Travel Insurance Medical Conditions

Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Information verified correct on August 31st, 2016

Do you have a pre-existing medical condition? Find out if you can get travel insurance.

If you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and are looking to take out travel insurance, it is crucial you find if and how the company covers the medical condition. Depending on the nature of the condition, the company will either automatically provide cover, provide cover at an additional rate or apply exclusions for the condition. If you do not declare your condition, it is likely the policy will be void in the event of a claim.

This article will take a look at the conditions that are and are not normally covered by travel insurance and how to go about obtaining cover for a pre-existing medical condition.

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What are pre-existing medical conditions?

A pre-existing medical condition is usually defined as:

  • A medical condition or symptoms of a condition that you are aware of
  • A medical condition for which you are having or have had treatment in the past
  • A medical condition you are treating with prescribed medication
  • A medical condition you previously had surgery for

How are different conditions classified?

  • Conditions that are automatically covered normally not serious conditions such as asthma or gastric reflux.
  • Conditions that are covered under certain conditions but require further assessment to determine the severity of the condition and any current treatment being prescribed.
  • Conditions it does not cover under any circumstances. These are usually serious illnesses and diseases such as cancer or HIV.

Declaring your condition is part of your duty of disclosure to the insurance company. Failure to do so can lead to your policy being rejected if you have to claim.

The list below is of conditions generally covered automatically provided the condition has been stable for the last 12 months and there is no planned surgery for the condition.

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Bunions
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cataracts
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Congenital Blindness
  • Congenital Deafness
  • Diabetes Mellitus (Type I and II)
  • Dry Eye Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Folate Deficiency
  • Gastric Reflux
  • Goitre
  • Glaucoma
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Hiatus Hernia
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Lipids
  • Hypertension
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Iron Deficiency Anaemia
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Migraine
  • Osteopenia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pernicious Anaemia
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Raynaud’s Disease
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Solar Keratosis
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Trigger Finger
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency.

If you suffer from any of the conditions listed below, you will be covered for any sections of the policy related to medical expenses/repatriation or trip cancellation/lost deposits.

  • Conditions where you have been given a terminal or palliative prognosis with a shortened life expectancy
  • If you require oxygen therapy or home oxygen for the journey
  • Aids defining illness
  • If you have had or are having an organ transplant in the future

If you suffer from any of the conditions listed below, you will need to declare these to your insurance company. The company will then assess the condition and determine if they can provide cover for that condition and/or journey.

  • Cardiac or heart conditions
  • Respiratory or lung conditions
  • Metastatic or secondary cancer
  • Dementia or memory loss
  • If you require the accompaniment of a full-time minder
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Heart problems (e.g. coronary angiography, pacemakers, etc)
  • Any conditions requiring surgery in the last two years
  • Certain kinds of diabetes
  • Epilepsy

Whether your insurer covers your condition will depend on its severity, how recent it is and the extent to which it is being controlled by medication.

If your condition is not listed in the policy, you must declare it to your insurance company. The company will assess the condition and decide whether or not cover can be provided.


What questions will I be asked when I declare my condition?

Typically you'll be asked:

  • What is name of your condition?
  • What medications have been taken in treatment of the condition?
  • If you are treated for blood pressure or diabetes, what was the last reading?
  • Have you changed your treatment medication recently, generally in the last 3 months?
  • Have you seen a medical practitioner recently, generally in the last three months?
  • Have you been admitted or undergone treatment in a hospital in the last 12 months?
  • Are you currently awaiting a medical review or treatment?
  • Have you smoked in the last 12 months?

What will happen if I don't declare my condition?

You will not be covered for any claims for losses that have occurred as a result of your condition. In some cases, your insurance provider can also choose to cancel your policy if they feel you have purposely withheld information that may increase the likelihood of a claim occurring.

So I will not be covered for other losses not related to my condition i.e. loss of luggage?

If the insurance company discovers known information has been withheld, yes they are in there right to avoid paying your claim.

