Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Travel Insurance: 5 Things Most People Get Wrong
Travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions is one of the most sought-after components of a travel insurance plan – and one of the most misunderstood.
It’s sought-after because many travel insurance buyers have something in their medical history that might flare up or recur before or during their trip, forcing them to cancel or interrupt their travels.
It’s misunderstood because the devil’s in the details – in this case, the provider’s definition of a pre-existing condition and the requirements they place on getting coverage for medical conditions that a person had prior to traveling.
Let’s clear up some of the myths surrounding travel insurance with coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and help you make the most of this valuable benefit.
Things people get wrong about pre-existing conditions
1. All travel insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions
Actually, some travel insurance plans don’t even have emergency medical or trip cancellation coverage, much less coverage for pre-existing conditions.
For instance, many of the travel insurance plans offered through credit cards lack emergency medical coverage. Also read: Why You Shouldn't Rely on Credit Card Travel Insurance
2. A condition that occurred at any time in the past can be defined as pre-existing
Most plans that cover pre-existing medical conditions have a “look-back” period. That means the plan looks back at your medical history for a time period that usually ranges from three to six months, but could be as long as 18 months.
If your condition appeared or was treated during that time, it’s considered pre-existing. So, if a disease had been in remission for years and suddenly reappears just before your trip, most plans would consider it to be pre-existing.
3. If a travel-insurance plan covers pre-existing conditions, I can buy it any time before my trip and be covered
Almost all plans that cover pre-existing conditions require you to buy your travel insurance within a specific window after putting down your initial trip deposit or making your final trip payment.
Generali’s timeframe is prior to or within 24 hours of your final trip payment. Other rules for securing coverage for pre-existing conditions are: you are medically able to travel at the time the plan is purchased, and all prepaid trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions have been insured.
The reasons for the window are more about inducing you to buy travel insurance than anything having to do with the coverage itself, or with your medical history. Think of it as a carrot – though there’s not really a stick to be found.
4. Coverage for pre-existing conditions costs extra
Not so. In most cases, coverage for pre-existing conditions comes at no extra cost, as part of the overall travel insurance package.
As mentioned earlier, travel insurance companies often put restrictions around qualifying for pre-existing coverage, or make it available only if a plan is purchased within a specified window, but it usually doesn’t cost extra.
With that said, coverage for pre-existing conditions is most often found on top-of-the-line plans, like Generali’s Premium plan, which has a wide range of upgraded and added coverages in addition to pre-existing condition coverage.
Also read: How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
5. Recurrence of a pre-existing condition is a covered reason for trip cancellation
It can be – but it depends on the condition and the situation. You may have a pre-existing condition that recurs when you’re traveling, and while it’s severe enough to require medical treatment, it’s not severe enough to warrant you canceling your trip.
On the other hand, there may be many circumstances where a flare-up would be enough to cause you to cancel your trip.
This is a long way of saying that the fact that a medical condition is pre-existing doesn’t automatically mean it’s severe, or severe enough to cause a traveler to cancel their trip. It’s completely dependent on the severity of the recurrence.
Does your travel insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
The best way to understand how pre-existing conditions are covered is to read your travel insurance Description of Coverage/Policy – which you can do here for the Premium plan. Otherwise, you can read how Generali covers pre-existing conditions.
The good news is that even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can help protect your trip – and for the millions of travelers who fall into that category, that’s some very good news.