Travel Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions – Tips for Getting a Suitable Policy!

Group of backpackers watch the sunset in Thailand.

Arranging travel insurance for pre-existing conditions feels like an insurmountable task. Every time you think you’ve cracked it, a new obstacle emerges and you spend all day going around in circles. ?‍?  

But you have to be careful and take your time. If you make a mistake and are wrong about your cover, there’s no way your insurer will pay out should you need to make a claim. It’s up to you to get it right. Always talk to your insurer and ask them as many questions as you need to – the more answers you get in writing, the better! 

After arranging multiple travel insurance policies for ongoing conditions, I’ve learnt how to make the process as smooth as it can be. Today, I’m sharing everything I know to help you choose the best travel insurance for your pre-existing condition!

For some background, I have a spinal cord injury (SCI) that happened over a decade ago. I suffer from chronic pain and use items only available on prescription every day. I’ve travelled through Southeast Asia, South America and Europe since my SCI and every trip has been insured. Travelling with a pre-existing condition is possible!

Pre-existing Condition Travel Insurance – What You Need to Know!

Where To Find Pre-existing Medical Condition Travel Insurance: Quick Answers!!

The following insurance comparison websites all allow you to filter the results and find companies that insure pre-existing conditions!
Square Mouth
Insure My Trip
Medical Travel Compared (UK Only)

Related: (links open in a new tab)

What Is Considered a Pre-existing Condition?

Put simply, a pre-existing medical condition is a medical issue you’ve known about and lived with prior to getting insured. 

Person at a computer, choosing their travel insurance for pre-existing condition and wearing a medical condition bracelet
If you live with a condition, your insurer will need to know about it!

However, travel insurance is rarely that simple and each provider has their own definition of what a pre-existing condition is – and how it will affect your policy. The price, duration or level of cover can all be affected by an insurer’s definition of your condition. 

Look Back Period

To determine whether you have a pre-existing condition, an insurer might look back at your medical history. The look-back period is how far back they’ll go into your notes. Some only look at the last 60 days to see if you’ve received treatment or medications. Others look back further – sometimes up to three years! ?

Some insurers will offer medical cover if your condition is stable and your medication hasn’t changed during the look-back period, whereas others will refuse to insure you if you take any medication at all.

A pile of dates jumbled out of order
How far back an insurer will look is dependent on your policy!

It’s worth noting that a lot of ‘normal’ travel insurance companies have exclusions about pre-existing medical conditions written into their policies. This means they either won’t insure you or won’t provide you with the same level of cover as the average traveller.  

Luckily, many insurance firms offer coverage for the acute onset of a stable but pre-existing medical condition. You’ll need to check the policy wording carefully to see if acute onset of a medical condition is covered. 

What Is Acute Onset of a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

Acute onset of a pre-existing medical condition is a sudden and unexpected recurrence or outbreak of an ongoing condition that was previously controlled and stable. It’s not acute onset if a physician warns you it’s about to happen or if you display symptoms that can be interpreted as a warning. Acute onset usually sees new symptoms progressing rapidly and requires immediate care. 

A digital nomad works on her laptop in Southeast Asia.
Get to know the definitions and jargon in your policy!

Many, but not all, insurance companies offer cover for the acute onset of a pre-existing medical condition as part of their standard policies. To qualify for this, you usually need to inform them of the condition but specify that it’s stable and has remained unchanged for an extended period. 

Pre-existing Medical Condition Waivers

While general travel insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions, and have exclusions built into their policy wording to ensure this is the case, some providers offer waivers to these exclusions. This means that if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can still get insurance and that you’ll be covered for your condition while travelling. 

To be eligible for a waiver, you need to jump through a bunch of hoops – and once again, the hoops are different depending on the insurance company. (Sigh.) They usually involve:

  • Getting insurance within a set time after booking your trip
  • Insuring the trip to its full value
  • Being medically allowed to travel
  • The trip not costing above a certain amount

It’s worth noting that these waivers are only offered by some insurers and on some plans. I’ve never seen a pre-existing condition waiver offered to a traveller from the UK but I have friends from the USA who have taken advantage of these waivers. You’ll need to check with your insurer of choice to see if they offer one. 

Be Aware

These waivers aren’t free and will increase the price of your policy. It’s also worth noting that you won’t be required to show evidence that you’re eligible for the waiver at the time of buying. You’ll only need to prove you are eligible if you make a claim. So it’s your responsibility to understand your eligibility and to keep all evidence that you may require should you make a claim.

How to Find Travel Insurance Policy for Pre-existing Medical Conditions:

With so many companies offering different policies, choosing the best insurance for pre-existing conditions can be a real hassle.

Using a price comparison site like Square Mouth or Insure My Trip is a good place to start. They allow you to filter for companies that offer insurance for pre-existing conditions. If you’re from the UK, Medical Travel Compared are a specialist price comparison website for travellers with medical conditions. 

Travel insurance brokers, like World Wide Insure, are also a good place to look for specialist cover. They work closely with insurance companies and travellers to deliver a tailored service. World Wide Insure are consistently rated well on Trustpilot and can find cover for a vast range of pre-existing conditions. 

Man stressed while looking for travel insurance
WARNING! Travel insurance for ongoing conditions is known to cause stress and confusion!

