Travel insurance for pre-existing conditions


It’s not the most exciting element of a holiday, but travel insurance is essential for any trip. However, if you have health concerns, getting the right policy requires a little more thought.

Travel insurance providers believe you’re more likely to make a claim if you have a medical condition, and either charge higher premiums or refuse claims that are related to it.

If you’re in the market for travel insurance and you have a pre-existing medical condition, here’s how to make sure you get the right cover at the best price.

What counts as a pre-existing medical condition?

Any diseases, illnesses or injuries that you had before applying for a travel insurance policy count as pre-existing medical conditions. Some illnesses even have to be disclosed if you’re over the worst of them, i.e. you’re in remission following cancer treatment.

Some of the most common pre-existing medical conditions include:

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Heart conditions

  • Respiratory conditions

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Epilepsy

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Alcohol/drug dependency

Travel insurers class terminal illnesses as pre-existing medical conditions, so it may still be possible to arrange cover in this situation.

What about pregnancy?

Pregnancy isn’t considered a pre-existing medical condition and shouldn’t affect the price you pay for cover. Pregnancy-related illnesses such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure must be declared, however.

If you haven’t already booked your travel, bear in mind that different airlines have different policies on how far into a pregnancy they’ll let you travel. Many limit travel to the first 36 weeks, and some will ask for a doctor’s note if you’re beyond 28 weeks.

What should travel insurance for pre-existing conditions cover?

As well as covering medical treatment to the tune of up to £5 million, a robust policy should also include cover for:

Repatriation - the cost of returning you bringing you home for medical reasons.

Cancellation/curtailment - the cost of having to cancel or cut short your holiday because of illness, bereavement or redundancy.

Personal liability - the cost of injuring or killing someone, or damaging their property, while you’re away

Baggage/belongings - the cost of replacing lost, stolen or damaged luggage and its contents

Missed departures - the cost of extra travel or accommodation arrangements made necessary by having missed your flight or ferry

The importance of full disclosure

Though it could be tempting to omit a medical condition to get a cheaper policy, particularly if it’s a condition you’re recovering from, it’s best to be honest.

If you withheld information from your insurer and ended up needing to make a claim, they might see fit to take a closer look at your medical history and, should they find you left out something relevant, they could refuse your entire claim - or part of it.

Travelling with a pre-existing medical condition

If you have a pre-existing medical condition you’ll want to ensure that you travel with enough medication to last you the duration of your holiday.

Don’t forget to take any medical equipment, prescriptions and medical paperwork that you may need.

Check where the nearest medical facilities are to where you’ll be staying, including the nearest pharmacy, clinic and hospital. Jot down addresses of institutions that may be able to offer assistance in the destination you’re heading to such as the local British Embassy.

What if I develop a condition after I buy cover?

Let your insurer know if you develop a medical condition as soon as possible, to give it a chance to adjust your policy. This may be for an additional cost, but it will ensure that you are adequately protected while away.

Making a claim

Your policy documents will tell you how to go about making a claim. You might want to take your documents overseas with you, or at least a digital copy or a note of your policy number.

If something goes wrong while you’re away, you should contact your insurance provider as soon as is practically possible. Most insurers ask that you make your claim within either 28 or 31 days

If you fall victim to a criminal, be sure to get an incident number before speaking to your insurer.