Best Travel Insurance Cover for Medical Conditions 2017

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 are our top 11 travel policies for medical conditions:

To come up with this list we compared research on travel insurance with medical conditions from several sources.

First, we looked at the insurer's rating on an independent financial reviewer's site that rates 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.

We also looked at Which?'s rating of each provider, which takes into account customer service, value for money, the clarity of the policy and their competence in dealing with enquiries. We awarded extra points if any of the insurers had won awards.

Finally, we consulted a Which? report comparing the prices of a selection of travel insurance companies for four medical conditions (High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Breast Cancer, and Heart Disease). The companies scored points depending on how many of these conditions they would cover.

The companies included in this report had at least £2 million European or £5 million worldwide medical cover, at least £1,500 baggage or personal belongings cover, £3,000 cancellation and curtailment cover and at least £1 million personal liability cover, as well as a 24-hour emergency helpline.

The travel insurance policies that scored the highest were the ones that performed strongly in all of these categories.

Blue Bear did not have a Defaqto Star rating; however, they made the list because they ranked well in the Which? report. Others, such as Saga and Staysure, were rated highly on Which? and Fairer Finance, but were not included in the Which? report. However, these companies should still provide cover for pre-existing medical conditions.

In this article:

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

We've written our own detailed reviews of many of the travel insurance companies appearing in the Top 10, as well as other insurers who offer cover for medical conditions, including:

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. Remember, though, that the cheapest insurance isn't necessarily the best! All the providers on our list should offer a good level of cover for pre-existing medical conditions. With cheaper insurance, you may not get the cover you require.

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 group names 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, as a medical condition means higher costs. It’s frustrating because a traveller being honest 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 may 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 the 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 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, but you will 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 medication from a condition you suffered from 10 years ago, you'll probably still have to declare it.

  • 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.

I had a medical condition three years ago. Do I still need to declare it?

It depends. Different pre-existing medical conditions travel insurers will treat various conditions differently. For instance, the insurers AllClear requires you to declare if you have ever had a heart or circulatory problem. However, Avanti will only require you to declare it if you have had the condition in the last five years. This is true for other conditions, too - if you suffered from a kidney six years ago, you would not have to declare it for Avanti, but you would for AllClear.

Sometimes psychiatric and psychological conditions are treated differently; FreeSpirit only requires you to declare them if you have received either treatment or a diagnosis within the last two years.

Remember that insurers usually include follow-up appointments and ongoing medication in their definition of having a condition; so if, for example, you recovered from a transplant operation 10 years ago but are still taking medication, you probably need to declare the transplant.

The right insurer for you depends on your personal circumstances. There are a large number of conditions aside from the few mentioned above that need to be declared if you are purchasing travel insurance, and different insurers may have different definitions of 'having a condition'. Make sure you read the policy documents thoroughly before making a decision and, if you can't find the information you're looking for, call the insurer and ask.

We've negotiated several discounts with FreeSpirit for travel insurance that covers a specific pre-existing medical condition, including:

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).

Some banks also offer travel insurance either separate from your current account or included in a bundle deal. Some may offer cover for pre-existing medical conditions. For instance, First Direct, which ranks top of our list for the best travel insurance provided by banks, says it may be able to provide cover for some pre-existing conditions if you declare them before you purchase.

Much the same as with dedicated travel insurance companies, you must declare any pre-existing medical conditions before you take out the policy. If you don't, you may not be able to claim successfully. It's best to read the policy documents of the travel insurance provided by your bank to see if you are covered for pre-existing conditions.

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. Honesty is the best policy to make sure you have the cover you need. It 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:

This article was independently written by Bought By Many. We were not paid to write it, but we may receive commission for sales that result from you clicking on a link to one of our partners.

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