How to Find the Best Travel Insurance if You Have Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

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by Amelia Murray, The Telegraph, June 28, 2017

Travellers who are currently suffering from illness or have been diagnosed with various conditions could struggle to get cover when they go on holiday, or end up paying through the nose for it.

Those with health problems, or even those who had issues in the past, are deemed more risky for an insurance company to cover and so are more likely to need treatment while abroad, which the insurer will need to foot the bill for.

This can drive up the cost of insurance and may mean that those looking for cover need to get it from a specialist provider.

Below we've listed what kind of factors impact price and the providers who offer the cheapest cover.

For example, holidaymakers in their 20s taking medication for high blood pressure will find it easier to get cheaper travel insurance than someone over the age of 80 with the same condition.

Regardless of how common or manageable you think your condition is, Stephanie Corbett, head of travel at Comparethemarket.com, the comparison site, said it is important to always be honest with the provider when buying travel insurance as "failure to do so may mean you're underinsured or your policy voided."

How old are you?

The older you are, the more risky you are to cover, meaning costs will rise.

For example, the cheapest cover for someone aged 20 with high blood pressure taking one type of medicine, travelling worldwide for a week, costs £14.90 from Now Travel, according to comparethemarket.com.

But once you get to 80 years old, you can expect to pay nine times as much with the same medical details.

The cheapest travel insurance in this instance comes from a specialist provider TravelInsurance4Medical, which offers cover for those with pre-existing conditions. However, it costs £139.94 for a week's trip. 

Where are you going?

You can expect to pay multiple times more for travel insurance if you're travelling outside of Europe because medical care is deemed more expensive.

If you need emergency treatment in America, Canada and the Caribbean, it can be costly. 

For example, last year a British woman Denise Griggi, 63, was trapped in San Diego, California, unable to pay medical fees of £200,000. Doctors said she was too ill to travel on a normal flight and needed an air ambulance to get her back to Britain. 

The cost varies but a quote for a 20-year-old woman disgnosed with breast cancer two years previously undertaking chemotherapy showed premiums from Your Travel Cover would be £12.25 when travelling in Europe for a week. This was almost four times higher for the same woman travelling outside Europe, costing £46.02 from insurer Travel Time.

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The cheapest insurance for a woman of 80 with the same condition jumped from £60.88 for a week's cover in Europe to £276.36 for worldwide.

What condition do you have?

Insurers will take into account a wide range of factors relating to your medical condition including any medicine you might be taking, hospital visits and whether or not you smoke. All of these details will impact how much you pay.

For example, we looked at two quotes for a 20 year old with asthma looking for travel insurance for a week long trip to Europe.

If they had not been hospitalised because of the condition, were taking up to two medications, were a non-smoker and were not on oxygen, the cheapest cover was £5.21 from Puffin Insurance.

However, the cheapest cover for someone the same age with more severe asthma who has had one hospital admission, who takes three to five medicines for their condition and smokes is £94.51 from Fit2Travel, a specialist provider.

Interestingly, in this case cover is cheaper for those who are middle-aged with the more severe asthma than the 20-year old.

TravelInsurance4Medical offers cover to travellers aged 40 and 60 years old with the more serious asthma condition that costs £28.19 and £35.09 respectively.

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Remember your EHIC card - but it should not replace travel insurance

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to treatment in state-run hospitals in EU countries, those in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.

Armed with this free card, you're entitled to medical care in the same way as a resident would be, either at a reduced cost or for free.

The EHIC covers the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care.

However, it should not be used instead of travel insurance. It's not valid on cruises and it won't cover private medical costs or if you need to be flown back to the UK.

Don't be fooled by the number of unofficial EHIC sites that charge for the card - you can apply for it here for free.

Which providers will insure me if I have a serious health condition?

Be cautious when using comparison sites if you have long-term or serious health issues.

A recent study by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority found that people with long-term illnesses are paying up to four times as much for insurance with some popular comparison sites because their illnesses are deemed "non-standard risk" and not included in searches.

The Association of British Insurers, an industry group representing insurance firms, advised those with long term and serious health conditions, such as cancer, to use a specialist provider.

The British Insurance Brokers Association, another industry group, is also worth trying as they work with a number of brokers.

Specialist insurers or brokers that focus on older people or those with pre-existing conditions may offer more comprehensive cover. Such providers include Staysure, Avanti and All Clear TravelSee here for a list of others.

But before you opt for the cheapest travel insurance, check what's covered.

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This article was written by Amelia Murray from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].