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Best Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions June 2024

  • First off, not all travel insurance plans will cover pre-existing medical conditions as they represent a higher risk of payout for travel insurance providers. It’s important to find the right type of plan.
  • If you have pre-existing conditions, you can opt for a travel insurance plan that is specialized to cover pre-existing conditions or see if you qualify for a waiver from the insurance provider.
  • A pre-existing condition exclusion waiver is a clause in the insurance policy that stipulates how you can qualify to have your pre-existing conditions covered under the policy. Rules vary by provider.
  • Most plans look at the previous two to six months before the policy to see if you had any pre-existing conditions and rely on an honor policy when booking. You may also have to fill out a medical questionnaire.
  • In our experience, using a comparison tool is the best way to find travel insurance for pre-existing conditions. You can filter for plans that cover pre-existing conditions and see options from multiple providers side-by-side.

If you are planning on getting travel insurance for a country that requires it, pre-existing conditions may not be covered under your plan.

Many people get travel insurance for the medical protection that policies provide which can often include coverage for emergency medical and dental expenses, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.

If you have a pre-existing condition, travel insurance can still be an option for you, but it’s important to take special care to buy insurance that won’t deny coverage based on your condition.

In this guide we will explain:

  • How to safely buy travel insurance with pre-existing conditions to ensure you get coverage
  • What counts as a pre-existing medical condition
  • How to get a pre-existing condition travel insurance waiver
  • Our top recommendations for the best travel insurance for pre-existing conditions

Read on for this, and more!

Our top picks for travel insurance

Advertiser Disclosure
Cheapest With Limited Coverage

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection

GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
4.32
Preferred Plan
ExactCare Lite
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$10,000 / $100,000
Offers Full Coverage for US Trips

Trawick International

GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
4.14
Preferred Plan
Safe Travels Armor
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$100,000 / $1,000,000
Best Overall - Affordable and Complete

Trawick International

GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
4.14
Preferred Plan
Safe Travels Defend
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$50,000 / $350,000

Does travel insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Not all travel insurance will cover pre-existing conditions as people with pre-diagnosed health conditions are more likely to become ill on a trip. Many travel insurance companies exclude acute onset of pre-existing conditions from their coverage to avoid having to pay claims on these illnesses. That said, if you have pre-existing conditions, travel insurance can still be an option for you.

There are certain travel insurance plans for pre-existing conditions that can cover you if you have a flare-up while traveling. Likewise, many plans offer you the option to obtain a pre-existing conditions waiver, which can override the exclusion and allow your pre-existing conditions to be covered by the insurance plan.

To ensure you can be covered by one of these plans, it’s important to understand what travel insurance providers consider as a pre-existing condition, how far back in your medical history they look, and how to qualify for a pre-existing conditions waiver.

But first, here are our recommendations for the best travel insurance for pre-existing conditions.

Our picks of the best travel insurance for pre-existing conditions

Advertiser Disclosure

Cheapest With Limited Coverage

Full Policy Details

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection

4.32
GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
Preferred Plan
ExactCare Lite
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$10,000 / $100,000
Why We Like It

PROS

  • Free coverage for two children per adult
  • Offers hurricane and weather coverage
  • Cancelation & interruption coverage
  • Includes emergency medical evacuation coverage
  • Lower average cost for coverage
  • Free look up to 15 days after purchase

CONS

  • Lower medical coverage limits
  • Secondary medical coverage

Offers Full Coverage for US Trips

Trawick International

4.14
GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
Preferred Plan
Safe Travels Armor
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$100,000 / $1,000,000
Why We Like It

PROS

  • Includes cancel for medical reasons
  • $1,000,000 worth of Medevac coverage
  • Extensive AD&D coverage

CONS

  • Includes a medical deductible

Best Overall - Affordable and Complete

Trawick International

4.14
GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
Preferred Plan
Safe Travels Defend
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$50,000 / $350,000
Why We Like It

PROS

  • $10,000 worth of coverage for 24 Hour AD&D
  • Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions available
  • Employment layoff coverage

CONS

  • Lower emergency medical coverage

Best for "A Bit of Everything"

Full Policy Details

Tin Leg

4.6
GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
Preferred Plan
Gold
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$500,000 / $500,000
Why We Like It

PROS

  • Excellent primary coverage for medical expenses
  • High limit for emergency evacuation coverage
  • Optional cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage available
  • Comes with coverage for hurricanes and inclement weather
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions is available if purchased within 14 days of the trip deposit

CONS

  • Baggage delay coverage requires a 24-hour waiting period
  • Low coverage limits for baggage and personal effects
Passport and Plane Ticket

What is considered a pre-existing condition for travel insurance?

