Do travel insurance companies cover MS?
Travel insurance companies define multiple sclerosis as a pre-existing condition. As MS is an unpredictable disease that requires intensive medication and treatment, it's generally defined as a high-risk condition, which will require you completing a medical assessment form prior to the travel insurer issuing your policy.
finder.com.au reviewed each of the product disclosure documents (PDS) for the travel insurance brands listed on the website and found that both Easy Travel Insurance and Travel Insurance Saver list multiple sclerosis as a high risk condition along with other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and motor neurone disease. As such, you need to declare these conditions at the time of application.
Your insurer will assess the nature of the condition and any current treatment you're undergoing to determine whether or not to provide cover. Remember, each insurer has its own conditions for providing cover and will consider applications on a case by case basis.
- How do I disclose that I suffer from multiple sclerosis?
- What details will I be asked when disclosing my condition?
- Why do I need to declare my condition?
- What won’t I be covered for if my condition is excluded from cover?
- So why is it still worth getting travel insurance?
- Tips for travelling with multiple sclerosis
- What else won’t I be covered for?
Declaring your MS involves making your insurer aware of your condition by submitting a medical declaration form. If the insurer agrees to provide you with cover, you'll be provided with written approval prior to your policy being issued. You may also be required to undergo a medical examination or provide a doctor’s certificate declaring that you are fit to travel.
If the insurer agrees to provide you with cover, you'll generally have to pay a higher premium as the insurer is taking on a higher level of risk. If after the medical assessment the insurer decides that you pose too great a risk to insure, you can still get cover but you will not be covered for any claims that are the result of your condition.
- The name of the condition
- Any medications taken in treatment of the condition
- Whether you've changed your treatment medication recently (e.g. in the last 90 days)
- Whether you've recently seen a medical practitioner (e.g. in the last 90 days)
- Whether you've recently been admitted or undergone treated in a hospital (e.g in the last 12 months)
- Whether you're currently awaiting a medical review or treatment
If a pre-existing medical condition is not covered automatically by your policy, you must declare it to your insurer at the time of application. If you don’t, your insurer has every right to deny any claim involving your condition, as they were taking on an additional level of risk without knowledge or consent.
If your condition is excluded, you will not be covered for claims related to the following benefits:
- Cancellation fees and lost deposits
- Overseas emergency medical assistance
- Overseas emergency and hospital expenses
- Additional accommodation or transport expenses incurred as a result of the condition
As you are not covered for the benefits above, no claim will be paid for:
- Any medical expenses whatsoever
- Your repatriation back to Australia
- Costs following cancellation or rearrangement of your trip
- Any additional expenses that you might have to pay after suffering your condition
If your condition is excluded, it’s still worth considering getting travel insurance to cover you for:
- Loss, theft or damage to luggage and personal effects
- Credit card fraud and replacement
- Luggage and personal effects delay
- Additional expenses for travel companions medical events
- Resumption of journey following unexpected death or illness of relative at home
- Disruption of journey for reasons outside of your control
- Car rental excess charges
What other options do I have?
Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with a number of countries, which cover the cost of essential medical treatment while travelling in the following countries:
- New Zealand
- Republic of Ireland
- United Kingdom
It's important to remember that the RHCA is not designed to replace travel insurance, as not all medical emergencies will be covered. The treatment and conditions for cover can vary between countries, so you need to know exactly what you are eligible for. You can learn more about the agreements and what you are eligible to receive here.
Travelling with multiple sclerosis is possible if you are cautious and plan ahead. The following tips can help make your trip a more enjoyable experience;
- Book accessible accommodation. Make sure your hotels are MS-friendly. For example look for accommodation with accessible lifts and shower grab rails.
- Rent accessible vehicles. There are usually lots of accessible vehicles available if you book ahead, including wheelchair-accessible people movers, cars with hand controls and motorised scooters.
- Streamline your air travel. You can make your flights more comfortable by notifying the airline of your special requirements, selecting an aisle seat with plenty of legroom and close to the toilets, and pre-printing boarding passes to avoid long queues.
- Conserve your energy. Don’t wear yourself out unnecessarily while travelling. Book short flights rather than long-hauls, hire a wheelchair or scooter if there’s walking involved, and don’t pack too much into your daily itinerary.
- Organise your medications. Declare your injectables ahead of time before going through airport security, keep all medications in original containers, and carry a letter from your doctor regarding your condition and treatment.
Travel insurance includes general exclusions where cover is not provided, regardless of whether you have cover for MS or not. These include:
- Unattended luggage. No cover for luggage or personal effects that are stolen or lost due to your negligence or failure to take suitable care.
- Reckless behaviour. No cover for incidents resulting from your irresponsible behaviour, such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Non-disclosure. No cover if you did not disclose any information that you had prior knowledge of (such as a pre-existing condition).
- Illegal behaviour. No cover for claims resulting from illegal acts such as ignoring or breaking laws, including visa requirements.
- Actions by a government authority. No cover for claims resulting from confiscation, detention or destruction of anything by a foreign government.
- Acts of war. No cover for claims arising from war, revolution, insurrection or military coup.
- Self-harm. Suicide or attempted suicide.
- Unlicensed air carriers. Air travel in an unlicensed passenger aircraft.
Still looking to purchase travel insurance if you suffer from MS?
If you suffer from multiple sclerosis, it is still worth comparing your travel insurance options to see what cover is available from different providers. It is critical that you let your insurer know about your condition prior to purchasing cover and be clear on the terms and conditions of your policy. Travel insurance can still offer important protection for other events, even if you are unable to find cover for your condition. You can start comparing travel insurance options by submitting your details in the form below.
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