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Travel Insurance & Pre-existing Medical Conditions

If you already have an existing medical condition when you go on your trip, it may not be covered by a standard policy. This is because travel insurance is a bit like a safety net, it's designed to deal with unexpected or unforeseen incidents, not those you already know about or could predict.

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

When you take out travel insurance, you need to tell the insurance company about any illness, disease or injury you have, or have previously had.

Examples of pre-existing medical conditions are:

  • Respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Heart conditions, for example angina or cognitive heart failure
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Psychological disorders
  • Operations you have had
  • Any tests or investigations you are currently undergoing
  • Something you know you have but haven't yet started treatment for

Why do I have to tell the insurance company about these conditions?

It doesn't matter if the condition is a distant memory and currently has no impact on your day-to-day life, you still need to tell the insurance company about it. If you forget to let them know about something, or deliberately decide not to disclose your condition, it may invalidate your policy, and you won't be covered if you need medical help while on your trip.

If you're not sure whether to declare a medical condition, on the side of caution let the insurance company know. If it's not relevant to your policy, they won't take it into consideration but if it is, you've probably just saved yourself a lot of grief (and money) should you get ill on your trip.

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When do I tell them about my condition?

During the quote process, you'll be asked questions about pre-existing medical conditions, and this is where you should disclose yours. If you're not sure whether to disclose it, or want to talk to someone about it, most insurers have a helpline for you to call so you can discuss it with them, before buying a policy.

Why do I have to pay more for cover if I've got a pre-existing condition?

Payments for medical treatments and emergencies are among the biggest costs for insurance companies. Flying someone home or paying for an extended hospital stay can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. If you already have a medical condition, you're considered a higher risk to an insurer as there's often more chance they may have to pay out for these costs.

Make sure the policy is right for you

If there's a possibility you may have to undergo medical treatment while you are abroad, it's even more important that you have the right cover in place. Each policy will be different and you should check the policy documents of any policy you're thinking of buying, to see:

  • Whether your medical condition is covered
  • How much an insurer will pay out if you have to make a claim
  • What excess you may have to pay if you make a claim

The peace of mind you get from having enough cover in place for your personal circumstances is well worth a little extra time spent reviewing your policy. The last thing you want is having to pay a hefty bill on top of a stressful medical situation.

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