Full travel insurance guides to pre-existing medical conditions

How is pregnancy assessed as a pre-existing condition?

Most travel insurers will cover pregnancy, providing it satisfies the following criteria:

  • Your trip ends on or before your 26th week of pregnancy
  • Claims are for unexpected complications only (not expenses related to childbirth)
  • It does not involve IVF treatment
  • It will not be a multiple birth (i.e. twins)
  • Your trip is not for fertility treatment
  • You have not experienced pregnancy complications in the past
  • You are not travelling against your doctor’s advice

As pregnancy is classed by insurers as a pre-existing condition, you will need to declare it when applying for insurance, be medically assessed and pay a higher premium, due to the higher risk you represent to the insurer.

Find out how pregnancy is covered by different brands

I’m a diabetic, can I get cover?

The majority of travel insurers will automatically cover diabetes, but the devil is in the detail, as each may require certain conditions to be met. For instance;

Even though Type 2 diabetes is a less serious form, if you have also had hypertension in the last 12 months, some insurers may exclude you from cover altogether

Because Type 1 diabetes requires stricter management, some insurers apply stricter cover conditions such as age limits.

The golden rule with diabetes, as with any pre-existing medical condition, is if you are unsure whether you are covered, declare it to your insurer at the time of applying. You may have to answer a few more questions and pay a higher premium, but it’s a small price to pay compared with receiving overseas medical bills that aren’t covered by your insurance.

Find out how diabetes is covered by different brands

Will the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement cover me?

Some people with pre-existing medical conditions assume that because they are travelling to a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, they can bypass travel insurance and rely on that country’s public health system if their condition requires treatment.

Unfortunately, while RHCA countries do provide Australian travellers with subsidised health care, levels of cover differ and some costs aren’t covered at all, including:

  • Treatment in a private hospital
  • Treatment as a private patient in a public hospital
  • Ambulance cover
  • Medical evacuation to Australia
  • Elective surgery
  • Dental care

Travel insurance is vital when travelling overseas and the only time RHCA treatment should be viewed as a backup is if you have a pre-existing medical condition that no insurer will cover.

Find out more about the RHCA

Some final questions you might have

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

Any condition that you are aware of and have had treatment or surgery for in the past, are currently treating with medication, or have been hospitalised for in the past 90 days.

I went to the emergency department about my medical condition. Is this considered hospitalisation?

Yes, hospitalisation includes visits to day surgery and the hospital emergency department.

How long does a medical assessment take?

An online self-assessment can take as little as 10 minutes.

How long does it take to process my assessment?

Usually within 24 to 48 hours.

How much does it cost to cover my pre-existing condition?

It depends on your insurer, your condition and how much of a risk you represent.

What if I develop a new medical condition after I have purchased my policy?

As it developed after you bought your insurance, it is not considered a pre-existing condition and would therefore be covered according to the terms and conditions of your policy.

Can I apply for cover for a pre-existing medical condition from overseas?

 No, you must apply while you are in Australia.

My insurer has refused to cover my pre-existing medical condition. Does this mean I can’t get travel insurance?

No, it simply means you won’t be covered for any expenses related to your condition.

If there is a problem with my pregnancy and my doctor advises against travel, will I be covered for trip cancellation?

It depends on your insurer. You may be able to claim if cancellation is due to unexpected complications with your pregnancy.

If I fall pregnant after I have bought my policy, will I still be covered?

Again it depends on your insurer, but normally if you inform them of the change in circumstances you may still be able to get cover for pregnancy.

Is asthma classed as chronic lung disease?

Only when you are more than 70 years of age.

My insurer refused to cover my condition. Does this mean I can’t get travel insurance?

No, it just means you won’t be covered if you develop any complications related to that condition.

Can I get travel insurance if I have suffered from cancer?

Yes, there are a handful of insurers who will provide cover for some cancers for a higher premium, providing certain conditions are met, such as being in remission for a certain period of time (i.e. 6 to 12 months).

