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Get the right travel insurance even with a pre-existing medical condition

May 12, 2023
4 mins
A young couple hike along a stream

With summer around the corner, Canadians are finally getting back to – or even surpassing – pre-pandemic levels of travel. However, in the excitement of planning for a fun, family vacation, don’t overlook one essential item: travel insurance.

There’s nothing fun or exciting about picking the best travel insurance policy, but it offers peace of mind while on a family vacation. 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 have — for example, a fractured arm in a cast or a congenital defect — or a condition that could possibly require medical attention at your destination. Some policies even consider pregnancy to be part of this category.

Whether you are covered by travel insurance or not depends on several factors. The two biggest points to consider are the amount of time since your diagnosis and how stable the condition is. 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 undergo testing and receive prescription medication before being considered “stable enough” to travel. Some medical issues 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 for your needs:

Stay on top of your medical history

The first step is to stay on top of and be aware of your medical history.

Remember the dates of any operations or procedures you’ve had in the past. Jot down any tests or other treatments you’ve gone through and specialists you have seen. Keep a list of medications 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’ll be — both when choosing your insurance policy and while you’re away.

Find out if your medical condition is covered

Let your insurance provider know the details of your trip, like your destination, the duration of the trip, and any pre-existing medical conditions. 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 or require a doctor’s visit.

Medical conditions or illnesses that may be covered under a standard travel medical insurance policy include high cholesterol, asthma, osteoporosis, cataracts, congenital blindness or deafness and diabetes — provided the diagnosis was over a year ago. However, cardiac problems (especially those requiring a pacemaker), epilepsy, lung disease, certain 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 are terminal illnesses, chronic lung or cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, certain types of cancer, chronic pain, or mental illness. You may also not get coverage if you’re waiting for surgery or require oxygen.

Consider postponing the 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 your travel plans 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 also advisable to purchase insurance even when traveling to another province within Canada.

Be sure to disclose your medical history

To ensure you get full coverage, you must disclose your medical history before purchasing a travel insurance package. Purchasing insurance without revealing your medical condition might cause more trouble than it’s worth.  Your insurance provider can deny any medical claims made against the policy as this information was never disclosed, and hence, 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.

Compare travel insurance policies

Whether you already have travel insurance through work, have travel insurance through your credit card, or are considering purchasing a one-time policy for your upcoming vacation, the first step is to compare travel insurance quotes from multiple providers to find the policy that best meets your needs at an affordable price.

Having a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t mean you should be stuck at home. With proper planning, you can still experience the joys of travel — whether it's to a world-class city, a beach in the Caribbean, or a tropical rainforest.

But before you leave, take your time and compare rates to ensure you make the most of your time away from home without sacrificing peace of mind.

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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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