Travel Insurance: What Is A Pre-existing Medical Condition?

It is always important to ensure your travel insurance is right for you � having the wrong cover can be as bad as having no cover at all. Unfortunately, many travellers, sometimes unknowingly, fail to declare their all of their medical history, which could affect their medical cover, meaning that, ultimately, they are travelling abroad without sufficient insurance.

Travel insurance policies will not usually cover �pre-existing’ medical conditions (i.e. medical problems that you have, or have had in the past) unless they are declared and you are specifically told that they are covered. If you are intending on booking online, it is likely that you will have to telephone in order to declare any conditions � online policies generally exclude pre-existing medical conditions.

Travel insurance providers’ definitions of pre-existing medical conditions will differ. As a general rule, if you are currently having treatment or medication for something and/or if you have ever been diagnosed or treated for any heart and circulatory conditions (including high blood pressure), any breathing and lung conditions (for example asthma), any cancer, any psychiatric illnesses (including depression) or any back conditions, then you have a pre-existing medical condition that needs to be disclosed.

If you have more than one medical condition it is vital that you declare everything. Even if the conditions seem unrelated, partial cover (i.e. cover for one medical condition and not another) is not usually available, and declaring selectively could come back to haunt you in the event of a claim. Seemingly unrelated conditions can be exacerbated when you are unwell, e.g. if you are in hospital with a broken leg, an unrelated lung condition could be aggravated due to being hospitalised in a bed for a number of days.

Just because you have a pre-existing medical condition does not automatically mean you have to pay extortionate amounts for travel insurance. Most travel insurance providers will cover conditions for a reasonable cost, and some medical conditions might not even entail an additional charge. If you do not wish to pay any extra, or your medical conditions cannot be covered, usually you will be offered the option to purchase the insurance with your pre-existing conditions put down as an exclusion on your policy. This exclusion should not affect any other claim, including claims for any unrelated medical problems. It is important to note that, should any medical claim arise that is found to be related to a medical condition that is not covered on your policy, you would not be able to claim.

The cost of covering any medical conditions will differ depending on where you are travelling to and how long you are travelling for. Travelling to Spain or the USA means potentially high bills if a medical problem arises, so the cost to cover medical conditions for these places is likely to be higher than France, for example.

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