Insider Secrets to Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions [GUIDE]

If you or someone you are traveling with someone who has a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll definitely want to get travel insurance for pre-existing conditions. This is especially true if it’s a condition that –even occasionally– requires professional medical attention.

Jump Ahead

blue outline of arrow pointing right Travel Insurance Pre-Existing Condition Definition

Compared to health insurance, you’ll find that travel insurance defines pre-existing conditions differently. With travel insurance, a pre-existing condition is any ongoing condition or change in your medical history occurring in the last 60 to 180 days before your policy’s effective date. 

This period is called the “lookback period”. During this time, a provider reviews your health history to establish any connection between your claim and something ongoing.

If you’ve recently experienced any of the following, it may not be covered if it leads to a claim:

  • A doctor recommends you take a medical test, examination, or medical treatment.
  • Your physician prescribed a new medication for you.
  • You experienced a change in dosage or frequency of your prescription.

Another common question arises: Does travel insurance consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition? Typically, pregnancy and childbirth are excluded from travel insurance. We have a whole article discussing whether pregnancy is covered by travel insurance in more detail if you’d like to learn more.

Even if you are affected by one of these areas above, you could still get coverage against a current condition derailing your trip via a waiver. 

blue outline of arrow pointing right What’s NOT considered a pre-existing condition under travel insurance?

Fortunately, since providers usually review your medical records for the past three to six months, medical conditions predating this period are unlikely to be classified as pre-existing. This means you might not need to purchase a pre-existing condition waiver with your travel insurance if that’s the case for you. 

For example, if you received a cancer diagnosis five years ago and have not needed recent treatment or experienced any recent changes in your medical documentation related to it, there is a high likelihood that any new events linked to the previous cancer would still be covered.

But what if you currently take medication? Ongoing medical conditions stabilized via prescription medication without any adjustments wouldn’t likely be considered excluded from coverage. For example, if you have been managing diabetes for years through insulin injections.

We often get asked about non-traveling family members who experience medical maladies. Their medical issues wouldn’t be considered a pre-existing condition. If you have a family member who is not traveling with you and is experiencing an ailment, leading to the cancellation of your trip to care for them, coverage could still apply.

Pro Tip: Your travel insurance would typically cover any new illnesses, injuries, or accidents that occur to you or your insured traveling companion after the policy becomes effective.

table comparing the meaning of pre-existing conditions or those that aren't pre-existing conditions

blue outline of arrow pointing right What value does a travel insurance pre-existing condition waiver offer?

Firstly, a pre-existing condition waiver essentially removes the exclusion of coverage normally associated with an ongoing condition under travel insurance. Without a pre-existing condition waiver, typically only new medical events leading to trip cancellation or interruption would be covered.

For those with ongoing conditions, having coverage in the event they aren’t medically able to travel when their departure nears brings much-needed peace of mind,” says Terry Boynton, co-founder and president of Yonder Travel Insurance. 

This is especially true if your health insurance here in the States doesn’t provide coverage internationally. Mature travelers might feel more at ease purchasing a pre-existing condition waiver so just in case anything happens medically, they’ll be covered. We’ll get to real-life examples of how this coverage comes in handy later.

green button that reads quote and compare travel insurance

blue outline of arrow pointing right Travel Insurance Pre-Existing Condition Waiver Requirements

Some policies automatically include pre-existing condition waivers, but it’s important to check the requirements to ensure eligibility for coverage.

These are some of the common areas that must be met to quality:

  • Travelers must purchase the policy within a definite time period (usually within 14 days of your initial deposit).
  • Travelers must insure all nonrefundable trip costs under your policy.
  • Travelers must be physically able to travel at the time of purchasing the policy.

If you made your initial trip deposit longer than 14 days ago, you might not be out of luck. Some policies allow you to qualify for the waiver if you purchase the insurance prior to or within 24 hours of your final trip payment.

blue outline of arrow pointing right What Coverage Pre-Existing Condition Waivers Apply To

If you suffer from a pre-existing condition, several areas of your trip could be at risk of becoming sidetracked. Your health could cause you to have to cancel your trip because you’re too unwell to travel as deemed by a physician Alternatively, your medical condition may worsen during your trip. This could lead to the inability to continue or cause you to require immediate medical attention.

hospital bed in a hospital room

Here are some examples of how your policy could activate certain benefits if it includes a pre-existing condition waiver. Without this waiver and your condition being ongoing before purchasing travel insurance, coverage may not be implemented.

Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption: Let’s say a traveler had a pre-existing heart condition but purchased travel insurance with a pre-existing condition waiver. If they had to cancel their trip due to a heart-related issue, the waiver could ensure coverage for their cancellation costs.

Medical Expense/Medical Evacuation: For example, if a traveler with a pre-existing condition such as heart disease required medical treatment during their trip, a pre-existing condition waiver could ensure that the travel insurance policy covers their medical expenses.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Recap of Why You May or May Not Need a Pre-Existing Condition Waiver

In short, if recent health changes concern you regarding your trip, consider purchasing a pre-existing condition waiver with your travel insurance.

Here are some common reasons some of our customer purchase policies with this benefit:

  • Your doctor gave you the go-ahead to travel, but you have concerns your surgery recovery could backslide.
  • Although your physician has cleared you for travel despite a recent cancer diagnosis, you’re concerned that your medical condition might deteriorate just before the trip.
  • After visiting the doctor and undergoing tests before buying travel insurance, you seek assurance that medical attention during your trip would still be covered for peace of mind.

blue outline of arrow pointing right How to Purchase Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions

Luckily, it’s simple to get coverage for ongoing medical conditions if you already qualify. By using Yonder’s quote tool, you can select a filter called “Pre-Existing Condition Waiver”. The policy results will then only show plans that offer travel insurance that includes pre-existing condition waivers.

pre existing condition filter on quote results page of Yonder Travel Insurance

Should you need further assistance or have questions about pre-existing condition coverage, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly humans. Need coverage for other things? Check out our Travel Insurance FAQ page for answers to the most common travel insurance questions.

As a seasoned professional with over five years of experience in the travel insurance industry, Meagan has honed her expertise in marketing and operations working for Yonder Travel Insurance. Throughout her career, she's shown dedication assisting customers at every stage of their travel insurance journey, from the initial quote process to navigating the claims process. Her expert understanding of travel insurance equips her to provide unbiased and valuable insights, which help travelers find the best coverage and maximize its benefits.

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