Finding Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

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					Finding Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
By Jean Andrews

What would happen if you had a month's trip to America booked - departing
in six months time - and were unexpectedly diagnosed with lung cancer?
Suppose you had to cancel your holiday and go in for immediate surgery.
If you had been smart and taken out travel insurance - effective from the
date you booked the trip - you should be able to recover costs associated
with the cancellation of the trip (after any excess payable). However, if
you had waited until the day before departure to purchase travel
insurance your cancellation costs would not be covered. Some people try
to squeeze extra mileage out of their annual travel insurance policy by
making the start date of the policy the date of the first departure. This
is a risky thing to do because there will be no cover for cancellation
costs if anything should go wrong prior to the departure date.

Just suppose you'd been having tests and investigations within the last
year for lung-related problems but failed to declare this fact when
purchasing travel insurance. During your scuba diving holiday in
California, you start coughing up blood all over the dive boat. You have
to seek emergency medical care and a diagnosis of lung cancer is
confirmed. Would you be covered for the high emergency medical costs or
curtailment of your trip? Probably not.

Anyone with a serious pre-existing medical condition will already know
that obtaining travel insurance can be tricky, but not impossible. Some
travel insurance companies exclude all claims related to pre-existing
medical conditions. Some insurers will cover for pre-existing conditions
without any additional premium. Other travel insurance companies may have
a medical screening system, usually carried out over the telephone or
online. A series of questions is asked to assess the risk and determine
whether insurance can be issued. If approved, there may be a choice to
either pay an additional premium to cover the pre-existing condition - or
elect not to pay the extra premium and exclude claims relating to the

Common conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes
and asthma can all cause problems when trying to obtain travel insurance
- especially if combined with other conditions, so never neglect to
disclose something as common as high cholesterol thinking that it is
insignificant! All questions must be answered fully and honestly.

As with any type of insurance, there are always exclusions. Some insurers
will refuse to insure those with pre-existing conditions involving
cancer, serious kidney problems (requiring dialysis), serious heart
conditions, strokes and HIV, AIDS, or any AIDS-related problems. They
also do not cover for suicide or suicide attempts - in case you're
thinking of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge!

Most travel insurance policies will carry similar wording and it is wise
to read and understand the terms and conditions. For instance, there
might be clauses stating that you should never travel against the advice
of a medical practitioner, or to obtain medical treatment abroad (unless
already disclosed and pre-approved). The same goes for those on waiting
lists for surgery or procedures, or awaiting the results of medical
tests. There are specialist travel insurers who will often cover terminal

During the medical screening, you may be asked specific questions, such
as: have you been a hospital inpatient or had any medical condition that
requires ongoing medication, or referral to a specialist within the past
twelve months? Have you ever suffered from, been diagnosed with, or
treated for cancer (or other malignant disease), a heart or lung
condition (excluding well-controlled asthma), high blood pressure or any
psychiatric disorder?

Any claims you make which relate directly or indirectly to the types of
conditions listed above will normally be excluded - unless you declared
the condition and it was accepted by the underwriter, subject to any
conditions or additional premiums imposed. Whether or not a particular
travel insurance company is willing to offer insurance will depend upon
different factors, depending on the underwriter, so it is wise to shop
around and obtain quotes.

The biggest mistake is taking the risk of failing to disclose a condition
to obtain the insurance. You might get away with it if there are no
problems and you have no reason to make a claim. However, if the worst
should happen, the insurance company has ways to find out - and they will
find out - about any pre-existing conditions! You could find yourself
with huge medical bills and your insurance claims denied. With the high
cost of medical treatment in some countries (the USA especially) it
simply is not worth it. Always be completely honest so that you can have
peace of mind and enjoy your holiday without worrying about every twinge!

Jean Andrews is a freelance writer living in the UK. She regularly
contributes articles for TIA Ltd who offer travel insurance at great
prices online.

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