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What is travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?
A standard travel insurance policy will protect you against unforeseen incidents that may happen before or during your holiday. That could mean sudden illness or medical costs, lost luggage, or cancelled flights or hotels.
Travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions is specific to your personal circumstances. It covers any existing medical issue you currently suffer with or have suffered with in the past. Premiums for this type of policy are usually higher as claims tend to be more expensive.
If you're struggling to find adequate cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPs) can provide you with a list of specialist insurers through the MaPs directory website. Alternatively, you can call the British Insurance Brokers Association on 0370 950 1790.
Does COVID-19 impact pre-existing medical condition policies?
If your GP advises you not to travel due to an existing medical condition, you will not be covered if you contract COVID-19. Likewise, if you choose not to travel through fear of contracting COVID-19, your policy will not cover any losses you incur regarding the cost of your holiday.
More broadly, the level of COVID-19 cover can vary quite a lot between insurers. Examples of what may be covered include:
Emergency medical expenses: Including repatriation (getting you home), and additional expenses (quarantine hotels, etc) if you fall ill with COVID-19.
Cancellation: If you test positive (or a close relative passes away due to COVID-19) prior to your holiday and are unable to travel.
Curtailment: If you test positive for COVID-19 pre-departure, upon arrival at your destination, or while on holiday. Additionally, look for a policy that offers curtailment cover in the event a close relative passes away from COVID-19 during your holiday.
What is considered a 'pre-existing' condition?
A pre-existing medical condition is an illness or injury you have suffered from (or currently suffer from) prior to your holiday. Generally, this means any medical appointments, investigative procedures, treatments, and surgeries you have had in relation to an illness in the last two years – however, this timeframe can vary from insurer to insurer. Regardless of your current health, any pre-exiting issue must be declared. Don’t, and you risk voiding your travel insurance.
Common pre-existing conditions include:
Cancer: Finding cover can be tricky, even if you are currently in remission. Insurers differ greatly in their approach, which is why comparison is so important.
Heart conditions: For example, angina, blocked arteries, bypasses, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Heart diseases, and heart attacks.
Mental health conditions: For example, anxiety, depression, stress, addiction, post-natal depression, and bipolar disorder.
Is pregnancy considered a pre-existing medical condition?
Pregnancy is not usually considered to be a pre-existing medical condition as most insurers provide emergency medical cover related to pregnancy as part of a standard policy.
What should the policy cover?
Your level of cover will depend on the policy you take out. Aside from specialist medical treatment for your condition, a standard travel policy could include:
Medical expenses: £5,000,000
Personal liability: £1,000,000
Cancellation: £3,000 (or amount equal to total holiday cost)
Delay cover: The amount can vary, but should be included
Missed departure: £500
Loss, damage or theft of baggage: £1,500
Policy excess: Under £100
Holiday cash: £250-£500
Emergency assistance: 24/7 support
You may also wish to include cover for ‘end supplier failure’ for any non-refundable element of your travel. For example, if your airline or hotel ceases trading before or during your holiday.
Will I need a medical examination to get cover?
When you apply for travel insurance for a pre-existing medical condition, you may be required to take a medical examination. This will depend entirely on your personal circumstances and medical history.
In order to assess the level of cover you require, you will be asked a number of in-depth and personal questions about your health. Typical questions can include:
Have you had any surgery, investigative procedures or referrals, inpatient, or outpatient treatment of any kind?
Have you taken (or are currently taking) prescription medication, or received any medical treatment for a non-common medical issue?
Have you received any medical advice or treatment for any respiratory condition?
Have you received any medical advice or treatment for any heart, stroke or diabetic condition?
Have you suffered from depression, anxiety, or any other psychological condition?
In addition, you will be required to answer detailed questions about your condition.
It’s important to be completely honest with your insurer as, in the event of a claim, they will be able to access your medical records.
Once you have answered your insurer’s questions, one of the following outcomes could happen:
You will be given a standard travel insurance policy
You will be given a travel insurance policy, excluding cover for your medical condition
You will be given a travel insurance policy at a higher price
You will be given a travel insurance policy with specific terms, exclusions, or higher excess payments.
You will be refused insurance
Will a GHIC/EHIC card cover me?
If you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) – or its replacement, the GHIC (UK Global Health Insurance Card) – you will get free or reduced-fee access to some state-provided healthcare.
However, while they are useful, these cards are not a substitute for travel insurance. For example, these cards will not cover you in the event of repatriation (emergency medical return home), or for treatment in a private healthcare facility (in a medical emergency, you may not be able to choose where you are treated). A dedicated travel insurance policy should provide cover in both instances.
How do I make a claim when I'm on holiday?
Make sure that you have your policy details close to hand before you travel. If you don’t want to take a hard copy, save a digital version to an online email account. Additionally, save your insurer’s contact details and your policy number on your mobile phone.
Should you need to make a claim while you’re on holiday, your policy will outline a clear set of steps. Make sure you are familiar with the process before you travel. In the event of a medical emergency, call the helpline provided. Your insurer will be able to advise you, and help you to get the correct assistance.
FAQs – pre-existing medical conditions
Who regulates us?
The icelolly.com travel insurance comparison site is operated by CYTI Limited. Registered in England (company number: 07368288). CYTI Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (firm reference number: 594298)
How much is travel insurance for a pre-existing condition?
The cost of travel insurance for a pre-existing condition varies greatly according to your condition, age, destination, and length of trip.
What happens if I don't declare conditions when applying for a policy?
If you don’t declare your pre-existing conditions any claim you make is very likely to be rejected. Simply put, if you require treatment for an existing heart issue, but didn’t declare this to your insurer, they will not pay.
Do I need to tell insurers if I develop a condition after buying a policy?
If you develop a condition after buying a policy, then you should contact your insurer as soon as possible. This may result in a higher premium, but better this than a policy that doesn’t pay out when you need it.
I have a terminal illness; can I still get travel insurance?
Yes, it is possible to get travel insurance if you have a terminal illness.
Is pregnancy considered a pre-existing medical condition?
Most insurers do not consider pregnancy a pre-existing medical condition. You should be able to take out a standard travel insurance policy.
Does where I'm travelling to make a difference?
Yes, your destination does make a difference to your travel insurance. “Worldwide” destinations (for example, those outside of Europe, such as the US or the Caribbean) often have higher premiums due to local healthcare costs being more expensive.