Do declare pre-existing medical conditions

Most people taking out a new travel insurance policy are confused by the term pre-existing medical condition. And it’s not surprising when medical conditions tend to be technically expressed, not always explained well and, if the condition is cured or controlled, often forgotten about over time. But this is just the area where holidaymakers get caught out because all policies will have clauses on whether certain medical conditions need to be declared before cover can be given. This is so easily overlooked at the time of purchase, more so for those who have free annual insurance through premium bank accounts.

Travel insurance companies argue that the medical cover provided by a travel insurance policy is there for emergency cover and is not a substitute for private medical insurance and all that travel insurance is covering for is the unforeseen medical emergency that might occur whilst on holiday and provide for hospital care in country and repatriation if required. Once back in the UK, patients can then use the NHS or individual private health care plan they may have in place. This allows travel insurance policies to have lower premiums than their private medical insurance equivalent though these premiums do vary considerably by area visited and the much higher medical costs in the USA will see North American destinations more costly than elsewhere. What travel insurance medical cover does have in its favour though is the wide network of specialist medical assistance companies to call in when an emergency does occur.

The big question will always be “will I be covered if I have a medical history and what does that mean exactly?” All policies have similar interpretations but you should read the medical section of a policy before taking out that travel insurance. A medical history of heart, kidney, respiratory conditions or cancer should be always declared and this may very well be expanded to the medical history of close family members and travelling companions. The reason for this is to allow the insurance company to see what the potential risk is of you cancelling or curtailing your trip or falling ill whilst abroad. An insurance provider may well decline you insurance at this point or may offer to cover you for an additional premium or may even insure you but void any subsequent claims if related to the declared condition.

Certainly you will not be covered if you travel against the medical advice of your doctor. So do you need to declare? Yes you do, though not all declarations will result in a higher premium but, provided you have done so and the insurer has provided you cover, then it will greatly simplify the process if you ever have to make a claim.


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