You do not have to let a pre-existing medical condition stop you from traveling. Many people with a similar situation are still able to take up travel insurance. However, you need to know how to apply for travel insurance properly, or you could end up forfeiting your insurance premiums.
This article provides useful tips on how to minimize the risk of losing out on your travel insurance premiums just because you didn’t know you have to disclose your medical condition at the time of purchase.
First, you need to understand what constitutes a pre-existing medical condition. If you have an illness or injury that has been ongoing within a specified time frame prior to applying for travel insurance, you have a pre-existing medical condition. The time period varies from insurer to insurer, and could range from months to even years for different conditions, so you’ll need to do some homework.
Any medical condition must be declared when applying for travel insurance. Read the pre-existing medical conditions exclusion of the insurance plan very carefully. The most common exclusions are for medical problems such as asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular problems (including hypertension), cerebrovascular problems (strokes and brain haemorrhages) and cancer.
If you travel with your family, make sure that every family member is insured. The pre-existing medical conditions of every family member insured should be declared separately.
Be sure to declare on your application form if
- you are on regular medications for cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure
- you are under review for any medical complication regardless of whether treatment or medication has been started or not
- you have had any tests recently and have not yet received the all clear
- you have been involved in any accident in the past twelve months
- you have sustained injuries in the past twelve months
Pregnant women should be aware that most travel insurance plans do not cover claims made during the last few weeks of pregnancy and directly after birth.
Online application forms for medical travel insurance may not offer a comprehensive-enough checklist of questions. If you are in doubt as to whether you need to declare a medical condition, call or email the insurer to check. If you choose to call your insurer, be sure to note down the name of the staff who handled your enquiry. Any written response from the insurer should be properly filed in case you need it for reference later.
If you have had a medical condition before which has been fully controlled with medication without the need for further treatment throughout the time period, it may not require extra cover. Just get your doctor to write a letter, with his or her contact details to certify it. This will allow your insurer to get in touch with your doctor in case more information is required. This could avoid any unnecessary exclusion and save you a significant amount of insurance premium.
Buy your travel insurance directly from the insurance company, not from your tour operator. If the tour operator goes under, so does your policy. Ensure that you are medically fit to travel.
Finally, remember to apply for your travel cover at least three to four weeks before your trip. This will give you sufficient time to clarify any doubts that you may have concerning your pre-existing medical condition, and obtain the necessary supporting documentation from your doctors.
When you buy travel insurance for pre-existing medical condition, you are likely to face one of these three outcomes:
1) the insurance company accepts your application in full, but at a significantly higher premium
2) the insurance company will provide travel cover excluding your pre-existing medical condition
3) the insurance company will decline your application
Unless the insurance company completely declines your application, it is always best to make sure you are insured when traveling, even if the cover excludes your pre-existing medical condition, or additional premium is required.
This is because medical expenses incurred could easily spiral to more than ten thousand, or even more than a hundred thousand dollars, depending on the situation. Paying an insurance premium will give you the much-needed peace of mind when you travel.