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Need Travel Insurance? Report Your Pre-existing Conditions

Are you hesitant about applying for travel insurance because you have a pre-existing medical condition?

Don’t be.

If insurers turned away all applicants who have some medical imperfection or take certain medications, or who are required to visit their physicians periodically, they would go out of business.

Travel insurers understand that very few people are in perfect health, many take medications for common ailments, and as people age they are expected to become more proactive in maintaining their good health. As a result, most individual travel policies today will cover many with pre-existing conditions, so long as the conditions are reported and insurers have a clear understanding of the conditions in question, and how they are being treated and maintained. But you must reveal them when applying.

Most policies will, in fact, allow coverage of certain pre-existing conditions if they have been stable and controlled over certain periods of time (up to 90, 180, or 365 days before application), or if they don’t require changes of medication or dosage, or have been referred for tests or specialist consultations.


Read and verify

But to take advantage of such allowances, you need to read the policy, understand how it defines “stable” and “controlled,” and be forthright in reporting the condition to your agent and making sure the application you complete is accurate. That means reading the confirmation of coverage after the insurer has sent the completed policy to you for verification.

And if your pre-existing condition is one that the insurer can’t cover—perhaps because it is unstable or you’re undergoing medication changes or are being referred for tests—you may still be covered for all other unrelated medical emergencies that may occur on your trip. It may be worth the risk. That’s your call.


A higher premium may still be considered small change

You may have to pay a higher premium if you have a pre-existing condition, but it will be up to you to determine if the extra payment is worth the peace of mind. A great deal of people whose claims have been denied for failure to disclose pre-existing conditions only wish they had paid the small supplements.

Most important: don’t hide your pre-existing condition, or make believe it doesn’t exist, or tell yourself that since it hasn’t caused you much pain it isn’t worth reporting.

Failure to report medical conditions, medications, treatments, even symptoms that are simply being investigated, is one of the surest ways to have a claim denied. Failure to disclose or misrepresenting your medical status is one of the most common—if not the most common—reasons for a claim denial, even if the non-disclosed condition has nothing to do with the claim being submitted.


One more tip

If you’re travelling on credit card insurance, understand that most do not provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. They may offer assistance to get you to a hospital, but they will not pay the medical bills. Read your policy well too.


Are you in vacation prep mode? Put travel medical insurance on the top of your list.