Most travel insurance plans define pre-existing conditions as an illness, disease, or other condition that has appeared during the?policy’s exclusion window?which typically falls 60-180 days before the date that your travel insurance policy takes effect.

You may have a pre-existing condition if you or your travel companions meet any one of the following criteria:

  1. You showed symptoms that would make a typical person seek care or treatment
  2. You underwent a test, examination, or medical treatment (or were advised to)
  3. You took or were given a prescription for medicine

Sometimes, certain conditions will be covered by the policy if the prescription you take is used to control an underlying condition, such as high cholesterol, and has not required any other intervention within the last several months.

It’s important to note that the language for defining pre-existing conditions is intentionally broad. You don’t have to have a diagnosis for a pre-existing condition to count against you — showing symptoms during the two to six months (this varies by plan) before buying your policy is enough to count as a pre-existing condition.

How do travel insurance companies check for pre-existing conditions?

Travel insurance companies don’t check for pre-existing conditions when you purchase a plan. Instead, they research your medical history to look for pre-existing conditions after you file a travel insurance claim. In some cases, you may be required to submit a letter from your doctor confirming you didn’t have a pre-existing condition. In other cases, you may be asked to fill out a medical history questionnaire when buying a travel insurance policy.

This means you mostly use the honor system when you have a pre-existing condition and buy travel insurance. However, if you receive emergency medical care while on a trip, you might not be reimbursed if you fail to secure coverage for pre-existing medical conditions when buying a plan.

For this reason, it’s important to opt for travel insurance that covers pre-existing conditions or find a plan that offers a pre-existing condition waiver.

What is a look-back period?

A look-back period is a stretch of time your travel insurance company can “look back” at your medical records to determine whether you had a pre-existing medical condition.

This period usually extends back 60 to 180 days before the date a trip cancellation policy begins, or 12 to 36 months for policies that include coverage for emergency medical care.

Look-back periods apply when you don’t have pre-existing conditions coverage listed in your insurance policy.

What is a pre-existing condition waiver?

A pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver is not usually a document you have to fill out, sign, and return. It’s typically a clause in a travel insurance policy that allows coverage for pre-existing medical conditions under certain circumstances. If you meet the requirements of the pre-existing condition exclusion waiver, the travel insurance company will cover the cost of medical treatment during your trip regardless of the pre-existing conditions you have.

Most pre-existing condition waivers are only offered when you book your travel insurance policy within a short period (typically 14-21 days) after making the first payment for your trip. In other words, you need to buy the travel insurance policy within 2 to 3 weeks after making the first booking for your trip.

Not all companies offer pre-existing condition exclusion waivers, therefore it’s best to check before booking.

How to qualify for a pre-existing condition waiver

To qualify for pre-existing conditions coverage, you must meet the criteria stipulated in the pre-existing conditions clause of the travel insurance policy.

Each provider has different specifications, but in general eligibility for a pre-existing condition waiver includes the following:

1

You must be medically fit to travel

To qualify for travel insurance coverage, you need to feel well enough and be medically able to travel. If you have a chronic medical condition that is pre-existing, you may want to get a letter from your doctor that says you are medically able to go on the trip.

See More See Less
2

You must buy your travel insurance within the specified window

Most companies require you to buy coverage for pre-existing conditions within a few weeks of making a trip deposit regardless of when your policy’s effective date begins. The most common timing for this requirement is within 14 days, but you’ll want to check with the companies you’re considering so you know for sure.

See More See Less
3

You must buy a plan that insures the entire cost of your trip

Make sure you have insurance for the entire trip cost, including the pre-paid cost of airfare, hotels or resorts, a cruise you booked, and other travel arrangements.

See More See Less

What pre-existing conditions are not covered by a waiver?

While travel insurance companies may cover most health-related conditions with a waiver, there are some exceptions.

For example, the waiver may not include coverage for the following pre-existing conditions:

To know which conditions may or may not be covered by your insurance, read over the policy wording and the terms and conditions ahead of time.

