Just because you have a pre-existing condition does not mean you can’t get travel insurance. But it does mean you have to know the details of your coverage and especially be fully aware of your own medical status, know what medications you take and why you’re taking certain tests, and what’s in your medical record.
Most travel insurance plans have options that allow coverage for people with certain pre-existing conditions, so long as those conditions are stable and controlled, and have been so for a specified time, e.g., 60 days or 90, or 365. But you have to understand how the policies define the words Stable and Controlled. They are very specific, and they don’t rely on how you might find those words defined in a dictionary or by your own doctor. You have read and understand those definitions.
Most policies will also ask you to complete a medical questionnaire and to check off any conditions you may have or which are being monitored. Take these questionnaires seriously. If you’re unsure about your medication, why you take it, or why you’re being referred for a CT scan, ask your doctor to explain it to you. Tell your doctor you need to know what’s in your medical record, or even to help you with the application, even if you have to pay him or her to help you. Non-disclosure or misrepresentation on a medical questionnaire is one of the leading causes of claim denials.
An accurately completed questionnaire can also be your friend. If you list all your conditions, medications, tests, etc. and your insurer agrees to cover you—knowing all of the facts about your health status—you have an iron clad guarantee of cover. It works both ways.
Also, if you have a medical condition that is occasionally unstable but your doctor feels is not an imminent threat to you, or can be controlled by certain means while you travel, your insurer can often tailor a plan that covers you for everything but that condition. Just make sure you understand the terms of coverage. In such a case you don’t have to forego travel altogether, and you certainly don’t have to throw all caution to the wind and travel without insurance—consequences be damned. That’s the worst of all possible choices.
If you take any kind of medication or if you regularly undergo testing for any chronic condition, tell you insurer about it and let them help you find a plan that fits your unique needs. In the great majority of cases, they can do it.
There are plenty of good, safe, reasonably priced options for people with pre-existing conditions. After all: how many travellers over 50 are in perfect health, yet they are Canada’s most avid frequent travellers.
But you need to understand the limitations and possibilities of travel insurance and the best way to do that is to deal with an experienced travel insurance advisor.