Which pre-existing conditions do I have to declare?

Sam is confused by what constitutes a pre-existing condition for her travel insurance.

Q. Sam
My husband and I are thinking of booking travel later this year as we figure things should be safe around October. When it comes to travel insurance, though, we are a bit confused around how the pre-existing health conditions work. We both have high blood pressure, my husband suffers from a bad back, and I have a fatty liver. Do we have to declare all of these things? Will they still be covered if we suffer from health problems on our trip?

A. The definition of a pre-existing condition in travel insurance is a diagnosed medical condition that you or any person covered by the policy has had, or has received any form of medical advice, treatment or medication for in a specified time period before you bought the travel insurance policy.

Different insurers have different time frames for that period of time but government insurance contract regulations state: “A sickness, disease or disability to which a person was subject at any time during the period of six months before the contract was entered into and continues to be subject to after that time.”

Insurers do get around this legislation, however, with an exemption informing the policy holder in writing of the relevant provisions, which allows them to extend the time period for pre-existing conditions beyond six months.

As such, most policies cover a condition if it hasn’t led to treatment in the two years before you booked your trip, but there are others that may specify up to five years or even longer. This makes it especially important to check your product disclosure statement with regard to this time period.

There are a few companies with standard travel insurance packages that include a range of pre-existing medical conditions.

High blood pressure, being relatively common, may well be included in one of these packages. So may your husband’s back.

Pretty much every travel insurance company will offer travel insurance that includes some pre-existing conditions, although one policy may not cover both of your health conditions. So, you’ll have to do your research to find the best one for you. 

Most insurers include cover for some pre-existing medical conditions for free, but other conditions may require an additional fee in order to be covered.

Some policies can exclude all pre-existing medical conditions and others can require an assessment for cover of your condition (and charge a fee for this service), so research is very important and it is worth remembering that when it comes to travel insurance, you sometimes get what you pay for.

If your health conditions meet the insurer’s definition of a pre-existing condition (and these can vary) it is important to declare the condition if you want to be covered for it on your trip.

Have you ever had to make a travel insurance claim for a health issue on a trip overseas? Was it easy or difficult? Which insurer did you use?

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Written by Ben


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