Stethoscope on heart

Travel Insurance for Heart Conditions

Heading overseas with a heart condition? Find out who offers travel insurance.

There are a variety of different heart conditions, some more serious than others. Nonetheless, many travel insurance providers will consider most heart conditions strong risk factors when travelling and will usually exclude it from their automatic cover.

So how can I get cover?

Factors that will determine whether or not you can get cover include:

  • Knowledge of heart conditions. Understand what exactly is considered a heart condition
  • Full disclosure. Make sure you meet the disclosure requirements of your insurer
  • Understand the policy. Be aware of what insurers will and will not cover, and if so, what are the specific conditions

If you would like learn more about obtaining travel insurance for heart conditions, continue reading or if you are ready to compare policies:

Who provides travel insurance for pre-existing heart conditions?

*Brands who cover pre-existing heart conditionsTerms and conditionsHow to discloseApply
Columbus Direct
  • With medical screening process & written endorsement of cover
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Phone assessment or online questionnairesGet Quote
CoverMore
  • With medical screening process & written endorsement of cover
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Phone assessment or online questionnairesGet Quote
Downunder
  • Medical assessment required
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
A medical declaration form can be found onlineGet quote
Easy Travel Insurance
 
  • Must submit Travellers Appraisal form
  • Not available for "Deposit protection", "Australian cancelation" and "additional expenses" travel plans
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Travellers appraisal form can be submitted with application - Can be acquired from a QBE representativeGet Quote
InsureandGo
  • Medical assessment required
  • No medical history involving the heart in the last 5 years unless you have told InsureandGo
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Phone assessment or online questionnairesGet Quote
Southern Cross
  • Medical assessment required
  • Confirmation by email for terms from SCTI required
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Medical assessment can be taken with as part of the application processn/a
Tick Travel Insurance
  • Medical assessment required
  • No medical history involving the heart in the last 5 years unless you have told InsureandGo and they have approved
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Phone assessment or online questionnairesGet Quote
Travel Insurance Saver Logo
  • Must submit Travellers Appraisal form
  • Not available for "Deposit protection", "Australian cancelation" and "additional expenses" travel plans
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Travellers appraisal form can be submitted with application - Can be acquired from a QBE representativeGet Quote
Virgin Money
  • Medical assessment required
  • Not available on basics or essentials plan
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Phone assessment or online questionnairesGet Quote
youGo
  • With medical screening process & written endorsement of cover
  • Subject to increased premiums and decreased cover limits
Phone assessment or online questionnairesGet Quote

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What do insurers recognise as a heart condition?

A heart condition is basically any condition related to the heart that affects its operation or blood vessels it connects with. A heart condition can be one that affects the heart muscle, the valves, the heart’s rhythm or the blood vessels. Common heart conditions include:

  • Coronary heart disease. This is the build-up of plaque on the inside of the arteries, which slows the blood flow to the heart.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A blood clot in a deep vein of the body, usually your leg.
  • Atrial fibrillation. A type of arrhythmia, where the heart does not beat normally.
  • Familial hypercholesterolaemia. An inherited condition where the body is unable to remove enough cholesterol from the blood, often resulting in early onset of coronary heart disease.
  • Cardiomyopathy. A condition where the heart muscle becomes inflamed and enlarged, eventually stretching and weakening it.
  • Angina. Chest pain caused by lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.
  • Stent procedures and other prior operations. This includes, but is not limited operations involving the placement of a stent.

heartcheck-up

Why do I need to declare my heart condition?

Travel Insurers need to assess your premiums accurately

It is vital that you declare your heart condition at the time of taking out the policy as it is considered a pre-existing condition. An insurers aim is to provide cover you for an agreed level of risk when you apply and without disclosure of a pre-existing heart condition, the provider is taking on extra risk that was not agreed upon initially. By declaring certain conditions, insurers will access whether or not they will cover you as well as decide on the appropriate premiums if they take on the additional cover.

Insurers can void your cover if you do not declare

Although it seems like a shortcut to avoiding premiums, if you don’t declare your heart condition to your insurer and you have an incident on your holiday that is related to the heart condition, then you will not be covered for any medical treatment or hospital expenses incurred because of it.  If you're in a country such as Japan or America, where healthcare is extremely expensive, then you'll be facing a huge bill that you'll have to pay yourself.

Matt's Heart Check-up

Having booked his long-awaited European holiday, Matt was counting down the days until he would depart on his dream getaway. A couple of days before his departure, Matt visited his doctor for a heart check-up after noticing an irregular heartbeat.

