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

Article by Simon Christopher
Article added: 24/5/2011 - Last updated: -
Rating: 3.80 3.80 (5 votes)

medical travel insuranceOne of the key principles of insurance is that it covers risks rather than situations. For that reason, travel insurance traditionally does not cover what are known as pre-existing medical conditions. This also applies to the medical element of travel insurance.

How does this work?

Most policies specifically exclude cover for any treatment that results from a condition for which you had already experienced symptoms or received treatment.

In the case of treatment, this is a straightforward matter: if you have a heart attack, you'll find it difficult to get a standard policy that covers a repeat occurrence until you've been a few years without any problems. With symptoms it can be more of a grey area: generally you aren't covered if you've experienced symptoms that should reasonably have led you to suspect a particular condition.
What if I'm fully recovered?

Usually pre-existing conditions are a factor if you've had any form of treatment within a certain time, usually the past couple of years. This applies even if you've had a formal all clear.

How do I get round this?

Some insurers will offer additional cover for a pre-existing condition in return for a higher premium. There are also some insurers who specialise in medical travel insurance and offer "high risk" policies that cover a wide range of conditions.

Does age matter?

If you are older, you may find it easier to get cover with a pre-existing condition. There are a range of insurers and policies that specifically target older people, often aged 50 or more, and are much more relaxed about pre-existing conditions, simply because it's more likely these customers will have suffered poor health. As with any policy, don't make any assumptions about what's covered.

How does the admin work?

With most insurers, there's no need for a medical examination or to provide records. The customer simply fills in a form listing the specific conditions they want to cover, then answers a few questions about the severity of the condition, when it occurred and what treatment they have revealed. A few insurers ask prospective customers to phone through to discuss specific details. 

How much difference to the price does the condition make?

As a percentage of the premium, the additional costs can be quite high. As a raw amount, though, it is not always that bad. For example people who have suffered serious conditions in the past but have received treatment and not experienced any relapses may be able to get one week's travel insurance for around £30 to £50 extra.

The effect can vary greatly depending on the location. In particular, the most serious conditions can mean a dramatic price increase when visiting the United States. This is because medical costs there are so high that they make up the vast majority of the financial risk to the insurer, outweighing issues such as lost luggage or cancellations.

PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular travel insurance product or provider. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at

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