There’s no getting around it, finding and buying travel insurance can be a lot tougher if you are diagnosed with a long-term medical condition.
Where once you simply logged onto a comparison site, typed in your travel details and got a long list of low-cost options to choose from, as soon as you mention a medical condition, things change.
Prices shoot up, insurers you once bought from regularly refuse to sell you a policy. And however tempted you are to simply not declare your condition after the first couple of knockbacks, you dare not take the risk.
If you end up having to claim on a policy and you haven’t told your insurer about a medical condition, that will automatically invalidate your cover. If your claim is for medical treatment while you are abroad, that could leave you with a huge bill to foot.
Why is buying travel insurance if you have a medical condition trickier than if you don’t? The problem is that insurers don’t like taking on what they call ‘known risks’. If you have a medical condition, then there is a known risk that you could fall ill and need medical attention while you are on your travels.
Healthcare for foreign visitors in most countries is expensive, as it is charged at private rates without state subsidies. Travel insurance providers know this, and in their eyes, they are already taking on a big financial risk offering cover for unforeseen illnesses and accidents. Anything the increases that risk, they either decline to take it on or charge handsomely for the privilege.
Unfortunately, there is no way of getting around the fact that travel insurance will cost more once you have been diagnosed with a condition. But that doesn’t mean you should be paying so much that it makes you question whether going on holiday full stop is even worthwhile.
Here are some tips for keeping the costs down and making the experience of buying travel insurance as stress-free as possible.
Never accept the first quotation
On mainstream insurance comparison sites, it’s easy to get into the habit of sorting results by price, and assuming the top results are the best deals you are going to get. When shopping for travel insurance that covers a pre-existing medical condition, that will hardly ever be the case. Even if you get a quotation that sounds reasonable, the best providers for medical cover overseas are often not even on the comparison sites.
Shop around for medical travel cover specialists
Certain providers specialise in travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. It’s a pretty big niche market, so it makes sense that someone caters for it. These are the people who will offer you the best deals for your condition, so it is worth spending some time online researching who they are and what they offer.
Ignore offers of general medical condition cover
You might come across policies that are advertised as including medical condition cover but without any details about specific conditions. Avoid. By its very nature, medical travel cover has to be linked to medical needs. The treatment you might need (and what it costs) if you have, say, a heart condition is very different to the requirements for asthma.
You want to know that your insurance policy will cover everything you need so you don’t end up footing the bill for treatment after all. The only way to be sure of that is to get a policy that spells out in black and white the details of your condition and all the treatment costs included.
Check the details of COVID cover
Finally, in the current climate people naturally want the reassurance of being covered if they catch COVID and fall ill while abroad. While lots of travel insurance policies offer this, beware of exceptions linked to certain medical conditions – especially those that make you more clinically vulnerable to the disease. Also, watch out for clauses that are linked to you having had a full vaccination before you travel.