The condition was deemed non-life-threatening and although Matt was still awaiting test results, he headed off overseas without a care in the world. After a week in Amsterdam however, Matt became hospitalised with hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure). 

Matt was sure these expenses would be covered by his travel insurance. As Matt phoned his insurance company, he received a nasty shock: because he had the check-up before his departure, he is now classified as having a pre-existing condition which he did not tell his insurer about. The medical and hospital costs he incurred overseas were excluded from cover, leaving Matt severely out of pocket and completely broke.

Costs Matt faced

  • $2,000 in hospital stay expenses
  • $400 in medical treatment

Out-of-pocket

  • $2,400

Cover received from his travel insurance provider

  • $0

Reason

Matt did not disclose his heart condition once he found out about it.

This shows the importance of reading the fine print of an insurance policy to make sure you’re fully aware of what is and isn’t covered, and also acts as a crucial reminder of how vital it is that you notify your insurer of any changes to your circumstances - no matter how insignificant they may seem.


How do I declare pre-existing conditions and heart conditions?

Insurers offer different methods for you to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions and heart problems you may have. Depending on the insurer, you may have to do one or more of the following:

  • Undergo a phone assessment to answer questions about your health.
  • Fill out an online questionnaire.
  • Fill out and post or email a hard-copy form.
  • Undergo a face-to-face medical assessment.

Once you’ve provided all the relevant information concerning your health, your insurer will provide a written notice to let you know whether you will or will not be offered cover. You’ll also be notified of any special conditions or exclusions that may apply to your policy, and of any premiums you are required to pay before cover will take effect.

What type of questions will I be asked about my heart condition?

Typically you'll be asked

  • About medications taken in treatment of the heart condition
  • If you've changed your treatment medication recently (e.g. in the last 90 days)
  • If you've recently seen a medical practitioner (e.g. in the last 90 days)
  • If you've recently been admitted or undergone treated in a hospital (e.g in the last 12 months)
  • If you're currently awaiting a medical review or treatment

heartbeat.1Important safety considerations when travelling with heart conditions

If you suffer a heart condition and decide to travel, make sure you are aware of the following:

1. Effects of high altitude

Travelling to high-altitude destinations is possible if you have a heart condition, but you should be aware that travelling to countries at high altitude can lead to complications. The lower levels of oxygen available when you’re more than 2,000 metres above sea level can lead to breathlessness and angina, while those with coronary artery disease might experience an increase in symptoms.

If you suffer from cardiomyopathy or have a history of heart failure, keeping your fluid intake up and minimising your intake of salt are important, as is discussing your condition with your doctor before planning a holiday.

2. Plane travel complications

Australia is a long way away from many popular bucket-list destinations, so you may endure a long flight to get to where you want to go. Before you book a flight, visit your doctor to get advice on whether or not you’re fit enough to travel to your chosen destination by air.

People with heart conditions or with a history of heart disease are also at an increased risk of suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), so make sure to fully research DVT-prevention exercises and other tools such as compression socks before you travel.

Finally, make sure you’re fully aware of the restrictions placed on the amount of medications you are able to carry on international flights.

3. Bringing heart monitoring equipment

In the modern environment of heightened security measures at airports and border crossings, travelling with a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a little more complicated. These devices can set off the security metal detectors at airports, so make sure you inform a security guard of your condition. You can then ask to be hand searched or have a hand-held detector used to search you (but never placed over your device). Also, make sure to remember to take your device identification card with you when packing for your trip.

4. Safety essentials

  • Planning makes perfect. You can still enjoy a wonderful and safe holiday if you have a heart condition, but the key to a stress-free trip is to plan ahead. Make sure to consider all aspects of your condition and plan for each stage of the trip to make it run as smoothly as possible.
  • Choose wisely. Always keep your condition in mind when choosing your destination and the type of holiday you want to have. Relaxing in the shade on a tropical beach could be perfect, but trekking at high altitude could be a big mistake.
  • Take more than you need. If you’re on regular medication, prepare for the worst and take extra supplies with you in case your travel plans are interrupted.
  • Stretch it out. Make sure to stretch regularly on long flights to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
  • Get it in writing. Before you travel, ask your doctor to put together a letter detailing your condition, the treatment you have received and the medication you have been prescribed.
  • Tell your friends. Make sure that everyone travelling with you knows about your condition. It could save your life in an emergency situation.
  • Stay on track. Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you can take a break from your diet or your medication. Monitor what you eat and keep your fluids up at all times.
  • Take time to relax. With so much of the world to see and often with such little time to do so, travel can be exhausting. Take time to sit back, relax and smell the roses every now and then.
  • Don’t forget insurance. If you’re travelling with a heart condition, travel insurance is essential. Take out a policy at the same time you book your holiday so that you can take advantage of cover if you need to amend your holiday plans.

