Pre-existing medical condition – Declare or not?

Most people taking out a new travel insurance policy
are confused by the term pre-existing medical condition and it is an
area that the insurance industry is currently trying to address and
simplify. After all, medical conditions tend to be technically
expressed, not always explained well and, if cured or controlled, often
forgotten about over time.

So why do insurers make such a song and dance about it? Well put simply, insurers 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. There are specialist products on the market for
private health care 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 and there will be strict
rules on when you can travel if pregnant. 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



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