Everyone loves the excitement of going on holiday. Travelling allows you to leave your worries at home, forget about everything, and mostly just enjoy the experience – unless you have a pre-existing condition.
Travelling with a pre-existing medical condition makes getting travel insurance that little bit more important. Although it might make your cover more complicated or expensive, it ensures that you are covered for any incidents related to your condition, so it doesn’t affect your holiday or travel more than it needs to.
What is considered a pre-existing medical condition?
A pre-existing medical condition is – as the name would suggest – a condition that existed prior to your insurance purchase, which:
- has been investigated and treated;
- is something you have recently received professional medical advice and prescribed medicine for;
- is something you have been operated on in the past (12 or 24 months limit depending on insurers); or
- affects you with any ongoing issues or chronic illnesses which have been diagnosed.
Who should consider travel insurance with pre-existing medical extra cover?
If you have a known pre-existing medical condition or you believe you might have a condition that could affect your trip, taking out travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions is recommended. It is also best to get a medical check-up before your trip, so you can disclose any important information to your travel insurer.
Travellers with a pre-existing condition are more common than you may think. According to our research in the Australian Travel Insurance market, approximately 30% of all travellers seek cover for their pre-existing medical condition.
Of the 1,000 travellers that participated in a survey of Australia’s Travel Insurance behaviour, it was found that 27% of travellers had a pre-existing condition or had been referred for hospital treatment in the last 12 months. However, roughly the same number of travellers (28%) did not check their travel insurance policy, and 39% had checked their policy but weren’t sure of their coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Around two thirds of travellers (67%) may be unknowingly underinsured or not insured for their pre-existing condition, which makes it all the more important to understand what you are covered for by your travel insurance, and to add pre-existing medical cover if it applies to you.
What does travel insurance for pre-existing conditions usually cover?
General travel insurance coverage can differ between providers and different levels of cover (basic, standard, or comprehensive cover). Depending on your level of coverage, travel insurance will usually include a range of things you are covered for, however there may be conditions or limits with all levels of cover (usually lower limits with basic, and higher limits with comprehensive).
With travel insurance, you will have limited and conditional cover for:
- Overseas hospital and medical fees,
- Curtailment (cover for accommodation and booked services if you need to cut your trip short for various reason)
- Luggage and property (stolen, lost, and damaged),
- Travel delays.
By adding cover for a pre-existing medical condition as part of your travel insurance policy, you will generally receive cover for expenses of overseas emergency medical and hospital services that may be a result of your pre-existing medical condition.
It is always best to advise your insurer of your condition and be advised of the extent of the cover.
Some travel insurance policies are built around coverage that considers all pre-existing medical conditions, while some only provide automatic cover for a limited number of pre-existing medical conditions.
These are accepted on the terms that the condition has been stable and hasn’t needed medical attention or hospital treatment for the last 12 months (or 24 months with some providers), and there is no planned surgery or treatment for it in the near future.
Some extreme pre-existing medical conditions may induce higher travel insurance premiums, more insurance conditions, and may need a medical assessment before cover is granted. These include:
- heart problems (coronary angiography, using pacemaker);
- deep vein thrombosis;
- lung disease;
- certain types of diabetes; or
- conditions where you’ve had surgery in the past 12 months or 24 months, depending on the insurer.