How to find travel insurance if you have pre-existing health conditions

If you have pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, or any other medical issue you’re receiving ongoing treatment for, this is likely to bump up the cost of travel insurance.

Travellers aged in their 60s, 70s and beyond already often face higher travel insurance premiums – because the older you are, statistically the higher the risk that you’ll fall ill while you’re away. Therefore if you’re in this age bracket and you have a pre-existing condition, you’re likely to pay the highest prices for insurance. However, there are lots of ways to save and still get a decent policy which will provide the cover you need.

Here we explain what to watch out for when buying travel cover, and where to find an affordable policy.

What impact does having a health condition have on travel insurance?

If you have a health condition, you’ll be classed by insurers as being at greater risk of making a claim when you’re away, and your travel insurance premiums will therefore be higher to reflect this additional risk.

This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to buy cover, but you do need to tell your insurer about any condition you already know about, however mild or serious it is.

This can either be when you buy the insurance, or if you’ve already purchased an annual policy, as soon as you find out about the condition. In some cases you might still be able to buy standard insurance but it all depends on the insurer and the type of medical condition you have. Your condition may be covered by your policy, or the insurer may decide to list it as an exclusion, so that you aren’t covered for claims associated with your particular medical issue.

If you fail to tell the insurer about a condition you did know about, and something happens which is related to it, your claim might be rejected. For example, if you have a heart condition and then have a heart attack – if you haven’t told the insurer in advance, you won’t be able to claim for medical costs, or repatriation back to the UK if you need it.

What about Coronavirus and travel insurance?

If you are looking to get travel insurance now, there are policies available which cover Coronavirus-related cancellations, but typically only if you or someone else in the party you’re travelling with gets Coronavirus and you’re unable to travel.

Travel insurance won’t provide cancellation cover if government advice changes, so, for example, if the country you’re travelling to changes from ‘green’ meaning you can go there without isolating on return, to ‘red’, which would mean you have to quarantine in a hotel on your return.

As with any type of insurance, it’s essential to read the policy small print carefully so that you know exactly what you are and aren’t covered for. It’s also important to buy insurance as soon as you have a trip booked. This is because as soon as you buy the policy you are covered, should you need to cancel for any reason – such as you falling ill and not being able to go.

Here, we outline what your policy needs to include:

Medical cover

Insurers describe pre-existing conditions, both physical or mental, as a condition which someone has had treatment for, or seen a doctor about. How insurers will view conditions which were treated many years ago will vary from provider to provider so check this before you buy a policy.

As most countries outside of the UK don’t have a free health service, like the NHS, people usually have to pay for medical treatment, either through a health insurance policy or paying when they need it. These costs can be high and this is what your travel insurance should pay out for.

Your policy should also pay out for repatriation back to the UK if you need it and in the worst case scenario, cremation costs.

Cancellation of a holiday

Holiday cancellation can be for any reason, such as if you’ve fallen ill and can’t travel or the holiday the travel company has gone into administration.

Your insurer will have a list of reasons it will accept and as long as you have cover in place, you should be able to use it to get back any costs you’ve already paid out.

Delays to your travel

If you’re stranded because of bad weather or a strike means your flight is later than planned, you may be covered under your travel insurance.

It’s important to check the wording here, as often insurers may expect you to ask for a refund, or compensation from the travel provider first. Some will also only allow you to claim for specific reasons, which should be listed in the policy wording.

Lost, stolen, or damaged belongings

If your belongings are lost, stolen, or damaged you will be able to claim on your policy. Within the policy wording there will be an upper limit for how much you can claim for so if you’ve got a lot of expensive items, you’ll need to make sure the limit covers these.

For things that are worth a lot, such as cameras, laptops, and jewellery you may have to list these separately or buy a separate policy for them.

Personal liability

Most insurers include personal liability cover of around £2m as standard. This will pay out if you accidentally harm someone else or their property while on holiday.

Where to buy travel insurance

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to buy insurance is through a comparison website, such as Gocompare.com, payingtoomuch.comcomparethemarket.com and MoneySuperMarket.

However, some providers selling insurance for those with pre-existing conditions won’t be listed by these sites. If you have a serious condition, such as cancer for example, you may need to buy a specialist policy. Find out more in our article Travel insurance if you have cancer.

The Money Advice Service’s Travel Insurance Directory has a list of 30 specialist insurers who provide insurance for people who are more likely to need medical intervention while they are away.

If you’re still having problems, either because you can’t find insurance or the price is really high, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has a service whereby it can match you with an insurer providing specialist cover.

Is a single policy cheaper than an annual policy?

For those with serious health conditions, a single policy is often a cheaper option than buying an annual travel insurance policy, unless you make several trips overseas each year. Always check quotes for both before you buy. 

Have you found it difficult to find an affordable travel insurance policy that will cover your pre-existing medical condition? If so, we’d be interested in hearing from you. You can join the money conversation on the Rest Less community or leave a comment below.

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