Travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions

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

Having a pre-existing medical condition doesn't mean you can't get travel insurance or have to fork out more cash. It just means you have to look a little harder for the right policy.

This article will take a look at the conditions that are normally covered by travel insurance and how to get covered for a pre-existing medical condition.

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How to get travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition

1. Be straight up

If you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and are looking to take out travel insurance, you need to find a policy that covers you adequately. You must let your travel insurance provider know of any pre-existing conditions you may have - otherwise, you could be left out of pocket in the event where you need to make a claim. 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.

2. Know your medical history

When applying, some insurers might ask for your medical history with any pre-existing medical conditions. This is usually defined as a medical condition:

  • That you are aware of
  • For which you are having or have had treatment in the past
  • You are treating with prescribed medication
  • You previously had surgery for

3. Understand what is considered to be a pre-existing medical condition

The definition of a pre-existing medical condition varies slightly between insurers but the term is generally accepted to refer to:

  • An ongoing medical or dental condition of which you are aware, or a related complication you have or the symptoms of which you are aware; or
  • A medical or dental condition that is currently being treated or investigated by a health professional, or that has been treated or investigated by a health professional in the past; or
  • Any condition for which you take prescribed medicine; or
  • Any condition for which you have had surgery; or
  • Any condition for which you see a medical specialist; or
  • Pregnancy

Check your policy PDS or contact the insurer directly to find out how your insurer defines a pre-existing condition.

How do I know if my condition is covered?

Insurers vary in how they cover pre-existing conditions, so never assume that you’ll be automatically covered when you buy a policy. Instead, take a look at the pre-existing medical conditions section in the PDS.

This will contain the following information:

  • A list of pre-existing conditions automatically covered by the policy, usually without requiring you to pay an additional premium
  • Information on how you can apply to have any pre-existing condition not included in that list covered by your policy

If your condition is not automatically covered, you’ll need to declare it to the insurer when you apply for cover. This can be done by filling out an online health questionnaire or answering some questions about your condition over the phone. Your insurer will then assess whether or not it will cover claims arising due to your pre-existing condition, and you will typically need to pay an additional premium for cover to apply.

Check the list below for details of conditions which are usually automatically covered, conditions which you must declare, and conditions which are usually excluded.

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. There are some general rules around coverage of certain conditions.

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.

Best travel insurance for pre-existing conditions

If you’re looking for travel insurance to cover a pre-existing condition, we can’t tell you which policy is the best choice for you. This is because the right policy depends on your cover needs, your budget and your personal situation, so the best cover for one person may be insufficient for the next traveller.

However, there are a few simple tips you can keep in mind to help you find the right policy:

  • Consider your cover needs. First and foremost, think about what you want in a policy – what are the risks you want cover for and how much protection do you want? How much are you willing to pay for cover?
  • Compare suitable policies. Once you know the type of cover you want, you can compare a range of policies from different insurers. What benefits do they offer and how high are the cover limits? What exclusions and restrictions apply?
  • Treatment of pre-existing conditions. Check the PDS of each policy you’re considering to see how the insurer treats pre-existing condition. Is your condition automatically covered? If not, what do you have to do to apply to have it covered?
  • Compare quotes. Compare quotes across the best policies to see which one offers the best value for money. Does it cost extra to have your pre-existing condition covered?

The key when buying travel insurance for pre-existing conditions is to shop around. Don’t just settle for the first policy you find; compare benefits and limits across several policies to find the cover that best suits your needs.

Travel insurance for seniors with pre-existing conditions

If you’re 60 years or older and you have one or more pre-existing conditions, finding suitable travel insurance can be something of a challenge. The good news is that it’s still possible to find cover, but there are a few key points you should be aware of when searching for the right policy:

  • Cover costs more for seniors. Unfortunately, the risk of illness and injury is higher as you age, so the cost of cover also increases as you grow older. Once you reach 60 years of age, many insurers will start applying an age loading to your policy.
  • Fewer pre-existing conditions covered. Some pre-existing conditions that are automatically covered for younger travellers may not be covered for travellers 60 years or older. For example, some insurers won’t cover seniors for claims that arise due to asthma.
  • Terms and conditions differ between insurers. Different insurers impose different restrictions and exclusions on cover for seniors with pre-existing conditions. For example, if you’ve previously suffered a stroke, some insurers will not cover you if you’ve had any incidents in the past five years, while others only require you to not have had any incidents in the past two years.
  • Age limits apply. Insurers impose maximum age limits on their policies, so you’ll need to check the fine print to make sure you’re eligible for cover. While some providers set this limit as low as 65 years of age, others will cover you up to 100 years or even older.
  • Disclose everything. Don’t be tempted to save on the cost of cover by withholding information from your insurer. Disclose all the details of your pre-existing conditions when you apply for a policy.

Check out our guide to seniors travel insurance for more information on how to find the right policy.

What if I can't find cover for my pre-existing condition?

Having trouble finding an insurer willing to cover your pre-existing condition? You may want to consider AllClear, which specialises in medical travel insurance. With a commitment to consider all medical conditions, AllClear has provided cover for more than 1,300 medical conditions since the year 2000. However, keep in mind that cover for pre-existing conditions will usually come at a slightly higher price.

It’s also worth remembering that you can still purchase a normal travel insurance policy if you have a pre-existing condition that the insurer refuses to cover. You can still enjoy all the usual benefits the policy offers, but with the key caveat that you won’t be covered for any claims that arise directly or indirectly from the pre-existing condition.

Not sure if you have a medical condition?

