the right travel insurance for medical conditions policy to suit your needs.

A list of some of the most common pre-existing medical conditions that you need to disclose when buying travel insurance includes:

Heart conditions

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are very common.

Diabetes

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can impact your health in many ways.

Asthma and respiratory problems

Asthma can range from mild to severe or you may have other airway issues, like cystic fibrosis.

Chronic illnesses

Cancer, stomach problems such as Crohn’s disease and IBS can come under the heading of long lasting or chronic illness.

Joint and bone inflammation

Arthritis, rheumatism, and gout issues cause many people problems.

Mental health issues

It’s not just physical illnesses that need to be declared – anxiety, depression and eating disorders should be disclosed too.

This list isn’t definitive, so if you have been ill with anything it may be a good idea to check if it needs to be disclosed as this can vary from provider to 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. Before booking your travel you should check with your airline as most do not allow travel after 36 weeks for a single pregnancy and after 32 weeks for multiple pregnancies.

How does specialist medical travel insurance work?

Taking out travel insurance with a medical condition is a bit different from usual. You’ll normally 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. 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 tens of thousands of pounds when abroad.

Depending on the results of your questionnaire or medical exam, you’ll find out which policies you might 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. But it’s important to bear in mind that the best specialist travel insurance for medical conditions isn't necessarily the one with the highest premium.

Will an insurance provider approve my application?

It depends on your condition and how much of a risk they consider you to be. It works like this:

1. Get a quote

You’ll need to tell us if you or anyone in your party has:

  • Any condition you’re waiting for an operation or investigation on
  • Any condition that you’re currently awaiting test results for
  • Any condition, even a minor one, that you’ve seen a doctor about in the past year
  • Any serious condition – cancer, heart trouble, respiratory problems – you’ve ever had
  • Been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

2. Compare options

Check the details of the policy and make sure it offers you the level of cover you need, as well as any details or exclusions relating to your medical issues.

3. Apply

Make sure you’re honest about your medical history, symptoms, medications plus recent and outstanding appointments. If you’re not sure whether to declare something, it's always best to err on the side of caution and not assume it’s covered. You may be asked for detailed information and might have to take part in a screening process.

It may seem intrusive, but this information helps insurance providers build up a picture of how likely it is you’ll require medical treatment while you’re on holiday. If you don’t declare a medical condition and you make a claim, you could find yourself with an invalid policy and having to pay for treatment yourself. Once you make a claim, your provider will be able to access your medical records and check them, so it isn’t worth not giving the full picture.

Once you’ve disclosed all the required information, a travel insurance provider might do one of the following:

  • 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, special terms or expect you to pay a higher excess
  • Offer cover that includes the pre-existing condition, but ask you to pay more – perhaps significantly more
  • Refuse to insure you.

If you can’t find an insurance provider, then it’s worth contacting a charity connected to your health condition as they might 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. Make sure the whole policy suits your needs – not just the aspects involving your medical condition.

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 details that matter, you may as well not have it at all. There’s a lot of information out there and many different options to tailor your policy to your needs.

With Comparethemarket, you can 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 might find that travel insurance is more expensive. However, there are some steps you could take 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 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 Comparethemarket. We can help you compare dozens of providers in minutes, allowing you to select the cheapest travel insurance policy from your results.

What's the difference between specialist travel insurance and pre-existing medical travel insurance?

Specialist travel insurance is often used as another name for pre-existing medical travel insurance but the term could also potentially cover a wider range of situations. For example, a specialist travel insurance policy may cover travel to remote or high-risk destinations, hazardous sports or older travellers than standard policies.

Frequently asked questions

Does it matter where I’m travelling to?

Yes. You might find it’s more expensive to get cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition and you’re visiting a country with a high level of private healthcare, for example:

To give you an idea of medical costs and repatriation, it’s estimated that treatment for a stomach bug or infection in the USA, plus flights home, could cost £100,000.

Your travel insurance won’t cover you if you are travelling to a country or a region of 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?

Yes, you may need to tell your insurance provider which medicines you are taking or sometimes how many medications you are taking to treat a particular condition.

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.

What kind of other medical claims do travel insurance providers refuse to pay?

Claims are turned down for people who:

  • Travel against the advice of their doctor or don’t ask for their doctor’s advice where travel would have been denied
  • Travel to receive treatment – to get an operation in a foreign country
  • Don’t take necessary medication, for example, any prescribed medicines or required vaccination

Do I still need travel insurance if I have an EHIC and am going to Europe?

Ideally, yes. Your EHIC or GHIC will provide you only with the same state healthcare as the locals, but it won’t pay for repatriation, specialist treatment or stays in private hospitals. Nor will it cover you for eventualities like lost luggage or missed flights.

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you some health cover in most EU countries but not all. You're not covered for the Channel Islands, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.

If you are travelling to a country that uses the GHIC card, your travel insurance provider will expect you to have one and use it – and might refuse to pay a claim if you don’t. Make sure you apply in plenty of time for it to arrive before your trip.

If you don’t have an EHIC, or up to six months before your current card expires, you can apply for a GHIC from the NHS and it should arrive within 10 days. The card is free. Make sure you use the official site to apply as there are some websites that will try to charge you.

If you’re going outside the EU, the EHIC/GHIC won’t be valid, so it could 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 easy 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 to give you peace of mind. It also means you won’t have to try 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 most customers with pre-existing medical conditions, as well as specialist providers that are able to provide an offline quote to those with serious medical conditions (terminal conditions).

Author image Josh Daniels

What our expert says...

“A medical condition shouldn’t stop you going on an enjoyable holiday. If you do unfortunately need treatment while you’re away, contact your insurance provider before you incur medical expenses if you can. Most have 24-hour helplines to give you advice, which could be very helpful in a stressful situation.”

- Josh Daniels, Travel insurance expert

Page last reviewed on 01/12/2022
by Josh Daniels