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Travel Insurance with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Travel Insurance with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Going on holiday is one of life’s joys, whatever your age, even if a bit more planning becomes necessary in order to travel. Travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions may become one of those planning tasks, but it is certainly possible to find. The best advice is to always declare all medical conditions when buying holiday insurance, to ensure complete cover for any medical treatment that may be required while away.  

Why do I need travel insurance with medical conditions?

Travel insurance for the over 70s is considered a necessity as the potential risk of needing medical treatment increases with age. This risk further increases when you travel with a pre-existing medical condition. 

The risk of travelling without appropriate cover is that should you need medical treatment while away or transportation back to the UK for treatment, you will have to cover the costs – which are likely to be very expensive. Taking out travel insurance with cover for pre-existing conditions will mean the insurer pays the costs and you will only pay the excess. 

If you just have regular travel insurance, and have not declared any pre-existing medical conditions to an insurer, then an insurer is unlikely to pay for any medical treatment you might require overseas if it comes to light that you have hidden a medical condition to them. Again, this means that you will have to pay for treatment yourself.

What is considered a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance?

‘Pre-existing medical conditions’ is a broad term and can cover a range of medical diagnoses from allergies to serious heart conditions. The first part of the definition, ‘pre-existing’ is pretty straightforward: you already have a diagnosis before you booked the trip. 

The second half of the definition – ‘medical condition’ is likely to be interpreted differently by different travel insurers. The broad understanding is that it is any medical condition that you have had in the past or currently have, however minor. 

You may well not be covered should you need treatment whilst on holiday even for less serious medical conditions that would be covered by regular travel insurance such as mild asthma or allergies, or something that you’re not currently receiving treatment for. 

In addition to those above, insurers are likely to consider any of the following as a pre-existing medical condition:

  • any serious condition you have ever had or had treatment for e.g. cancer, cardiac operations, spinal surgery, breathing troubles etc.
  • any condition you are currently receiving treatment for or that you have seen your doctor about in the past 12 months
  • any condition that you are waiting for treatment for e.g. an operation or test results

If in doubt, and you’re not sure whether something is considered a pre-existing condition, it is best to assume that it is not covered.

How the medical screening process works

Medical screening normally takes the form of a set of questions asked by the insurer to enable you to declare any medical conditions that might effect your quote. If you buy insurance online it will be an online questionnaire that makes up you application for travel insurance. In some cases, depending on how serious the medical condition, the insurer will want to talk to you over the phone so that they have a firm understanding as to the extent of the medical condition you need travel insurance for.

Finding Travel Insurance For Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Finding travel insurance with cover for pre-existing medical conditions is harder and potentially more expensive than regular travel insurance, however there are insurers, some specialist, that will be able to quote you.

If the pre-existing condition is less serious, you may be able to have it covered by most regular insurers by paying extra after you’ve declared it. To search for insurers we recommend searching on a travel insurance comparison website, however it can also sometimes be worth going direct – as they may be able to quote cheaper. Here are some options for searching for insurance with medical conditions.

Finding Travel Insurance for Serious Conditions

For more serious medical conditions (e.g. some cancers or heart conditions), you may not be able to find cover from regular insurers, and may instead need to go through a specialist travel insurer. Some specialist insurers won’t be on price comparison websites, so you might need to search around a bit.

Other sites to try include Avanti, StaySure, Orbis, and MIA Online.

What does pre-existing medical condition travel insurance cover?

The aim of travel insurance that covers any pre-existing medical conditions is to add coverage for the conditions, on-top of everything that normal travel insurance is supposed to cover. This includes:



If the cancellation of a trip or aspect of a trip is due to a reason beyond your control, a good insurance policy should cover it. An insurer will breakdown the reasons that they believe would entitle you to a claim.


Medical Costs Abroad

This is where making sure you have declared all pre-existing conditions comes in. Most insurance policies will cover the cost of medical treatment as a result of injury or illness you sustain while abroad, however, travel insurance with cover for pre-existing conditions should also cover treatment costs with anything to do with your pre-existing condition.


Baggage & Personal Belongings

Often the cheapest travel insurance won't cover the loss or damage of luggage or personal belongings but for a small additional cost you can get these items covered. Some insurers might have a maximum sum that they will cover up to - so make sure to check what this is!


Personal Liability

This covers others and their property from any accidental damage that you cause. 


Additional Extras

There are some items that won't be covered by general, basic travel insurance that includes things like cruises, winter sports, and other high risk activities.

Is Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions More Expensive?

Short answer? Yes. Insurers increase their pricing for travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions because the risk of people needing to make use of the policy, and the potential cost if they do, is increased. While it may be expensive, the most important thing when it comes to finding travel insurance is that you are covered for the pre-existing conditions you have, so that you don’t risk the insurer rejecting a claim. 

travel insurance with medical conditions

You can find further tips for searching for travel insurance in general on in our guide to finding over 70s travel insurance.

