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 protection plan – and one of the most misunderstood.
It’s sought-after because many travel protection 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
All travel insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions
Actually, some travel protection plans don’t even have medical or trip cancellation coverage, much less coverage for pre-existing conditions. For instance, many of the travel protection plans offered through credit cards lack medical coverage (see Why You Shouldn't Rely on Credit Card Travel Insurance).
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.
For Generali, the look-back period is 180 days.* That means any medical condition you were treated for in that 180-day period will be considered pre-existing, and won’t be covered if it flares up while you’re traveling. This does not apply to a condition that is treated or controlled solely through the taking of prescription drugs or medicine and remains treated or controlled without any adjustment or change in the required prescription throughout the 180-day period.
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 Global Assistance’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.
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 protection package.
As mentioned earlier, travel protection 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 Global Assistance’s Premium Plan, which has a wide range of upgraded and added coverages in addition to coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Also read: How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
Recurrence of a pre-existing condition is a covered reason
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 ending your trip early.
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.
Also read: 10 Tips for Traveling With Medication
Does your travel insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
The best way to understand how pre-existing conditions are covered is to read your travel protection plan documents – you can read all the fine print for our Premium plan, which is able to cover your pre-existing medical condition. Otherwise, you can read a summary about how pre-existing conditions are covered.
The good news is that even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can get travel protection for your trip – and for the millions of travelers who fall into that category, that’s some very good news.
*The pre-existing condition look-back period can vary, dependent upon your state of residence.