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Get the Right Travel Insurance When You Have a Pre-Existing Medical Condition

June 7, 2016
4 mins
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It’s not something you really want to think about when you’re planning your trip – medical travel insurance. There’s nothing romantic or fun when it comes to picking the plan that best suits your needs. However, it’s a must to purchase coverage in case of any emergency. Paying out of pocket for something even as simple as a bump on the head can set you back thousands of dollars.

Add a pre-existing medical condition into the mix and it can get more complicated. A pre-existing condition is defined as an illness or injury that you already know you have – whether it be a broken leg in a cast or a congenital defect – and it could require you to seek medical attention at your destination. Some policies even consider pregnancy under this category.

Whether or not you can be covered depends on a number of factors. The two biggest points to consider are the amount of time since your diagnosis and whether or not the condition is stable. The definition of stable depends on the policy but it usually means that there haven’t been any changes in treatment or medication and the condition has not worsened.

It’s not impossible to find coverage for pre-existing conditions, however, you may have to go through testing and receive prescription medication before being considered “stable enough” to travel. There are also some medical issues that will not be covered by any insurance even if they are relatively stable.

Here are some tips to help you find the right travel insurance that meets your needs:

Stay on Top of Your Medical Conditions:

The first step is to be completely clear and knowledgeable about your own medical history. Ensure you remember the dates of any operations or procedures you have had in the past. Jot down any tests or other treatments you’ve gone through and specialists you have seen. Keep a list of your medications or any daily routine that’s required to keep your condition under control. Familiarize yourself with medical terminology related to your illness or condition. The more you know, the better off you will be – both when choosing your insurance policy and while you’re away.

Compare Travel Insurance Policies:

Whether you already have travel insurance through work or are considering purchasing it for your upcoming vacation, your first step is to compare policies. You can check out our user-friendly tool here on RATESDOTCA to find the policy that best meets your needs.

Talk to Your Travel Insurer:

Once you have your options narrowed down, call into to connect to the travel insurers featured. Let them know the details of your trip, including your condition. Some medical conditions may be covered for free, and may not require an assessment or declaration form. Other conditions may be covered for an additional fee, while some require you to go back to your doctor to be re-assessed.

Medical conditions or illnesses that may be covered under a regular travel medical insurance policy include high cholesterol, asthma, osteoporosis, cataracts, congenital blindness or deafness and diabetes – provided it was diagnosed over a year ago. However, cardiac problems – especially those that require a pacemaker, epilepsy, lung disease, other types of diabetes and any condition that has resulted in surgery in the past two to three years may need a medical assessment.

Medical conditions or illnesses that may not be covered at all are terminal illnesses, chronic lung or cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, certain types of cancer, chronic pain or mental illness. You may also not be able to get coverage if you are waiting for surgery or require oxygen.

Consider Postponing Your Trip until Your Condition Improves:

If your condition isn’t covered but is likely to improve over the next six months to one year, consider delaying travel until you meet the requirements for coverage under one or more insurance policies. You may also choose to travel within Canada until then. However, it is advisable to purchase insurance within your home country if you plan to leave your province of residence.

Always Tell the Truth!

It’s important you disclose your full medical history prior to purchasing any travel insurance package. Purchasing insurance without revealing your medical condition could cause more trouble than it’s worth. Any medical claims made against the policy will be denied and it will be considered invalid. If you have partial coverage for any other health issues, not disclosing your full condition can put eligibility for what is covered at risk.

Remember: a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home. Provided you plan ahead, you can still experience the joys of travel – whether it be to a world class city, a beach in the Caribbean, or a hike through a rainforest. Take your time and compare rates, and you can make the most of your time away from home.

Related Read: Looking to Get More Bang out of Your Travel Dollar?


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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