If you’re from the UK, the following insurers offer excellent cover for pre-existing conditions:

  • Insure and Go
  • Staysure
  • Free Spirit Travel Insurance 

Tips for Getting Travel Insurance for Ongoing Medical Conditions

Read Your Description of Coverage Carefully

Ideally, you’ll know your insurance inside out before you make the purchase. However, we all know that insurance is boring, tedious and has a tendency to make travellers glaze over. At a minimum, read the description of coverage carefully as soon as you buy the policy (if you haven’t already) – especially the sections about exclusions. 

Girl at desk with computer
It’s boring but read the small print carefully!

All travel insurance comes with a grace period, so if, after reading the small print, you realise you’ve not got the cover you thought, you can cancel free of charge! Just don’t wait for the grass to grow beneath your feet! 

Be Honest

You need to tell your insurer everything about your condition – including any changes (positive or negative) that happen after you’ve purchased your policy. If your insurer finds out you’ve not given them all the relevant information, whether on purpose or accidentally, you may find your coverage invalidated. ?

Shop Around

Make sure you’ve got the best coverage for your needs, at the best price, by shopping around. Getting quotes from different insurers, visiting separate price comparison sites and using multiple brokers is the only way to see all your options. 

Get Insurance As Soon as Your Trip Is Booked

Usually, the best time to buy travel insurance depends on the policy. However, if you’ve got an ongoing condition, you’ll need to get insured as soon as the trip is booked. Pre-existing condition travel insurance should always include cancellation coverage, so if something changes with your condition and you can’t take the trip, you can claim the cost back from your insurance provider. 

Never Under Insure Yourself

Never insure a trip for less than it’s worth. And never for a shorter amount of time than you’re travelling. This could cause you a huge problem if you need to claim! 

Plane Flying
Make sure your whole trip is insured – flights and all!

You may be tempted to downplay your condition to get a lower premium. Remember that the questions asked by your insurer are not a test – there is no option to fail! Be honest with them about everything – that way they can’t wriggle out of paying if you need to make a claim! 

Get Insurance (and All Major Payments) on a Credit Card

When purchasing your travel health insurance (and when making any large purchases for that matter), you should pay on a credit card. Using a credit card offers an extra layer of protection because if something goes wrong and you don’t receive the service you’ve paid for, the credit card company is liable to make sure you’re not out of pocket. They will pay you back the money you’re owed. 

Almost Everything Is Insurable

No matter what anyone tells you, you can almost always find insurance. It might cost significantly more than you feel is fair but it will be available if you look hard enough. If a mainstream insurance company won’t cover your condition, keep searching, you’ll find a specialist somewhere who will! 

Jai Thep Festival - Thailand Festivals
Don’t let an ongoing condition hold you back from living your best life!

FAQs About Travel Insurance for Ongoing Medical Conditions

Does travel insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

In general no, travel insurance does not cover pre-existing medical conditions. However, some policies offer waivers for pre-existing conditions, allowing you to get travel insurance as you normally would. Just be sure to read the description of coverage carefully to see if you qualify for a waiver. 
Specialist insurance is also available for those who cannot get standard travel insurance. You can find this from specific specialist insurers, brokers and insurance comparison websites.  

What happens if I develop a condition after getting travel insurance?

Always tell your travel insurance provider if your health status changes. They may increase the cost of your travel insurance, or cancel it completely, but it’s better to know ahead of time than have them deny a claim later down the line. 

Does pregnancy count as a pre-existing condition?

Generally, pregnancy doesn’t count as a pre-existing condition. However, insurers might have pregnancy-related complications built into their exclusions. Always check your description of coverage carefully to see if pregnancy is covered in your policy (if applicable!). 

Do I need a note from my doctor to travel if I have a pre-existing condition?

Usually, you don’t need a fit-for-travel note from your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition. However, some insurers may ask for one. All pre-existing condition travel insurance requires that you be fit enough to travel so getting a doctor’s note isn’t a bad idea just to be safe! 

Can I get travel insurance if I’m waiting on a diagnosis?

Some insurers will allow you to buy a policy if you’re awaiting a diagnosis. However, you’ll have to tell them you’re waiting and they will require that you disclose the results of the diagnosis as soon as possible. Be prepared for your premium to change or for your policy to be cancelled if the diagnosis isn’t good. 

Do I need to disclose my pre-existing condition when purchasing travel insurance?

Yes, you need to tell your insurance provider about any pre-existing conditions. If you don’t, your insurance will be invalidated when you come to make a claim. 
Remember, be completely honest with your insurer about your condition. Don’t try and play it down to get a lower premium, this will only come back to bite you if you need to make a claim! 

How do I file a claim for a pre-existing condition with travel insurance?

To make an insurance claim related to a pre-existing condition, you need to ensure it’s covered! After that, it’s the same as making a normal travel insurance claim.
Contact your insurance company
Have all evidence and paperwork ready
Follow your insurer’s instructions
Wait for their decision

A Round-Up of Travel Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions

Travel should be for everyone, so don’t let your pre-existing condition hold you back! Finding the right travel insurance can be difficult if you have health issues but it’s not impossible. It will take longer and likely cost you more, but having a good policy will protect you should something go wrong while abroad. 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the world like everybody else!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Basket
Scroll to Top