Receive quotes for travel insurance from different brands

What are pre-existing medical conditions? Why are some covered by travel insurance and some not? Hopefully this article has helped you answer these questions. There are many conditions which are automatically covered, there are insurers who will cover you for others not normally covered, provided you pay an extra fee, and that even if you can’t get cover, you can still get travel insurance and still be fully covered for every other eventuality, apart from an event related to your condition.

Compare quotes for travel insurance for pre-existing conditions

Picture: HOSPITAL LA MILAGROSA, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

Richard Laycock

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

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18 Responses to Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

  1. Default Gravatar
    Jayne | July 11, 2016

    10th July 2016

    To whom it may concern,
    My husband and I are travelling to Vietnam departing Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh.
    My husband had spinal surgery on April 23rd 2016 for an acute lumbar disc prolapse. He had an elective L4 – 5 spinal fusion, L4 discectomy and bone graft.
    He has recovered well and returned to normal working duties fulltime on June 3rd 2016.
    He has no ongoing symptoms and does not take opiates or drugs of addiction for pain.
    He takes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and Panadol.
    Please advise what further info you provide and could you please provide a quote.
    I am 55 and my husband is 68.

    Jayne

    • Staff
      Richard | July 11, 2016

      Hi Jayne,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer. While you can compare quotes on our site, we are unable to take into account pre-existing medical conditions as these are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the insurance brand. However, you may find our travel insurance for back problems article a useful starting point for finding cover.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  2. Default Gravatar
    Anil | March 27, 2016

    My cousin had ovarian cancer in past. She completed her treatment in October 2015. She is free from that disease. Her doctor advised she can travel to Australia. My question is still she can get the insurance. Travel insurance that covers pre existing medical conditions.

    • Staff
      Richard | March 27, 2016

      Hi Anil,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and we are not permitted to provide our users with personalised financial advice. Whether or not a travel insurance brand will provide your cousin with cover will depend on the severity of the condition and the insurer. Some insurers may be able to provide her with cover. However, cover is provided on a case by case basis. You may find our travel insurance for cancer patients page useful.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  3. Default Gravatar
    tata | August 17, 2015

    I had my medical exam for our US travel and had flu and chills that time. Result shows in my ekg that i had sinus rhythm and poor R wave progression of which I am not aware.I am an active person, I do running and exercise and i do not take any medication. I purchased an insurance lately for our travel. In the assessment, I was diagnosed that I have a pre-existing condition. Can I get an insurance to cover my pre-existing condition. Thank you.

    • Staff
      Richard | August 18, 2015

      Hi Tata,

      Thanks for your question. You may be able to get cover, as this condition may not be automatically excluded. However, acceptance criteria varies from insurer to insurer. You should contact you current provider and see if they assessed this condition when you applied as you may already have cover.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  4. Default Gravatar
    Pam | July 26, 2015

    I had a craniotomy in April to remove a meningioma and want to have a holiday overseas in October or November is there an insurance company that will cover me I have not had any adverse affect from the surgery I am back to work full time and my next check up with the surgeon is next June, I had been getting cover prior to having the operation as I had the tumour for 5 years before they decide to remove it.,

    • Staff
      Richard | July 27, 2015

      Hi Pam,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, exception criteria vary from insurer so there is not a hard yes or no answer. However, InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions and CoverMore assess medical conditions prior to travel 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

  5. Default Gravatar
    geoff | July 15, 2015

    My partner and I will be taking a cruise in December this year for 14 nights, south pacific & NZ my partners father has alzheimers and is over 85 years old can we get travel insurance that covers cancellation in case he is hospitalised by chance?

    • Staff
      Maurice | July 15, 2015

      Hi Geoff,

      Thanks for your question. Some travel insurers may cover the costs of such cancellation if you disclose the pre-existing medical condition of any family members and allow for what is called a pre-existing medical condition waiver.

