When Does Travel Insurance Cover Existing Medical Conditions?

It’s vitally important to protect yourself with trip insurance, especially if you or a family member is living with an existing medical condition. Why? A travel insurance plan can save your travel investment if you must cancel your trip for covered health reasons caused by existing medical conditions, and emergency medical coverage can reimburse you for the costs of getting covered medical treatment domestically or overseas.


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We know this gets complicated. We’re here to help. First and foremost, you must insure your full nonrefundable trip costs. If you insure the full cost of your trip within 14 days of paying your first trip deposit, and you’re medically able to travel when you do so, you should be covered for most existing medical conditions.

Not all travel insurance plans cover existing medical conditions. Certain travel insurance products from Allianz Global Assistance do — but specific requirements apply. Below are three hypothetical examples to help you understand how to make sure your existing medical condition is covered.

For travel insurance to cover your pre-existing condition, you must be medically able to travel on the day you purchase your policy.

After suffering debilitating pain in your left knee for three years, you’ve finally scheduled a total knee replacement. You get the procedure done and find that your recovery goes more swiftly than expected. After two weeks of physical therapy, your doctor says she’s amazed at your progress. Heartened to hear this, you book a cycling trip through the French Alps for the fall, six months from now, and you purchase travel insurance to protect it. If you suffer knee problems and you have to cancel the trip, are you covered?

With an existing medical condition, the safest course of action is to get your physician’s certification that you’re fine to travel before you book your trip. Allianz Global Assistance’s travel insurance requires you to be medically able to travel on the day you buy your policy. It doesn’t matter if you expect to be able to travel in the future, or if your doctor says you should be able to travel by the time you’re scheduled to leave.

Let’s say you book that cycling trip and your travel insurance 12 weeks after your surgery, when you’re feeling pretty good and you can take long walks around the neighborhood. Don’t assume you’re medically able to travel. If you end up making a travel insurance claim related to your knee, Allianz Global Assistance may review your medical records and talk to your physician to determine your condition at the time you bought insurance.

One more important thing to understand: the “medically able to travel” only applies to the person named in the insurance policy. If your mother has uncontrolled diabetes, for instance, you need existing medical condition coverage in case you need to cancel your trip because she’s in the hospital. But your mother does not need to be medically able to travel in order for you to be covered.

For an existing medical condition to be covered, you must insure your full nonrefundable trip costs.

You just booked the trip of a lifetime, a two-week European river cruise with your sister. You hold out on buying your plane ticket, however, because you’re hoping airfares to Paris will drop. A few weeks later, you grab that cheap ticket — whew! — but you forget to update your policy by adding the airfare cost to your coverage. Then, a week before departure, your sister (who has long suffered from hypertension) has a major change in her medication and her doctor won’t let her travel. Will travel insurance cover your trip cancellation?

Your travel companion’s condition would have been considered a covered reason for trip cancellation if you had insured your full trip costs. Because you didn’t, your travel insurance plan would not cover cancellations caused by existing medical conditions. If you had to cancel for another covered reason — because the covered cruise operator went out of business, for instance — your travel insurance would cover the trip cancellation.

Travel insurance only covers existing medical conditions if you buy your plan within 14 days (depending on your plan) of making your first trip payment or deposit.

You and your husband are both nature lovers, and to celebrate your 25th anniversary you’re planning a two-week stay at a luxury eco-resort in Costa Rica. You buy travel insurance to protect your trip investment, but not until three weeks after the trip purchase. Because you waited, existing medical conditions aren’t covered. No problem, you think. You’re both fit and healthy. Except your husband has had some urinary problems over the past few months, so you make him go to the urologist before the trip. Bad news: he has prostate cancer. It’s treatable, but you’ll have to cancel the trip. Is this trip cancellation covered?

For Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance plans, an existing medical condition is defined as an illness or injury that exhibited symptoms or was treated any time 120 days prior to purchasing your plan. In this instance, your trip cancellation due to an existing medical condition would have been covered if you had bought travel insurance within 14 days of paying your first trip deposit.

Three more things you need to know about travel insurance and existing medical conditions

  • Certain existing medical conditions are excluded from Allianz Global Assistance’s travel insurance coverage, such as mental and nervous health conditions, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • There’s a cap on trip costs when you’re buying travel insurance with existing medical condition coverage. For the Classic Plan, for instance, the total cost of your trip must be no more than $50,000 per person.
  • You must be a U.S. resident to buy travel insurance with existing medical condition coverage.

Safe travels!

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This article was provided by Allianz Travel Insurance.