Travel insurance pre existing conditions

Travel insurance horror stories don’t only exist in the murky depths of online message boards, or grammatically-sinful Google reviews. We’ve all heard one at some point. Jerry went on a culinary journey through the French countryside, but ended up needing emergency heart surgery. When he went to claim the overseas medical expenses on his travel insurance, he found that a pre-existing condition which he didn’t declare left him with a rejected claim and a $100,000 hospital bill.

The 2017-18 National Health Survey found that 47% of Australians live with a chronic medical condition. That’s almost 1 in 2 Aussies. If you’re one of those people, stories like Jerry’s aren’t much comfort. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not spent fretting over what could go wrong. Knowing if something does go wrong, the cost could be covered by your travel insurance, is one way of achieving peace of mind.

At Mozo, you might have noticed that we place a lot of emphasis on reading the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before you take out a travel insurance policy. It’s super important because a PDS contains information about policy exclusions, eligibility criteria, and specific limits on payouts. A PDS isn’t only important for those with pre-existing conditions however, and should be read by everyone before they sign on the dotted line.

This guide will give you a rundown of the ins and outs of travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, so that you know what to look for in a policy.

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing medical condition is generally considered one that you have been diagnosed with, or received treatment or medication for, within a certain time frame of purchasing the policy. While the list of pre-existing conditions and the time frames they fall within might be similar across many travel insurance providers, it’s always important to check the PDS for that extra assurance.

Some of the commonly covered pre-existing medical conditions include:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Sports injuries

Depending on the condition as well, the insurance provider may have specific eligibility requirements or state a period of time that your condition must not have worsened or changed in any way. For example, one travel insurance provider automatically covers asthma, provided that you have no other lung diseases and are under the age of 60 at the time of buying the policy.

With pregnancy, you might be covered up until the 26th week, but only if your child was conceived ‘naturally’ (e.g. not through IVF), there haven’t been any complications, and you’re not carrying twins or more.

Even if you think your medical condition isn’t something to worry about, you should always be transparent with your policy provider, as you never know when something might flare up. Better to be safe than sorry!

How to claim on your travel insurance

If you need to make a claim on your insurance you will need:

  • A police report. If you’ve had items lost or stolen you will need to have a copy of a police or security report that details when, when and what was lost or stolen and the value of the items.
  • Copies of all receipts related to the claim. If you’re claiming for trip cancellations or lost luggage, you’ll need to show copies of receipts or invoices that detail deposit amounts and the cost of lost items.
  • Your policy number. You will need to submit a claim form (usually online) with details of your policy number and traveller details.
  • Pay the excess. You’ll need to pay the excess for every event you are claiming for on your policy.

Mozo top tip: It’s a good idea to file your claim in a timely manner as soon as you return home as many insurance providers will have deadlines for making claims. Generally you will have around 30 days from your date of return.

What to do if your travel insurance claim is rejected

If you feel that your insurance claim has been rejected for no just reason you can lodge a complaint with the financial ombudsman service.

The first step however would be to contact the insurance company and ask for a detailed explanation why they are rejecting the claim. If this doesn’t resolve the issue you can then lodge a formal complaint.

Other FAQs on pre-existing conditions

Will I have to pay an extra premium if I have a pre-existing condition?

Not always. Many travel insurance providers have standard policies that will include automatic cover for a set number of pre-existing medical conditions at no extra cost. However, it’s important to check out the eligibility requirements for coverage as sometimes there will be certain requirements.

Another important thing to note is that you should always disclose any condition (including ones that aren’t automatically covered) so that if something happens which puts you in a hospital bed in a foreign country, you might be able to claim the expenses back. While you may have to pay an extra premium if your condition isn’t listed, or you do not meet the eligibility requirements, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip with more peace of mind.

If you’ve had a serious injury or illness such as heart conditions or cancer it is likely that you will need to get specialist cover and this will require you to pay an extra premium. It’s also worth noting some providers won't cover routine treatments or management of your conditions, like getting blood tests or prescription renewals.

Will I need to get a medical evaluation to take out travel insurance with a pre-existing condition?

Many travel insurance companies will have an online medical screening process as part of the application which will let you explain your medical history and provide some information about any pre-existing conditions you might have. In many instances, you won’t be required to get a doctor’s certificate and the insurance provider will be able to advise you if they are able to provide you with cover.

However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, some insurance providers will require you to get a medical evaluation or doctor's report to prove that you are fit to travel. While it sounds inconvenient, it could make a huge difference in the event that you're hospitalised overseas.

When should I buy my insurance?

You should buy your holiday insurance as soon as you make your travel plans and pay for any accommodation, flights or pre-booked tours.

At the time of purchasing your travel insurance you’ll need to be ‘fit to travel’ even if your trip is several months away. You will only be covered for trip cancellation if you need to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances related to your pre-existing condition. If you have been ill in the lead-up to the trip, you may not be covered. Your provider will have the right, should you make a claim, to consult your medical history.

If my condition can’t be covered, can I still get travel insurance?

If your pre-existing condition can’t be covered, you unfortunately only have two options: modify your travel plans or take the risk. You’ll still be able to get travel insurance for all the standard inclusions like luggage, car rental excess, cancellation and other illness not related to your condition, but claims arising from or related to your pre-existing condition won’t be covered.

Other than medical, what other travel insurance cover should I get?

When taking out a travel insurance policy, you’ll usually have a number of options to choose from. These can range from a basic policy to comprehensive cover. If you’ve got a pre-existing condition, it’s likely that you’ll want the highest possible medical cover available, but travel insurance can cover you for many of the standards including:

Lost baggage and personal effects. If your luggage decides to go on its own adventure without you, you’ll be able to claim for lost or damaged items. You can also be covered for delayed baggage.

Trip cancellation. If you need to cancel your trip, you’ll receive compensation for any non-recoverable deposits paid, like pre-booked accommodation.

Rental car excess cover. If you’re renting a car while on holiday, you can say no to the expensive excess reduction cover on offer from the car rental companies.

Accidental death or injury. If you are permanently disabled as a result of an accident or die while you are away, you or your estate will receive money to pay for repatriation or loss of income.

Emergency dental. Pulled out a filling on some English toffee? Emergency dental care is usually included in travel insurance, but be aware that ongoing dental work when back in Australia usually isn’t.

Want to compare other types of travel insurance?Take a look at seniors, multi, domestic and international travel insurance to find the best deals!