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The topic of travel insurance has never been hotter, thanks to irregular flight operations, ever-changing entry requirements and a possibility of catching the virus that shall not be named.
Although trip delay and baggage loss insurance are good to have, purchasing a medical insurance policy before hitting the road can be the difference between an expensive vacation and a really expensive vacation. Those with pre-existing conditions may be wondering if they can still get travel insurance. Luckily, the answer is yes.
Here’s where to look for and how to get travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions.
» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance
What is considered a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition is an illness, injury or medical concern that has included exams, treatments or a change in prescribed medication within 60 to 180 days of purchasing a travel insurance policy. The condition doesn’t have to be diagnosed formally to be considered a pre-existing condition.
For example, say you go on a bike tour of Amsterdam and suffer a mild heart attack. If a doctor had diagnosed hypertension (high blood pressure) a few weeks before your trip, this is considered a pre-existing condition.
How to qualify for a pre-existing medical conditions waiver
So, what does a pre-existing medical condition mean for travel insurance? The good news is that having a pre-existing condition doesn’t preclude you from traveling or being eligible for medical coverage. Many comprehensive plans cover pre-existing conditions and can help you recoup your money if you require medical treatment during your trip or have to cancel a trip altogether because of a medical issue.
To avoid being on the hook for medical bills abroad or losing a deposit before you even pack your bags, look for a policy that includes a pre-existing condition waiver. Read the fine print on the insurance provider’s website; there shouldn’t be an age limit on most plans, and the premium shouldn’t cost more than it would for people without pre-existing medical conditions.
As long as you’re medically fit to travel, you can qualify for a pre-existing condition waiver if you meet the following criteria and apply within the eligible timeframe:
A pre-existing condition must be stable.
You must buy coverage at the time of your first trip deposit or shortly thereafter (time frame varies by company).
Amount of coverage must be equal to all pre-paid, non-refundable costs.
For example, if you put down a 50% deposit on a safari in South Africa, you must buy travel insurance within the time specified by the insurance provider to be eligible for a pre-existing medical conditions waiver. If you wait too long to purchase coverage, you'll have missed the coverage purchasing window and the waiver won’t be applicable to your trip.
We recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy as soon as you make the first deposit on a trip.
If you don’t qualify for a waiver, then a travel insurance company has a right to look back at the traveler’s medical records for the last 60 to 180 days (varies by plan), which is called a look-back period. This is done to determine whether you’re filing a claim for an incident related to a pre-existing condition, which then determines whether it’s going to be covered or not.
The pre-existing medical conditions waiver may also provide coverage in the case of a non-traveling family member having a medical problem mid-trip. This varies by plan.
Where to find coverage for pre-existing conditions
With so many providers to choose from, it’s hard to make the right choice. So, which travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions is best?
Instead of getting quotes from every travel insurance company under the sun, we recommend InsureMyTrip, which is a free comparison site that allows you to get quotes from multiple providers at once.
To start a quote, you must:
Select your travel destination.
Provide travel dates.
Disclose your citizenship and the state where you live.
Select the number of travelers and their ages.
The website will ask you additional questions, such as:
Whether you’re taking a flight, going on a cruise or renting a vacation home.
The total cost of nonrefundable expenses, such as flight costs, hotel bookings and tours.
The date you made the first payment toward the trip and viewed your coverage options.
You can sort and filter your results in multiple ways. Compare the plans offered and make a selection based on price, insurance provider reviews or the included coverage.
Keep in mind that it’s not possible to find annual travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. Comprehensive plans that include coverage for pre-existing conditions can only be purchased for every trip separately.
If you're considering buying travel insurance for pre-existing conditions
Optional travel insurance certainly can protect you from the unexpected. To obtain coverage for a pre-existing condition, make sure to follow all the rules of the policy you’re about to purchase. Buy a policy within the specified time frame and declare all nonrefundable expenses accurately.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card