Truths and Myths About Travel Insurance for Medical Conditions

Travel insurance and medical conditions. If you believe the headlines, it’s not a great mix. And it’s true, a lot of people, unfortunately, have bad experiences trying to find travel insurance when they have a medical condition.

Some people report being refused cover by multiple insurance companies and are understandably left wondering where they can turn. But a far more common issue is being quoted prices that simply aren’t affordable to most holidaymakers.

Research from consumer information group Which? has revealed that the cost of travel insurance for a two-week trip to the United States can be more than the price of a transatlantic flight if you have a medical condition. Quotes for a single week in France can soar to over £1,000 if you are being treated for cancer. 

Figures like these are enough to leave anyone with a medical condition wondering if they should just abandon their travel plans. However, while such examples of sky-high quotes are very real, do they tell the full story about travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?

A lot of people end up giving up on their hopes of going on holiday because they assume their medical condition means they won’t be able to find affordable travel insurance. That’s not the case. There are good, comprehensive, reasonably priced medical travel insurance policies out there to be found.

Everyone deserves to be able to enjoy a holiday whether they have a medical condition or not. So what is the truth about finding travel insurance when you have a medical condition? Let’s take a look at the facts and dispel some myths while we’re at it.

Truth – Travel Insurance Does Cost More When You Have a Medical Condition

That’s an undeniable fact. And the reason is because a big part of the cover insurers provide on travel policies is for potential medical costs if you fall ill overseas. Medical care is expensive for foreign visitors in most countries. If you have a medical condition, you are judged to be a higher risk to insure, because you are more likely to need medical attention.

Myth – All Travel Insurance for Medical Conditions Costs Many Times More than Standard Cover

Medical travel insurance might be more expensive than standard, but the question is how much more expensive. The perception is that if you have a medical condition, you are automatically going to have to pay two, three, four times more for travel cover.

That’s not true. For a start, the price you are quoted will depend on lots of different factors, such as the type of condition you have, your age and your current state of health. It also depends on what type of insurance provider you go to. On average, specialists who cater specifically for customers with medical conditions charge half of what you’ll typically find through a mainstream comparison site.

Truth – You Have to Declare a Medical Condition When You Buy Travel Insurance

Some people ask, well if I’m going to be charged so much for medical travel insurance, why don’t I just keep quiet about my condition? You’d be strongly advised against doing this. It’s taking a huge risk.

If you end up making a claim against your travel insurance, your provider will look into your background, including your medical history. If they find out you have a medical condition that you didn’t declare, they will void your insurance. They will say you were sold the wrong type of cover based on an inaccurate assessment of your risk. 

This doesn’t just apply if you need to make a claim for medical treatment associated with your condition. It applies to your entire cover. So in effect, buying travel insurance without declaring a medical condition is a waste of time. Because it will be automatically invalidated if you have to make a claim.

Myth – You Have to Declare Your Full Medical History

For travel insurance purposes, a pre-existing medical condition is defined as something that currently affects your health and therefore could lead to you needing medical attention while you are away. That generally means:

  • Anything you are currently taking medication for.
  • A range of conditions you have had diagnosed or been treated for in the last two years, including diabetes, epilepsy, IBD, and more.
  • A handful of conditions including cancer, epilepsy, high blood pressure, and respiratory illnesses like asthma that you have to declare if you’ve ever been diagnosed with them.

The details vary from insurer to insurer, so be sure to read the terms carefully before you buy, or if you are unsure, talk to the provider directly.

Truth – You Have to Undergo Medical Screening

Insurers will ask you to complete an assessment process if you declare a medical condition. That’s because there’s no one size fits all approach to medical travel insurance. As mentioned, the cover they offer (and the price they charge) will depend on your condition, age, state of health, how long you’ve had it and so on. That means insurers have to have a process to gather all the information they need to be able to offer you a policy.

Myth – Medical Screening for Travel Insurance is Invasive

A lot of people worry that they will have to undergo a full medical examination in order to get travel insurance for a medical condition. Or that their doctor will be consulted to reveal details of their medical history. Neither of these is true.

Screening for medical travel insurance is done via a questionnaire. All you have to do is fill in a series of questions. A piece of software does the rest, providing insurers with a ‘risk score’ that they use to decide how much to charge. Specialist medical travel insurance providers will also use the details to put together a bespoke policy suited to your needs.

If you’re wondering how information from a questionnaire can be trusted, again, from the insurer’s point of view, the onus is on you to answer truthfully. If you don’t and they end up investigating a claim, they will look more fully into your medical history. Any discrepancies will give them a reason to declare your cover void.