How are specific heart conditions covered?

If you receive cover for any of these conditions

You may have to pay an extra premium or deal with special conditions, limitations and excesses on your policy

Am I covered for Angioplasty or stents?

Angioplasty explainedAm I covered?
Angioplasty is a procedure to widen or restore narrowed or obstructed arteries and veins in your heart. It involves the inflation of a very small balloon inside the affected arteries and is a very common procedure in Australia. It’s also not an overly major procedure and is deemed to be ‘minimally invasive’, however you’ll still need to declare that you have undergone angioplasty when applying for travel insurance cover.

If you’ve undergone angioplasty or had a stent fitted in your heart, insurers will class this as a pre-existing medical condition and you’ll have to inform the insurer about it when you take out a policy. You'll need to complete an assessment of the condition, answering questions like:

  • Reasons for the angioplasty procedure
  • How long ago you did the procedure
  • Questions about your lifestyle and how you're looking after your heart

Am I covered for Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation explainedAm I covered?
Atrial fibrillation is an irregularity of the heart that causes it to beat abnormally fast. It can cause everything from palpitations to chest pains and fainting, and if left untreated can cause serious complications. However, there are several treatment options available to help sufferers maintain a regular heartbeat.Some insurers will completely exclude atrial fibrillation. However, there are travel insurance brands that do cover with on a case-by-case basis. You'll need to need to complete a medical assessment so the insurer can better understand your case of atrial fibrillation.

Am I covered for Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy explainedAm I covered?
A disease of the heart muscle, cardiomyopathy is thought to affect approximately one in every 500 Australians. There are several types of cardiomyopathy, the most common being a dilated or enlarged heart, and it can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fainting and even chest pains.Cardiomyopathy is assessed on a case-by-case basis by the travel insurer when you apply for cover. You'll need to need to complete a medical assessment so the insurer can better understand you case of Cardiomyopathy.

Am I covered for heart attacks?

Heart attacks explainedAm I covered?
A heart attack is usually the result of when the flow of oxygen-rich blood is stopped to the heart muscle. When the heart can't get oxygen and blood flow is not restored, the heart muscle will start to die.If you have suffered a heart attack, you can still get travel insurance cover. As with any pre-existing medical condition, you must declare it to your insurer at the time of taking out the policy. Whether they cover you and how much it costs will depend on factors such as:

  • Severity of the heart attack
  • Length of time since it occurred
  • What surgical measures have been taken to prevent it from recurring

If you do receive cover, you'll likely have to pay an extra premium and deal with special conditions, limitations and excesses on your policy

Do I need to disclose palpitations? 

Heart palpitations explainedDisclosure
Heart palpitations are defined as an awareness of your heartbeat. In many cases, heart palpitations by themselves are not serious and will go away without any treatment. Palpitations can be symptoms of other serious conditions e.g. Atrial Fibrillation.Yes, you need to disclose. If you seek treatment for heart palpitations but fail to disclose this to your insurance provider, insurers will consider your heart palpitations to be a pre-existing heart-related condition even though it may not seem serious. Any heart conditions that arise on your trip as a result of palpitations will not be covered without disclosure. 

Can credit card travel insurance cover my heart condition?

Many high-end credit cards come with complimentary travel insurance included. If you pay for your trip with your card, you will usually be able to enjoy some form of travel insurance cover when you begin your getaway.

But while this free cover is undoubtedly a bonus, as a general rule most credit card travel insurance policies will automatically exclude cover for pre-existing medical conditions, so chances are your heart problem won’t be covered. Credit card travel insurance is usually quite limited when compared with normal travel insurance, including much lower limits on cover for overseas medical expenses, so shopping around for standalone travel insurance is crucial.


How do other pre-existing conditions affect travel insurance?

Most pre-existing condition can affect your travel insurance quite dramatically, costing you more for your premium and in severe cases, possibly even preventing you from obtaining cover. Most insurers have certain pre-existing medical conditions that they will cover in their policies and these are usually the ones that are least serious or life threatening.


What pre-existing conditions are excluded?

Pre-existing medical conditions that are usually automatically excluded by insurers

These conditions are excluded by default, but there are specialist insurers who will insure these conditions, provided you go through the appropriate examinations and pay higher premiums for cover.