Common travel insurance claims involving pre-existing conditions

There are quite a few scenarios where having insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions can be useful.

Here’s a rundown of the most common travel insurance claims that apply, plus the documentation you’ll need when you file a claim.

Emergency medical care

Having insurance coverage for medical conditions you already have is crucial if you’re planning to travel and you may need medical care.

Example: You’re relaxing on the beach at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, or eating at a restaurant in Italy and you begin having chest pains. You’re rushed to the emergency room, and you have medical bills as a result.

Documentation required:

Trip cancellation coverage

Having pre-existing conditions insurance coverage is important if you’re worried a medical condition will prevent you from traveling.

Example: You recently underwent surgery, but you go ahead and book a cruise around the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas because you’re feeling better. As the trip date approaches, however, your attending physician suggests additional medical treatment and orders you to stay home.

Documentation required:

Trip interruption coverage

Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions can be useful when a trip gets cut short because of an unexpected outbreak or flare-up, or due to the medical treatment that results.

Example: You are enjoying a guided tour of the Taj Mahal on your trip to India, but you suddenly feel light-headed and have chest pains that won’t go away. A doctor’s medical advice suggests cutting your trip short and returning home to seek medical treatment.

Documentation required:

Passport and Plane Ticket

FAQ: Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions

Is there travel insurance for pre-existing conditions?

Many travel insurance companies cover medical conditions that exist prior too your trip, including the acute onset of pre-existing conditions. However, to ensure you are adequately covered, it’s important to compare providers and plans to ensure you buy travel insurance that covers pre-existing conditions or offers a pre-existing condition waiver.

What is a pre-existing condition waiver for travel insurance?

With most travel insurance, pre-existing medical conditions are not covered unless you qualify for a waiver. A pre-existing condition waiver is essentially an exception to the exclusions in your travel insurance plan. If you qualify for the waiver, it means your insurance company will cover medical conditions you already had when purchasing your policy. In essence, it nullifies the exclusion of certain pre-existing conditions from your coverage.

Can travel insurance deny you for pre-existing conditions?

If you have a pre-existing condition, travel insurance companies can deny claims and refuse to insure any medical expense that resulted from your pre-existing condition. This is also commonly referred to as “acute onset of pre-existing conditions”.

The best way around this is looking for travel insurance with a pre-existing medical conditions waiver, or opting for a specialized pre-existing medical condition travel insurance plan.

What can I do if my pre-existing condition is not covered?

If your conditions are not covered by the travel insurance policy, double check the fine print to see if the company offers a waiver. Often times you may qualify without realizing it.

Ultimately, if you face emergency medical expenses during a trip that resulted from a pre-existing condition and your policy doesn’t insure the expense, you’ll be responsible for paying those bills out of your own pocket.

Do I need travel insurance if I have a pre-existing condition?

If you have pre-existing conditions travel insurance is a must. While your options for plans may be reduced, having insurance that includes pre-existing conditions and resulting medical treatment you can depend on is of the utmost importance to ensure you are safe while traveling. Apart from this, not having travel insurance means you’ll be liable for repaying any medical expenses you incur during travel.

Why do most insurers exclude pre-existing conditions?

Many travel insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions to avoid paying for foreseen medical care.

Since covering pre-existing conditions can become costly for these companies, excluding these conditions helps them keep premiums lower across the board.

That said, you can still get travel insurance if you have a medical condition you already know about and you’re worried an unexpected medical expense during your trip might wreck your finances.

Start the process by comparing travel insurance providers and filtering based on their offerings, including whether they have a pre-existing conditions waiver. From there, be diligent about buying your policy shortly after making your first trip deposit to ensure you qualify for the waiver.

About the Author

Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson Finance Expert

Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who covers topics like insurance, investing, credit and family finance. As a leading voice in the travel and loyalty space, Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries over the last decade.

The author has also written extensively on the power of household budgeting, and she even co-authored a book on the topic. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love was originally published in 2017, and it teaches families how to use zero-sum budgeting to reach their financial goals. She is also the co-owner and founder of the family finance and travel website, ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson’s 10+ years of writing have focused on helping families make important financial decisions at each stage of their lives. The author also applies the financial principles she teaches to her own life, and she is currently on track to retire in her late 40’s with her partner. She currently lives in Central Indiana with her husband and children, and she is a regular contributor for Bankrate, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report Travel and many other notable publications.

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