Travellers with pre-existing medical conditions can find it tricky to get travel insurance from mainstream providers at normal prices.
Telling the truth
When it comes to insurance, lying or omitting the truth is known as “non-disclosure”. Non-disclosure is a big issue when buying life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection insurance, but it applies to travel insurance too.
If your insurer finds out about non-disclosure, it may turn down a claim later on or invalidate your whole policy.
If you declare a pre-existing condition when applying for travel insurance the insurer will be able to confirm whether or not any claims relating to it can be covered. Some conditions may be covered as standard at no extra charge while some will require payment of an additional premium.
Others, including serious conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart attacks, won’t be covered at all by some insurers.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition it’s a good idea to contact certain specialist insurers or brokers directly for a quote. Then compare premiums, and other sections of the policy (such as baggage cover and cancellation) in order to find the best deal.
AllClear is a comparison site and insurer for travellers with pre-existing medical conditions. It’s been selling travel insurance since 2000 and compares quotes from range of different providers. You can input medical details, obtain quotes and buy insurance on the site.
Freedom Insurance has been going since 2002 and was one of the first companies in the UK to develop specialist travel insurance covering pre-existing medical conditions.
Avanti Insurance has an in-house medical screening process allowing it to assess your health on an individual basis and offer the most appropriate travel insurance for your circumstances.
World First Insurance covers thousands of medical conditions. The family run company was the first insurer in the UK to create a policy that covered travellers with HIV and it now insures thousands of other medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease and epilepsy.
Free Spirit covers pre-existing conditions with no upper age limit on its single trip and annual multi-trip policies. Policies also include “financial failure” which covers travellers if their airline provider goes bust.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
As well as comprehensive travel insurance, it’s a good idea to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are travelling in Europe.
The EHIC (which replaced the E111 form) entitles the holder to free or reduced cost state medical treatment in all EU countries. It’s basically a reciprocal agreement between the UK and other European countries so you’ll get the same treatment that the country offers its residents for free.
You can apply for the EHIC card for free, through the NHS: don't believe the many convincing copycat sites that charge you.
Please note that at the time of writing, the effect of Brexit on the EHIC card was yet to be determined, although the Government has warned a 'no deal' would make it invalid after March 29. We'll try and update this page when more information is available.
For more read: What does an EHIC really cover?
Healthcare outside the EU
The UK has a handful of reciprocal healthcare agreements with countries outside the EU, most notably Australia and New Zealand.
In Australia, you'll get free treatment in public hospitals, but you'll have to enrol in their Medicare program first.
However, you'll have to pay for ambulance travel as well as treatment at most doctors' surgeries (apart from those which 'bulk bill'). New Zealand's healthcare scheme is even more limited.
Given that neither country has an equivalent to the NHS, it's vital you get proper travel insurance before you go.
This article has been updated.
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