Unsure whether or not you have a medical condition that you would need to declare to your travel insurer? The best way to find out is to book in for a check-up with your GP. He or she will be able to give you a full health assessment and determine whether there are any issues you need to be concerned about.

Once you’ve been given the rundown from your doctor, check the PDS of any travel insurance policy you’re thinking of purchasing to find out how your insurer treats any condition you may suffer from. If it’s automatically covered – great! If it’s not, contact your insurer for information on whether it’s possible to apply for your condition to be covered, or whether no cover is available at all.

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

Typically you'll be asked:

  • What is the name of your condition?
  • What medications have been taken to treat the condition?
  • If you have been 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 3 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?

If you don't declare your condition, you won't 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.

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.

I’m diabetic...can I get covered?

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.

Head here to learn more about getting cover if you're diabetic.

Some final questions you might have

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.

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

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

Usually within 24 to 48 hours.

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

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.

No, you must apply while you are in Australia.

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

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

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.

Only when you are more than 70 years of age.

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

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).

No. You generally cannot apply for pre-existing medical condition cover once you have started your journey.

You generally cannot do this. Once you have purchased a policy, you can no longer declare any pre-existing conditions and the insurer will not pay any claims that arise due to your pre-existing condition.

Visit your doctor for a full check-up. He or she will be able to assess your overall health and advise you whether you are suffering from any conditions.

If you don’t disclose your pre-existing condition to the insurer when you apply for cover, any claim that arises due to that condition could be reduced or rejected. This could leave you facing extremely expensive overseas medical bills. In some cases, your entire travel insurance policy could become void.

With this in mind, it’s essential that you declare any pre-existing conditions when you apply for cover.

If you develop a condition after purchasing travel insurance but before you leave on your trip, you’ll be covered for cancellation and trip adjustment costs if you need to call off or amend your trip – provided you weren’t aware of any symptoms of the condition or hadn’t sought treatment for the condition before purchasing cover.

You should also inform your insurer of your changed medical circumstances in case your policy needs to be adjusted in any way.


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Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at finder.com.au. He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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26 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    TinaSeptember 7, 2017

    Travel insurance which covers pre-existing medical conditions such as kidney stones and crohn’s disease.

    • Default Gravatar
      GruSeptember 8, 2017

      Hello Tina,

      The pre-existing conditions such as Kidney Stones and Crohn’s Disease are not included in the list of conditions that are generally covered by travel insurance. However, they are also not included in the list of those excluded.

      To be safe, as we are dealing with something extremely important such as your health, it would be best to contact the insurance provider you are interested in. The company will assess the condition and decide whether or not cover can be provided.

      Hope this helped.

      Cheers,
      Gru

  2. Default Gravatar
    July 27, 2017

    I want cover for Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic arthritis

    • Staff
      LiezlJuly 27, 2017Staff

      Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for reaching out. Just to confirm, you have reached finder.com.au, a comparison website and general information service, not actually an insurer.

      While we are unable to recommend a specific insurance company that will provide cover for your condition, you may want to contact directly with the insurers listed above to find out whether or not they can provide you a cover. Please note that terms and conditions vary extensively among companies hence, it is crucial that you declare any medical conditions that are not automatically covered at the time of application.

      Additionally, you may want to check InsureandGo as they do not automatically exclude any conditions and claim to assess all conditions on a case-by-case basis. Also, CoverMore might be able to cover you for an additional premium, subject to the outcome of a short medical assessment.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

  3. Default Gravatar
    SaphireMarch 7, 2017

    Hi, my daughter has Evan’s syndrome.. what travel insurance will cover that and what is included please.

    • Staff
      ZubairMarch 9, 2017Staff

      Hi Saphire,

      Thank you for your question.

      Unfortunately, we are not able to recommend a specific provider that will provide cover for your condition. You will need to disclose the pre-existing condition prior to purchase the cover. However, there are two providers in our panel who state they will consider all the pre-existing medical conditions:

      - InsureandGo do not automatically exclude any conditions and claim to assess all conditions on a case-by-case basis.
      - CoverMoreCoverMore may be able to cover you for an additional premium, subject to the outcome of a short medical assessment.

      Cheers,
      Zubair

  4. Default Gravatar
    SusanFebruary 19, 2017

    My spine was fused T2 to sacrum 5 years ago. I am 69. Can
    I want to travel to uk for a month in March 2017. What are my options for travel insurance?

    • Staff
      ZubairFebruary 20, 2017Staff

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Unfortunately, we are not able to recommend a specific provider that will provide cover for your condition. You will need to disclose the pre-existing condition prior to purchase the cover. There are two providers in our panel that can count all the pre-existing medical conditions:

      - InsureandGo do not automatically exclude any conditions and claim to assess all conditions on a case-by-case basis.
      - CoverMoreCoverMore may be able to cover you for an additional premium, subject to the outcome of a short medical assessment.

      Cheers,
      Zubair

  5. Default Gravatar
    JayneJuly 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
      RichardJuly 11, 2016Staff

      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

  6. Default Gravatar
    AnilMarch 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
      RichardMarch 27, 2016Staff

      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

  7. Default Gravatar
    tataAugust 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
      RichardAugust 18, 2015Staff

      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

  8. Default Gravatar
    PamJuly 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
      RichardJuly 27, 2015Staff

      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

  9. Default Gravatar
    geoffJuly 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
      MauriceJuly 15, 2015Staff

      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

  10. Default Gravatar
    TommyJune 16, 2015

    Can I get travel insurance for
    Nonischemic cardiomyopathy

    • Staff
      RichardJune 17, 2015Staff

      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

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