Getting Travel Insurance for Medical Conditions

David Woodfield By David Woodfield

We've used independent research to rank the best travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. We also explain the key things to bear in mind when looking for travel insurance that covers a medical condition.

Here's our top 10 travel policies for medical conditions:

  1. Saga - Annual Travel Insurance (Note: only available for Over 50s)
  2. Age UK - Annual Travel Insurance (Note: only available for Over 65s)
  3. M&S Bank - Annual Travel Insurance
  4. Holidaysafe - Premier
  5. Explorer - ES Annual Platinum
  6. Avanti - Deluxe
  7. TopDog - Platinum
  8. Flexicover - Platinum
  9. Insure And Go - Black
  10. Staysure - Comprehensive

To come up with this Top 10 we compared research on travel insurance with medical conditions from 3 sources.

First, we looked at an independent finacial reviewer's rating of how comprehensive the policies are. Then we looked at Fairer Finance's comparison of different travel insurance providers' performance on Customer Happiness, Trust, Transparency, and dealing with claims and complaints. Finally, we consulted a Which? report comparing the prices of a selection of travel insurance companies for 4 medical conditions (High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Breast Cancer, and Heart Disease).

The travel insurance policies which scored the highest were the ones which performed strongly in all three of these reviews.

Reviews of Travel Insurance companies who cover pre-existing medical conditions

We've also written our own detailed reviews of many of the travel insurance companies appearing in the Top 10, including Saga, Flexicover, TopDog, and Staysure.

Will the insurance companies listed give me the cheapest price for travel insurance?

It's important to bear in mind that these will not necessarily be the cheapest option if you have a medical condition. For example: Which? only included policies with a minimum of £2m medical cover, £1,500 of cover for baggage and personal items, £1m of liability cover, and some provision for cancellation.

This meant that Which? excluded some well-known companies who specialize in travel insurance for pre existing medical conditions like Staysure, as they do not include Cancellation and Curtailment cover as standard. This meant that we ranked Staysure lower in our Top 10.

At Bought By Many we believe all people deserve fairer insurance. That's why we've created groups for people with specific needs to join so we can negotiate better rates.

Our members have access to exclusive discounts on a range of travel policies for medical conditions including High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Breast Cancer, and Heart Disease. Click on the groups to learn more and join them for free.

Is honesty the best policy when it comes to getting travel insurance with medical conditions?

The insurance industry is tough on those with medical conditions, particularly so in Travel Insurance where a medical condition means higher costs. It’s frustrating because a traveller displaying deep honesty and declaring every medical detail about themselves is ‘rewarded’ by the insurer with a hefty premium hike to cover potential medical costs.

This creates a temptation to keep medical information secret and not declare conditions when buying. After all, no declaration means no price hike. However, if a claim arises and the insurer discovers the condition when investigating the claim, they will deny payment on the grounds that the traveller was not fully honest when they bought. Unfair as it is, there is little argument against this because the insurer specifies the rules and the traveller agrees to those rules when they buy the insurance policy.

It follows then that understanding these rules is essential and in fact, it can help you get travel insurance for your medical conditions at a good price.

Do I need to declare my medical conditions for travel insurance?

The key is in understanding the rules that each insurer uses to decide if you have to declare a medical condition at all (before they even consider the pricing for that condition). So let’s take a look at what these rules are:

  • "Have you ever…" - insurers specify a number of conditions that you must declare, regardless of when you have had them in your life. These are typically the severe physiological conditions such as heart problems, cancer and breathing difficulties, but they can also including psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. So what? The important thing is that each insurer has a slightly different list of conditions, so you might find you don’t need to declare something for one insurer, which you did for another
  • "Have you recently…" - there are many conditions that do not fall into the ‘have you ever…’ category above – such as Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Epilepsy. For these conditions, insurers will ask whether you have had any symptoms, treatment or medical consultations ‘recently’. So what? The important thing to consider here is ‘recently’ means within the last 1 year for some insurers and within the last 2, 3 or even 5 years for others. So if your condition last troubled you 3 years ago, you could find an insurer where you wouldn’t even have to declare it. It is worth noting too that many insurers will count taking any medication as part of a condition, so if you're still on medications from a condition of 10 years ago, this probably means you'll have to declare it anyway.
  • Terminal - sadly many insurers will not accept a terminal prognosis. This is an area we think needs to improve and we are working on it.

To help, we have created a table below (correct as at June 2014) to summarise how a number of leading medical condition travel insurers will treat different conditions. “Ever” means the insurer will ask you to declare the condition if you have ever had it, a “3” means you have to declare anything within the last 3 years, a “5” within the last 5 years and so on

.

ConditionConfused.comFreeSpiritAllClearStaysureAvanti
Heart or CirculatoryEverEverEverEver5
CancerEver5Ever25
Kidney2Ever221
LiverEverEver221
Respiratory or LungEverEverEver25
StrokeEverEverEverEver5
Diabetes22Ever25
Cerebral / CNS*2Ever221
Anxiety / DepressionEver2Ever25
Other psychiatricEver2221

*Central Nervous System

How to use this information:

The ‘right’ insurer depends on your personal circumstances and what need cover for. In addition, there are a large number of conditions not listed above that would need to be declared. However the table above might help you decide which insurers focus more on your recent health rather than your total medical history. That might help see where you can get quotes from. For example:

  • A traveller who has survived cancer 3 years ago and has had no treatment or consultation for it since may seek a quotation from Staysure since they only require you to declare cancer within the last 2 years
  • A traveller who has completely recovered from kidney problems 18 months ago might get a quote from Avanti as this would be above their 1-year timeframe to declare the condition
  • A traveller who used to have a lung or breathing problem 3 years ago might try Staysure

Note that many insurers would include follow-up appointments or ongoing medication in their definition of having a condition - so if you recovered from a transplant operation 10 years ago but are still taking medication, you would still need to declare the transplant.

Are there any other options?

If you feel like all the forms you have to fill to get quotes from the different providers look the same, you have a point. They all use a Healix based scoring system for medical conditions, which means both the questions and the way the quotes are calculated are very similar (although of course the premiums do vary). One of the few exceptions to this rule is World First, who use a non-Helix system, and therefore may produce different results (although, if you have been refused cover before, there is no guarantee you will be accepted through World First).

The final word on getting travel insurance with medical conditions

Always err on the side of caution and contact the insurer to be certain of the rules they are laying out and how they apply to your own situation. Going back to the start of the article: honesty is the best policy to make sure you have the cover you need, it just pays to understand the rules.

More reviews on getting travel insurance with specific medical conditions

This review is only one of a number of different articles we've written on this topic. We have also taken a more detailed look at the issues around getting travel insurance for a range of specific conditions including:

Please tweet us if there are other conditions you would like us to look at in detail.

What next?

Bought by Many gathers together people with similar insurance needs. We then use the group's collective bargaining power to negotiate better insurance for those individuals than they would otherwise get on their own.

This includes groups for travellers with specific medical conditions - have a look at our complete list of travel insurance groups here, to see if we have a solution for your medical condition (see a few examples below). It's free to join these groups and joining gives members access to exclusive insurance offers and information such as best buy tables.

Additionally, have a look at our list of 'related articles' below for further advice on getting the best travel insurance for your needs.

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  • by David Woodfield