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Travel insurance with medical conditions

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Can I get travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions?

Yes, 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 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.

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.

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.

It’s important to be as honest and accurate as possible. If you don’t disclose a condition or aren’t honest about its severity, your claim may be rejected and your policy voided. This means you’ll have to pay for any medical treatment yourself, which can run into tens of thousands of pounds when abroad.

The results of your questionnaire or medical exam will determine 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.

Just bear in mind that the best specialist travel insurance for medical conditions isn't necessarily the one with the highest premium.

How to get travel insurance with a pre-existing condition

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

Be honest about your medical history, symptoms and 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 need 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 makes sense to give them the full picture.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

Will an insurance provider approve my application?

It depends on your condition and how much of a risk you’re considered to be. Once a travel insurance provider has the information they need, they 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, 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 see what’s out there and compare 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.

Comparethemarket can help make your search easier. When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who’ll cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. You can then compare the benefits of each and make the right choice.

How can I get cheaper travel insurance with a pre-exsiting medical condition?

Travel insurance can be more expensive if you have a pre-existing medical condition. However, there are some steps you could take to get cheaper 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. Just make sure you can afford to pay the excess should you need to make a claim.
  • 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 to describe pre-existing medical travel insurance. It simply means that this type of insurance might not be covered by a standard travel insurance policy.
Specialist travel insurance is also used as a term for other types of ‘non-standard’ travel policies. For example:

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.
We have a wide range of providers on our panel that can give an online quote for most customers with pre-existing medical conditions, as well as specialist providers that are able to give an offline quote to those with serious medical conditions (terminal conditions).

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We work with 43 trusted travel insurance brands[2], including:

[2] Correct as of March 2024.

Author image Helen Phipps

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.”

- Helen Phipps, Insurance comparison expert

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’re taking, for example, statins or aspirin. You might also be asked how many medications you’re 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.

Is pregnancy considered a medical condition?

Pregnancy isn’t usually considered a medical condition. Your insurance should cover you if you have a pregnancy-related emergency abroad, provided 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 between policies, it’s advisable to check directly with your provider before you travel.

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. 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.

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.

When should I buy medical travel insurance?

It’s sensible to buy your medical travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. That way, you’ll be covered if you need to cancel because of illness. It also means you won’t have to try and find insurance at the last minute, particularly if you have a pre-existing condition.

Page last reviewed on 13 OCTOBER 2023
by Helen Phipps