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Are Food Allergies a Pre-Existing Condition?

Jan. 16, 2020
5 mins
Woman listens to music while waiting for her flight at airport

Here’s a terrifying thought: you are in the U.S. on a day trip, suffer an allergic reaction after having lunch and require hospitalization. You have travel insurance for just such an emergency, but will it cover you? If it's a pre-existing condition that you didn't tell your insurer about, chances are it will not.

Now that brief stay in a U.S. hospital will potentially cost you a few thousand bucks.

When seeking the most comprehensive and affordable travel insurance policy before embarking on a vacation or cross-border shopping, it’s essential to understand how a pre-existing condition such as a food allergy can invalidate your coverage.

What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is any medical condition you know you have before buying the policy and travelling outside of Canada. That can be a serious ailment like cancer, but it can also be food and other allergies, asthma, diabetes, and so on.

It varies among insurers precisely what comprises a pre-existing condition and what does not. Therefore, you must be honest and transparent about your health during the application process and shop around to find the policy you want.

An insurer may decide not to offer you a policy due to a pre-existing condition, impose an exclusion period that limits the benefits it will provide, or charge a higher premium. Still, if you do not disclose that you have a pre-existing condition, it will nullify the policy altogether.

Also, know if you get a diagnosis for a new illness or condition, or there’s a change in treatment or medication for an existing one before you travel, an insurer may consider it unstable within its look-back or stability period – the amount of time before your travel policy's effective date the insurer will review if you file a claim. That is why it is crucial to be honest with the insurer during the application process.

You Can Still Travel Safely With Food Allergies

Even with food and other allergies, you have options available to purchase emergency medical insurance to ensure you have protection. You may pay a higher premium for the policy, but for a few dollars, you can get the coverage you need. Inarguably, it’s better to have coverage than risk going without it.

For Ontarians, this is doubly true since that province no longer provides out-of-country protection through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

To ensure you get a travel insurance policy that will adequately protect you while out-of-country, it’s important to know what your options are when it comes to selecting coverage.

It’s also worthwhile to discuss what your out-of-country or out-of-province plans are with your insurer to avoid the possibility they deny your claim in the event you file one.

Tips for Buying Travel Insurance

Not to be confused with trip protection (a worthwhile add-on to a travel insurance policy), here are a few tips to guide you when weighing your options:

  • Make sure your provincial health card is valid, and your personal information is correct (name, birthdate, your current home address, etc.)
  • Know the state of your overall health and disclose that information when making a travel insurance application, including any pre-existing medical conditions you may have
  • Disclose the details of your upcoming trip to the insurer to make sure you have the right type of coverage
  • Understand all of the policy’s terms and conditions (read the fine print)
  • Know what your rights are and how to appeal the insurer’s decision denying a claim if you file one

Take the time to explore your options for travel insurance through the quoting tool. It’s free to use and will provide you with travel insurance quotes from Canada’s top insurance companies in real-time.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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