Tips for Finding Cheap Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions


Use a Comparison Website

This won't always result in the finding the cheapest or most relevant coverage for you, and may be more difficult with more serious medical conditions, however, it will at least give you a quick way to see the offer from a number of insurers while only needing to type your details in once. Once you've tried a comparison website you can start to look into specialist travel insurance with medical conditions insurers.


Only Get Coverage for What You Need

This seems like an obvious one but there are plenty of extras that you might not need. For example, if the additional cost of getting luggage and personal belonging coverage and the excess you have to pay is more expensive than the value of your belongings, then you don't need the coverage. Or you won't need cruise cover if you're not going near a boat!


Single Trip Vs Multi Trip

Relevant to all types of travel insurance, but especially relevant to getting cheap travel insurance with medical conditions, is that it may be cheaper to buy travel insurance for each individual trip you go on instead of buying insurance that covers you over multiple trips over a 12month period.


Ring Up Insurers

There is never any harm in calling up a travel insurance company to discuss a quote, especially when it comes to getting covered for pre-existing conditions. Not only might you be able to haggle but you can also be assured that all your medical conditions are covered under a quote.

Advice for Travelling with a Medical Condition

Travelling with a medical condition can be complicated but this should never get in the way of you enjoying your holiday to the full extent. Use these tips to make sure your holiday goes as smooth as possible.


Get travel insurance with medical condition coverage

Of course we were going to say this but its worth repeating that with any medical insurance you get, make sure it covers the full extent of any medical conditions you are aware of that apply to you.


Check if you need a "fitness to fly" form

Some airlines won't let you fly without completing a fitness to fly form (or similar), which may include needing sign off from a doctor. 


Make sure you have enough medication

A few weeks before you travel make sure you have enough medication to cover you on your trip, and then some spares. Sometimes, depending on the medication, you will need a sign off from a doctor to be able to get more than you usually do. 


Consider renting a wheelchair

It may be easier to book a wheelchair for you trip in the UK and travel with it. You should also look into getting accessibility help to get through the airports that you are flying in and out from. 


Keep medical information on you

Keep information on your medical condition on you so that if you do run into any trouble, someone will be able to help quickly and effectively. You should also include information on you GP / Doctors' number and an emergency contact.


Plan ahead

For example, look into the medical system of the country you're going to and look up what your medical condition is called in the local language.

FAQs on Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions

Do all providers offer travel insurance to cover pre-existing medical conditions?

No. Some travel insurance providers will offer coverage for some medical conditions at an additional cost, but some will not offer it at all and you may have to look for a specialist travel insurer who covers your medical condition.

Is COVID a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance?

Yes it can be. If you've had COVID (Coronavirus), especially if you've received medical treatment for it in the past year, many insurers might treat it as pre-existing condition. With travel insurance with medical conditions it is better to be safe than sorry, so declaring anything, including COVID, they may be considered a pre-existing medical condition is advised.

What happens if you don't declare medical conditions for travel insurance?

Then it will not be covered by the insurance agency and you won't be able to make a claim for any costs you incur abroad as a result of the condition. This is why it is always best practice to declare everything you think might be considered.

Will I get approved for travel insurance with a medical condition?

This depends on the medical condition you wish to be covered. For minor conditions it is likely that you will easily be able to find coverage online, however, for major conditions you may have to get a bit more involved but there still are lots of companies that specialise in covering serious medical conditions.

Can I get medical travel insurance while waiting for a diagnosis?

Yes but you will have to declare the condition that you are getting diagnosed for to the insurer. 

Is pregnancy a pre-existing medical condition?

No, not by most travel insurers. Travel insurance that covers medical costs should cover the costs of any complications related to pregnancy or birth, but it is unlikely to cover the cost of a routine birth. 

What if I develop a medical condition after I've taken out travel insurance?

If it appears before you travel, you should amend your policy to include the medical condition. Travel insurance companies call this 'change in health' or 'ongoing duty of disclosure'.

Can I get cruise travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions?

Just like with generic travel insurance policies you can get cruise travel insurance with pre-existing condition coverage, and, just like with other insurances, you will need to declare the full extent of the condition when applying. It is likely to be more expensive, and your choices of insurers might be more limited, but it is still possible.

What happens if my medical condtions change after I get travel insurance?

As with notifying an insurer if a new medial condition appears after buying insurance, you should also notify your insurer as soon as anything changes with a pre-existing condition that you are already insured for.

Do I need medical insurance to travel to Europe?

Yes. Europe is no different to the rest of the world when it comes to needing medical travel insurance - however, if your EHIC / GHIC card is still valid (in date) then you can also take this that may help deal with some of the excess you may have to pay if you receive medical treatment abroad. An EHICGHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance with medical condition cover.