Travel insurance for pre existing heart conditions
Here’s how to get travel insurance if you have a heart condition or had prior operations.
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Heart conditions are treated just like any other pre-existing medical condition when it comes to travel insurance. Most insurers will ask you to take an online medical questionnaire where you can disclose the details of your condition. After you complete the questionnaire, the insurer will let you know if they can offer you cover.
Specialising in covering all pre-existing conditions - including heart-related issues like heart attacks, stents and those who have undergone pacemaker surgery - these brands don't have blanket exclusions, and consider all heart conditions, including severe ones.
Travel insurance with heart condition cover. Compare your travel insurance quotes.
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What heart conditions are covered by travel insurance?
Heart related conditions can include forms of heart disease and problems with blood vessels. Here are a few common heart conditions that can be covered by travel insurance brands in Australia.
Although angioplasty is considered to be minimally invasive, 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 need to inform the insurer about it when you take out a policy.
You'll need to complete an assessment of your condition and provide the following information:
- Reasons for the angioplasty procedure
- Date of the procedure
- Information about your lifestyle and how you're looking after your heart
Some insurers will completely exclude atrial fibrillation. However, there are travel insurance brands that provide cover on a case-by-case basis. You'll need to complete a medical assessment so the insurer can better understand your situation.
Cardiomyopathy affects approximately 1 in 500 Australians. There are several types of cardiomyopathy, the most common being a dilated or enlarged heart, which can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fainting and even chest pains.
Since there are sevveral types, the insurer assesses cardiomyopathy on a case-by-case basis when you apply for cover.
You'll need to complete a medical assessment so the insurer can better understand your situation.
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 you take out the policy. Whether the insurer covers you and how much it costs will depend on the following factors:
- Severity of the heart attack
- Date of your heart attack
- 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
If you've sought treatment for heart palpitations but fail to disclose this to your insurance provider, insurers will consider your heart palpitations 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.
Many travel insurance providers will not provide overseas cover of expenses relating to an automated implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD or AICD), and policies will specifically list it as a pre-existing condition.
This means standard policies may not cover any medical costs directly, or indirectly, related to the ICD, such as any other heart conditions which may be connected.
To get overseas medical cover for ICDs, you can either:
- Make special arrangements with an insurer to get cover for this pre-existing condition at extra cost
- Or find an insurer that does not exclude ICDs in their policy, such as InsureAndGo
To make arrangements for ICD cover, you need to customise your policy around it, and at extra cost. This may let you get more flexibility, but can also cost more than finding a policy which includes cover for it by default.
It may be difficult to find travel insurance providers that cover ICDs. InsureAndGo is one of few options available, and has a range of benefits for travellers with pre-existing conditions such as options for unlimited medical cover, and does not require testing requirements prior to getting cover.
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.
Travel insurers need to assess your premiums accurately
It is vital that you declare your heart condition when you take out a policy as it is considered a pre-existing condition. An insurer's aim is to provide you with cover for an agreed level of risk and without disclosure of a pre-existing heart condition, the provider is taking on extra risk that they did not agree to. After you declare certain conditions, insurers will assess whether they will cover you as well as decide on the appropriate premiums if they do agree to cover you.
Insurers can void your cover if you do not declare
Although it seems like a shortcut to lowering your 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. 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. However, after a week in Amsterdam, Matt became hospitalised with hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure). Although Matt was sure these expenses would be covered by his travel insurance, when he phoned his insurance company, he received a nasty shock. Since he had the check-up before his departure, he was 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. Matt did not disclose his heart condition once he found out about it.
Matt's $2400 Check-up
Costs Matt faced
Cover received from his travel insurance provider
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. However, after a week in Amsterdam, Matt became hospitalised with hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure).
Although Matt was sure these expenses would be covered by his travel insurance, when he phoned his insurance company, he received a nasty shock. Since he had the check-up before his departure, he was 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.
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's PDS to make sure you’re fully aware of what is and isn’t covered. It 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 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 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 questions will I be asked about my heart condition when I declare it?
Typically, you'll be asked for the following information:
- Medications you take to treat your heart condition
- If you've changed your medication recently (eg, in the last 90 days)
- If you've recently seen a medical practitioner (eg, in the last 90 days)
- If you've recently been admitted or undergone treatment in a hospital (eg, in the last 12 months)
- If you're currently awaiting a medical review or treatment
- Planning makes perfect. You can still enjoy a wonderful, safe holiday if you have a heart condition. 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 with so little time to see it, 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.
Important safety considerations when travelling with a heart condition
If you suffer from heart disease and decide to travel, make sure you are aware of the following:
Will my credit card travel insurance cover my heart condition?
Many high-end credit cards come with complimentary travel insurance. 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.
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.
*Information accurate as of August 2015. Subject to change
Picture: colette_kent, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)
FAQs about insurance for heart conditions
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