Guide to travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions

Getting the right travel insurance is one of those mundane pre-holiday tasks that could just turn out to be the most important part of your preparation.

It’s even more important, and can be a little more tricky, to get the right cover if you need insurance to cover you for a pre-existing medical condition.

On any health-related insurance application, you’ll need to declare any conditions you’ve either suffered from in the past or have at the time you travel – failure to do so could invalidate any claim.

And that’s where the problems start, as many insurers will exclude cover relating to any of these pre-existing conditions – or charge a hefty additional premium.

Failure to get the right cover could leave you with large healthcare bills if you’re taken ill in a country that doesn’t provide free healthcare, which is nearly all of them, and no redress if you need to change your flight arrangements or need a relative or carer to stay with you.

If you’re staying in Europe, a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will allow you get treatment in state-run hospitals or dentists on the same basis as the locals in any country in the “European Economic Area” – which includes Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Association of British Insurers recommends using the EHIC for more minor treatments such a visit to dentists or doctors, and claiming on your more comprehensive travel insurance for more serious or emergency medical treatment.

We’ve put together a few frequently asked questions about travel insurance for people with pre-existing conditions:

Can I get cover for my pre-existing medical condition or disability?

Yes, specialist insurance brokers like Chartwell are perfectly placed to provide a competitive quote that will provide the right cover whether you are travelling with a wheelchair, need a carer, or need to take special medication with you on holiday.

Will it be more expensive than standard travel insurance?

Healthcare is almost always the most expensive part of a travel insurance claim, and therefore insurers are likely to charge a little more for people who are more likely to need to claim. But if you speak to a specialist broker and give as much information as possible about your condition, they will be able help you find the best deal.

What questions will the insurer ask me about my condition?

Insurers will want to know the exact nature of the condition or disability, what medication you have been prescribed and when, and what treatment had been received. They will probably want to know if you are awaiting surgery or treatment, and whether you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

What type of conditions do I need to disclose?

You need to make your insurer aware of conditions relating to circulatory problems like strokes, high blood pressure or cholesterol issues; heart and respiratory conditions; cancer; liver conditions; mental health conditions, including eating disorders. This is not an exhaustive list, and you should refer to your insurer if you are unclear what you should disclose.

Will my medication be covered?

Yes, not only is your medication covered, but urgent replacement is covered up to a value of £300.

What if my carer becomes ill?

If you are travelling with a carer and they have a policy with Chartwell and fall ill, costs to fly out a replacement carer will be paid.

What if the airline won’t let me fly?

It will usually be a condition of the policy that you are “fit to travel” when embarking on your holiday. On rare occasions, an airline may not let you fly if they think the flight will exacerbate your condition or endanger other passengers, so you should always check the airline’s policy before booking your flight.

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