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
2. Know your medical history
- 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
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.
- Bell’s Palsy
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Coeliac Disease
- Congenital Blindness
- Congenital Deafness
- Diabetes Mellitus (Type I and II)
- Dry Eye Syndrome
- Folate Deficiency
- Gastric Reflux
- Graves’ Disease
- Hiatus Hernia
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Lipids
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance
- Insulin Resistance
- Iron Deficiency Anaemia
- Macular Degeneration
- Meniere’s Disease
- 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
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 a company called 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 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.
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).
Can I apply for pre-existing medical condition cover from overseas?
No. You generally cannot apply for pre-existing medical condition cover once you have started your journey.
How do I seek cover for my pre-existing condition after purchasing my policy?
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.
How do I know if I have a 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.
What happens if I don’t declare my pre-existing condition?
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.
What if something happens or changes before I depart?
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.