For the purposes of getting travel insurance, a pre-existing condition is usually defined as a medical condition:
That you are aware of
For which you are having or have had medical treatment in the past
That you are treating with prescribed medication
That you previously had surgery for
The good news is that you can get travel insurance that will provide you with cover for pre-existing conditions. In fact, many Australian travel insurers have a list of pre-existing conditions they cover automatically. And for conditions that aren’t automatically covered, it could be as simple as completing an online medical questionnaire and paying an additional premium.
To help you out we’ve broken down the conditions automatically covered by all the travel insurers you can access through finder, along with more information on how to get cover with a pre-existing condition, pre-existing conditions waivers and more.
Get your quotes for travel insurance that considers all pre-existing conditions
Which pre-existing conditions are automatically covered by the travel insurance brands on finder?
Search for your condition to see which travel insurance brands will cover you.
How does travel insurance for pre-existing conditions work?
Pre-existing conditions usually won't stop you from buying travel insurance. Insurers will consider most medical conditions and even if they decide not to cover yours, you can still get insurance covering everything else. It simply means you won't be covered for claims related to or caused by your pre-existing condition.
Steps for getting travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition
1. Be straight up with your insurer
If you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and need travel insurance, you must let your travel insurance provider know of any pre-existing conditions you may have. If you don’t, you could be left out-of-pocket in the event where you need to make a claim.
2. 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
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
Any condition for which you take prescribed medicine
Any condition for which you have had surgery
Any condition for which you see a medical specialist
Check your product disclosure statement (PDS) or contact the insurer directly to find out how your insurer defines a pre-existing condition.
3. Check to see if your condition is on the automatically covered list
While you’re looking at the PDS make sure you check to see if your condition is automatically covered or excluded by your insurer.
If your condition is not mentioned on either list, you’ll need to complete your insurers medical screening process, which will most likely consist of you completing an online questionnaire. These questionnaire typically ask you about how long you’ve had your condition, the type of treatment you’ve undergone, whether or not you’re currently taking any medication and other relevant questions so that they may assess your risk level.
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?
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.
5. Approval of cover
Once you’ve completed the medical questionnaire you’ll either have your pre-existing condition approved, which will generally result in you paying a higher premiums, or you’ll be told that the insurer won’t provide you with cover for your pre-existing condition.
6. Why get cover if your condition is not approved?
If your condition isn’t approved it doesn’t mean you can’t get travel insurance, it just means that you won’t be covered for claims that are the result of your pre-existing condition; this is called a pre-existing condition waiver.
Even though you’re not able to take out cover for claims related to your existing condition, you’ll still be entitled to lodge claims for cancellation, lost luggage and even medical claims so long as they aren’t related to your 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.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Diabetes Mellitus (Type I and II)
Dry Eye Syndrome
High Blood Lipids
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Iron Deficiency Anaemia
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
How to find the 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.
How is pregnancy assessed as a pre-existing condition?
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.
Group travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions
It's quite common for people to take out group travel insurance policies to provide cover for up to 10 or more friends, co-workers or teammates. While there is only one certificate of insurance for group policies, cover is still provided to each member of the group as if they were to have their own policy.
When taking out cover, the applicant that is applying for the cover for the group will be asked if any member of the group has any pre-existing medical conditions. In the event that one member does have a pre-existing condition that is not automatically covered under the policy, they may be required to take out their own separate policy. It may be possible to still purchase group cover if the condition is not listed though an additional premium may be incurred.
Are other people on my travel insurance policy covered for pre-existing medical conditions?
Generally, the insurance company will not provide a benefit payment for claims arising from pre-existing medical conditions that are automatically covered other than for those that are named on the insurance policy. Cover for pre-existing conditions can be provided to your spouse and/or dependent children/grandchildren.
Some final questions you might have
Yes, hospitalisation includes visits to day surgery and the hospital emergency department.
An online self-assessment can take as little as 10 minutes.
If the questionnaire is completed online, you’ll know immediately. If you do it offline, it may take between 24 and 48 hours.
Yes, travel insurance for cruises is the same as regular travel insurance, it just includes an extension for cover while you’re in the open seas. Getting sick on a cruise can be exceptionally expensive if you need to be evacuated, so if you are heading on a cruise and have an existing condition make sure to get the all clear from your insurer.
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.
Richard Laycock is Finder's insurance editor, and has spent the last five years wrangling insurance product disclosure statements. His musings about insurance have appeared on Money Mag, Yahoo Finance, and Travel Weekly. When he’s not helping people make sense of insurance fine print, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his newfound home of New York. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance.
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