  • Cancer or secondary cancer
  • Conditions awaiting surgery or treatment
  • Conditions you knew about but failed to seek medical advice for
  • Conditions awaiting diagnosis or specialist opinion
  • Conditions for which you have been hospitalised in the past two years
  • Any previous condition needing spinal or brain surgery
  • Any condition causing seizures in the past year
  • Any recurring pain requiring regular medication or treatment
  • Mental illness including autism
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Any nervous condition such as dementia, depression, anxiety or stress
  • Any new Deep Vein Thrombosis 
  • Any heart or cardiovascular disease, including stroke, angina, previous heart surgery and heart attack
  • Chronic lung disease such as emphysema and asthma if the sufferer is over 60 years old.

Conditions you cannot get cover for at all

These are conditions that will never be covered.

  • Any condition with a life expectancy of less than two years
  • Any condition requiring oxygen for the journey
  • Chronic renal failure, requiring use of a dialysis machine
  • Diagnosed congestive heart failure
  • Any AIDS-defining condition associated with immunocompromised
  • Organ transplants.

What about Seniors Travel Insurance?

The older you are the more travel insurance usually costs. The reason that insurance costs more as you get older is because you are at higher risk of illness and injury. Seniors are also more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions than younger travellers. And the older you get, the more restrictions are imposed on your travel insurance and the higher the premiums you pay. As a general rule the age restrictions work as follows:

  • Up to age 60. Able to purchase any travel insurance policy
  • 60 and over. Able to purchase any policy, but an age loading may apply (more expensive premiums)
  • Up to 75. Able to purchase a policy, but with reduced cover and benefits
  • Up to 80. Able to purchase a policy, but with even greater restrictions (i.e. no cover for pre-existing conditions)
  • 80 and over. May require a medical declaration to purchase a policy with reduced benefits.

Learn more about Seniors Travel Insurance


Heart Condition Insurance FAQs

Q. I had a heart bypass a few months ago, can I get cover?

  • A. Yes, provided you declared the bypass operation when taking out your policy and were proclaimed fit for travel by your doctor and approved by the insurer at the time.

Q. I recently had a coronary angioplasty procedure. Can I still get suitable cover for an overseas holiday?

  • A. Possibly. This is a condition many insurers would consider covering, but such things are determined on a case by case basis.

Q. I had a coronary stent fitted last year, which I forgot to mention when getting an insurance quote. Will this affect my quote?

  • A. Yes, you may need to pay an additional premium.

Q. I have angina. Can I get cover for a six month cruise?

  • A. Normally, yes, but if you are aged 75 or over, some insurers will only cover you for around half that period.

Q. I’m taking medication for high blood pressure. What happens if I lose it while I’m overseas?

  • A. It shouldn’t be a problem. Most travel insurance policies provide cover for replacement of lost medications while on holiday, but check your policy before you go just to be sure.

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*Information accurate as of August 2015. Subject to change

Picture: colette_kent, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)
Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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6 Responses to Travel Insurance for Heart Conditions

  1. Default Gravatar
    Jeff | August 12, 2016

    I have had angioplasty 9 years ago and Covermore will cover this pre existing condition for Europe and Japan but not the USA.
    Will any insurer cover this pre existing heart condition for the USA

    • Staff
      Richard | August 15, 2016

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer, and we are not permitted to provide personalised advice.

      Whether or not a travel insurance brand will provide cover for a pre-existing condition can vary from person to person. InsureandGo and COver-More are two travel insurance brands that have traditionally been more accepting when it comes to pre-existing conditions, as InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions and CoverMore assess medical conditions prior to issuing travel insurance.

      These are just two providers from our panel that may be able to help and there may be other insures out there who are suitable to your needs.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  2. Default Gravatar
    Dee | July 9, 2015

    I was recently diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy & have an implanted defibrillator – do you offer a policy for this condition?

    • Staff
      Richard | July 10, 2015

      Hi Dee,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer, and we are not permitted to provide personalised advice.

      Whether or not you can take out cover will depend on the insurer. However, InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions. CoverMore may also be able to help as they assess medical conditions prior to issuing travel insurance.

      These are just two providers from our panel that may be able to help and there may be other insures out there who are suitable to your needs.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  3. Default Gravatar
    jo | April 14, 2015

    what if whilst i’m travelling overseas I decide to have a medical procedure done and it’s not an emergency. Would travel insurance cover it?

    Thanks.

    • Staff
      Richard | April 14, 2015

      Hi Jo,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, travel insurance does not cover medical procedures that are not emergencies.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

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