A holiday in the sun could be just the ticket for those suffering from health problems; however, finding the right travel insurance for your trip can be tricky if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Insurers consider you a bigger risk as you are more likely to require medical treatment while abroad, which could mean you need additional insurance cover.

Fear of being refused insurance or higher premiums leads many travellers to fail to declare health problems or even forego travel insurance altogether, which could be an expensive mistake when you consider the high cost of medical treatment in other countries. Bills can easily turn into tens of thousands of pounds, especially for anyone travelling to the US.

Here are the answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to declaring your medical history:

Will failing to declare my condition(s) invalidate my policy?

It is important to realise that failure to declare any pre-existing medical condition(s) won’t invalidate your entire travel insurance policy. You will still be covered for cancellations or delays, lost luggage or anything your travel insurance covers you for that doesn’t relate to your medical condition. If you suffer from an irregular heartbeat, fail to declare this and later become too ill to travel as a result of this condition, then claiming cancellation is not an option; however, if you fall and break your arm before your holiday, which is unrelated to your pre-existing condition, then you can still claim.

Won’t declaring conditions mean higher premiums?

You may end up paying more for cover for a pre-existing medical condition, as you will often need additional ‘top-up’ cover to enhance your travel insurance policy. The cost can be high, particularly if you need worldwide cover; however, compared to the cost of medical treatment in some countries, it is still relatively small.

Remember that this is an optional top-up and it is entirely up to you whether you wish to pay the additional premium.

Will I be refused cover?

Most insurers won’t refuse cover due to pre-existing medical conditions, provided you meet the eligibility criteria for the travel insurance policy itself. Typical eligibility criteria will state that you must be a UK resident, be registered with a UK GP, have been in the UK for the past six months, be healthy and fit to travel, and not travel against a medical practitioner’s advice.

There are some cases where the underwriter can decline medical cover, if the risk is too high. For example, a very recent and more serious diagnosis. This isn’t to say the customer cannot continue with the travel insurance, they can, but wouldn’t be covered for pre-existing medical conditions.

Ultimately, it is your decision whether to pay extra to cover a pre-existing medical condition and the insurance company or broker’s medical screening team will help to prompt you with questions to ensure you declare everything needed to get the best coverage for your condition.

You may find the premium is less than you expected and in some cases there may even be no additional cost; therefore, it is always worth speaking to a medical screening advisor to check whether you need additional coverage before travelling. It will be worth the peace of mind gained when you are more informed and know you are covered adequately.

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