      What exact pre-existing conditions are covered however e.g. Alzheimers, will largely depend on the providers specific policies surrounding general exclusions, so it is best to speak to them directly.

      Hope this is useful.

      Cheers,

      Maurice

  6. Default Gravatar
    Tommy | June 16, 2015

    Can I get travel insurance for
    Nonischemic cardiomyopathy

    • Staff
      Richard | June 17, 2015

      Hi Tommy,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, exception criteria vary from insurer so there is not a hard yes or no answer. However, InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions. CoverMore may also be able to help as they assess medical conditions prior to travel 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

  7. Default Gravatar
    CHARLES | January 17, 2015

    I WOULD APPRECIATE CLARIFICATION ON THE FOLLOWING POINTS.
    1.MY GP REGULARLY SENDS ME FOR COLONOSCOPY/SKIN CANCER/ETC CHECKS EVERY FEW YEARS AND SOME INVOLVE HOSPITALS AND PRIVATE DAY SURGERYS.IS THIS ON-GOING HEALTH MAINTENANCE CALLED HOSPITALISATION?
    2.WHEN I AM QUOTED FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE IS IT FOR TRAVEL PLUS ALL OTHER COVERS INCLUDING MEDICAL. IF I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION WHICH IS NOT GOING TO BE COVERED, DOES THE QUOTATION GET REDUCED AFTER THE MDF IS SUBMITTED, AND MEDICAL COVER REFUSED.
    3.A SINGLE DESTINATION IS REQUESTED WHEN A TRAVEL COVER QUOTE IS SOUGHT. IS IT MORE ECONOMICAL TO GO FOR INDIVIDUAL TRIP COVER? SHOULD THAT COVER START WHEN (JUST BEFORE) THE TICKET IS PURCHASED, OR THE TRIP COMMENCES?

    • Staff
      Richard | January 19, 2015

      Hi Charles,

      Thanks for your a question. First, what is and isn’t a pre existing condition depends on the insurer. Second, you’re covered for what ever is stipulated in you travel insurance PDS – if you are getting cover for a pre-existing condition and the condition is approved, you’ll generally have to pay an additional premium. Third, The destination sought is the destination on the journey where you’re planning on spending the most amount of time. The cover starts when you begin your journey.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

    • Default Gravatar
      Helen | May 15, 2015

      Hi there,
      My daughter is unable to get cover for pre existing conditions. Is there any way she can be treated overseas (should an incident occur relating to pre exiting) acknowledging the fact that we would incur the cost
      She is travelling to Europe
      Thanks Helen

    • Staff
      Richard | May 15, 2015

      Hi Helen,

      Thanks for your question. If you contact the insurer, you should be able to arrange cover for things like cancellation, lost luggage, etc and exclude cover for anything arising from your daughters condition.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

    • Default Gravatar
      CHARLES | January 30, 2015

      Thank you very much for your previous answers on the 19/1/15. I have been thinking about it and have the following supplementary questions.
      1.IF I PURCHASE NON-REFUNFABLE TICKETS NOW FOR A FLIGHT 11 MONTHS LATER (WHICH IS POSSIBLE),I THOUGHT THAT I WOULD HAVE TO TAKE OUT INSURANCE FROM THE DATE OF TICKET PURCHASE, IN CASE OF CANCELLATION, RATHER THAN FROM THE DATE THAT TRAVEL COMMENCES. IS THIS NOT SO?
      2.IS TRAVEL INSURANCE FULLY ENCOMPASSING OF ALL RISKS/LOSSES, OR WILL INSURANCE COMPANIES ALLOW THE TRAVELLER TO SELECT INDIVIDUAL COVERS SUCH AS CANCELLATION AND BAGGAGE ALONE?
      WITH THANKS,
      CHARLES

    • Staff
      Richard | January 30, 2015

      HI Charles,

      As long as you take out cover for the trip, prior to the event that causes you to cancel your trip, you ought to be covered. Some policies do have stripped down cover for example personal liability and medical, baggage and cancellation and medical only.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

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