Finding travel insurance with pre-existing conditions coverage may actually be less of a headache than it sounds. Thanks to relatively flexible terms and the short-term nature of most travel insurance, it may actually be easier to find affordable travel insurance with pre-existing conditions coverage than regular health insurance in a home country. There are several factors that should be considered when choosing this type of travel health insurance, including the exact definition of a pre-existing condition, the limitations of the plan, and the timing of booking.
Travel insurance plans often have a more flexible definition of a pre-existing condition than regular health care plans. Usually, any condition that has not recently changed or is controlled with medication is not considered a pre-existing condition. This means that people with lifelong issues, such as asthma or chronic injuries, may not need to look for special travel insurance with pre-existing conditions coverage if they can prove that their condition has been under control for some time.
In most cases, a severe illness or injury in the last few years that may recur, a change in diagnosis or medication, or symptoms of an impending medical condition may require a person to find a specialized insurance package. Some programs will even consider a person to have a pre-existing condition if they have had any treatment, tests, or medical consultations recently, even if no ill health currently exists. With some plans, time limitations may be much shorter, meaning that a person who has not had a medical problem within the last six months may be considered free from pre-existing conditions.
Many insurance companies offer travel insurance plans that offer either limited or unlimited coverage. Limited coverage may not include any help with medical expenses that result from a pre-existing condition, such as a flare-up of a recent injury. In some cases, pre-existing condition exclusions are waived for emergency situations, such as medical evacuations or return of remains should death occur. Unlimited plans usually include coverage for pre-existing conditions, but should be carefully examined for any possible exclusions.
One loophole that many insurance policies build into pre-existing coverage exclusions is a waiver that can be enforced by purchasing insurance within a few days or weeks of booking a trip. To meet requirements for this type of waiver, the insurance package must be purchased around the same time that a deposit is placed on the trip, or the first payment is made for travel. Different companies have different time limits for a pre-existing conditions waiver, so be certain to check on specific time limits.
The downside to unlimited travel insurance with pre-existing conditions coverage is that it tends to be more expensive, since the risk of illness or injury may be higher. On the other hand, traveler's insurance is often inexpensive overall, since it usually covers only a few days or weeks of travel. Many travel experts recommend purchasing traveler's medical coverage even for those that have pre-existing conditions, in order to avoid the potentially tragic possibility of being stuck without coverage in a foreign area.