Finding travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition
It can be tough to track down affordable travel insurance if you've been ill or have a pre-existing medical condition.
Likewise, if you develop a new medical condition - or your health changes - it's not always clear whether your policy will cover you. Fortunately, our guide assembles the key information you'll need on travel insurance policies and illness.
Read on to find out:
Best rate travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions
If you have a pre-existing medical condition or have been ill in the past, mainstream travel insurers may charge a higher premium to cover you, while others might exclude your conditions entirely.
However, there are specialists who can help. We've looked at two kinds of policy and the prices offered to travellers with high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer or heart disease.
Find out more: If you have - or have had - cancer, see our guide on finding good travel insurance that doesn't cost the earth.
The providers with the best prices are listed in the table below.
The policies listed had to meet our minimum criteria – at least £2 million (Europe) or £5 million (worldwide) worth of medical cover (including air ambulance; at least £1,500 of cover for baggage or personal belongings, and cover for lost or stolen money; £3,000 for cancellation and curtailment; a minimum of £1 million of personal liability cover; a 24-hour emergency helpline that you can call for advice; and help and cover for legal expenses.
|Best rate cover for pre-existing medical conditions|
|Provider||High blood pressurea||Diabetesb||Breast cancerc||Heart diseased|
|Best rates: Single trip (15 day trip to Europe for a 70 year old)|
|All Clear Traveller||£46||£46||£46||£91|
|Blue Bear Travel Gold||-||£29||£29||£76|
|Get Going Travel Premier||£32||£32||£32||£67|
|Travel Insurance Medical Standard||£46||-||-||£69|
|Best rates: Annual multi trip (worldwide policy for a 50 year old)|
|All Clear Gold||-||-||£109||-|
|Get Going Travel Premier||-||-||-||£202|
|Leisurecare Multi Traveller||£63||£90||£114||-|
|Top Notch Cover Gold||£69||£69||-||-|
|Travel Insurance Medical Standard||-||-||-||£173|
|World First Standard||-||-||£81||£143|
|Your Travel Cover Gold||£64||£64||-||-|
The premiums above are illustrations only and will vary depending on your individual medical conditions. Premiums were gathered during September 2017. It's worth checking with the insurer as there is a possibility the premiums have changed. This information is updated on a six-monthly basis - next update is due in May 2018.
a Has had high blood pressure for two to three years and takes ramipril once a day. A smoker with high cholesterol levels
b Has type 2 diabetes and takes medication before each meal
c Diagnosed with breast cancer 18 months ago. Had a mastectomy and then chemotherapy and radiotherapy. And takes one Arimadix tablet daily
d Suffered a heart attack 2 years ago, but now fit to travel. Take the following medication - Aspirin, Beta blocker (acebutolol), Ace inhibitor (metoprolol), Statin (Fluvastatin), GTN spray as and when required
What happens if your health changes after buying a travel insurance policy?
Notifying your insurer
You could be forgiven for thinking that once you've taken out your insurance - having declared any pre-existing medical conditions - subsequent changes in your health will be covered by your policy.
Unfortunately, you can't bank on this being the case. Many policies come with a clause - often referred to as an 'ongoing duty of disclosure' - which means you need to contact the insurer if your health does change.
Your insurer will reassess the terms of your cover in light of this new information. It may decide not to change anything about your cover and premiums. However, it may also choose to:
- increase your premium
- add an exclusion into your cover (for claims related to the new condition)
- cancel your cover
In the last instance, you should be refunded for any premiums paid, and should also be able to make a cancellation claim if you have to rearrange or cancel your holiday.
Most importantly, if you've failed to report a change in your health at the earliest point, the insurer might decline to pay any claim resulting from it.
Finding your insurer's terms on medical conditions
Insurers set out their specific terms around disclosure in a section of the policy document called 'health declaration' or something similar. Check this before purchase - but also also see our table below to compare different insurers' requirements on reporting changes in health.
What counts as a 'change in health'?
Technically speaking, a wide range of events could conceivably be described as a change in health - from catching a cold to being diagnosed with a heart condition. Insurers have different requirements on what needs to be reported to them - and this can sometimes also vary depending on the type of policy you buy.
Others require you let them know if you're symptoms have led to tests or a medical investigation. Several expect you to get in touch is if you've received any medical advice at all.
What happens if a travel companion or relative falls ill?
Most travel insurers will provide some cover for losses if certain uninsured parties - such as a relative, close friend, travel companion, business partner or person with whom you've arranged to stay falls ill - and you have to change your plans as a result.
There are subtle differences, though, in the criteria set by insurers for when this cover applies - so it's well worth checking the T&Cs if this is of concern to you.
Who counts as 'close family'?
Insurers typically list in their policy documents which relatives count as 'close' and are therefore within the scope of the policy. These include spouses, siblings and parents.
However, not all insurers cover nieces/nephews or uncles/aunts within their definition. Similarly, while most cover unmarried partners and in-laws, few include the close family of unmarried partners.
The insurer is unlikely to pay out claims arising from the ill health of a close friend or relative if it's considered to have been caused by a pre-existing condition.
But how 'pre-existing' is defined will depend on the insurer: With some insurers, a condition (such as a heart condition) is thought of as 'pre-existing' if it predated the purchase of the policy - regardless of whether or not the policyholder was aware of it.
Other insurers use a more lenient definition - where the policyholder has to have been aware of the condition when buying the insurance for it to count as 'pre-existing'.
What if I've not been treated fairly?
If you feel like you've been caught out by an unexpected clause in your insurance when it comes to claiming, don't be afraid to make a complaint.
Do so in writing (or email) if you can, using the insurer's complaints process.
If the insurer isn't proving helpful, take the matter up with the Financial Ombudsman Service by calling 0300 123 9123