If you have a pre-existing medical condition, going abroad on holiday can seem like a daunting prospect. Finding an affordable travel insurance policy which will cover your condition isn’t an easy task.
Paying for medical emergencies and treatment abroad form the greatest cost for travel insurance companies. Treatment in some countries can run into thousands of pounds plus any costs incurred for repatriation if necessary so it’s not surprising that the insurers want to know about any pre-existing conditions.
Even if a medical problem or condition has been treated and cured, it still needs to be declared. From the insurer’s point of view, you are high risk as the condition could flare up again at any time and require treatment, which they would then have to pay for if it happened whilst you were travelling abroad.
Any medical issues you have had in the past, even if the treatment has ended, must be declared when you are applying for medical travel insurance. This is so that your premium can be calculated to cover the potential cost of any treatment abroad if needed.
Unfortunately, a pre-existing condition can have a major impact on the cost of your premium or may mean that an insurer refuses your application. However, it’s not worth the risk of not mentioning a medical problem just to bring the premium price down. If you do need treatment during your travels, the insurance company will have access to your medical records and if they spot a condition you haven’t declared they can nullify your policy, leaving you to foot the treatment bill.
Any hospital treatment in the past should be made known on your medical travel insurance application. Obviously, any existing treatment should be declared but past conditions should also be mentioned, even if treatment has ended and the condition is thought to have gone away.
Common conditions which need to be declared include asthma; diabetes; high blood pressure, even if it’s under control with medication; epilepsy; heart conditions and HIV. Any cancer treatment you have received should be made known, even if you have been told the cancer has gone, and you must let the insurance company know if you have ever suffered from a stroke.
If you suffer from a medical condition or have suffered in the past, you may find that some travel insurance companies will reject your application. Instead of engaging in an ongoing process of applying to a series of insurers until you find one willing to take you on, there are short cuts you can take to find appropriate medical travel insurance:
1. Contact a charity or support organisation for your condition. Staff at these organisations will be experts in dealing with your medical condition and should be able to advise you on which companies will be willing to insure you.
2. Speak to your GP or hospital specialist – they may be able to help.
3. Find a travel insurance price comparison website which has a section on medical travel insurance, for example moneysupermarket.com or medicaltravelcompared.co.uk. They have plenty of information to help you and you should find you have to complete only one questionnaire to get access to a range of quotes from insurers instead of having to fill in a separate form for each insurance company.
You are likely to have to undergo a thorough medical screening before an insurer decides whether they are willing to insure you and how much it will cost. The price of the premium will depend on what your condition is and its severity.
You won’t need to go to a GP or hospital for the medical screening – it can all be done online or over the phone. It involves answering a series of questions, often multiple choice, about your condition. You are likely to be asked some quite personal questions but you can be reassured that your answers will all be confidential.
Before you start, make sure you have relevant information such as how many different medications you take; when your condition or conditions were diagnosed and whether you have had any hospital treatment. You may be asked questions about your mental health too, such as whether you have ever suffered from anxiety or depression.
These questions may seem detailed and intrusive, but your answers help the medical travel insurance company to assess the severity and stability of your condition. They use this information to decide your risk factor and therefore the price of your premium.
If you have answered all the questions in the medical screening accurately and declared all of your medical conditions, then your medical travel insurance company should be willing to pay for any treatment you may need if you fall ill during your travels. The insurers should also cover the cost of a prolonged stay abroad to receive treatment or the cost of repatriation to receive treatment back home or in the case of death.