What medical conditions do you have to declare for travel insurance?

5 minute read

Couple walking along a beach

To buy and maintain a valid travel insurance policy, it’s important that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. This will ensure that providers can assess whether they’re able to meet your needs for medical care and provide adequate cover.

While some travel insurance policies may exclude cover for pre-existing medical conditions, choosing a specialist provider means there are still plenty of options available. In this article, we’ll outline what medical conditions you have to declare for travel insurance, why it’s vital you do so, and share some of the features you may want to look out for on a policy.


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

Each travel insurance provider will have its own definition of pre-existing medical conditions . However, typically, the category includes any illnesses or health conditions that the insured person has had symptoms for, been diagnosed with, or has received medical treatment/advice for within a certain period of time.

If you, or anyone else insured on your policy, has experienced the below, you may need to share further details with your insurance provider.

  • Had a condition diagnosed in the last two years
  • Taken any prescribed medication or required treatment within the last two years
  • Been a registered in or out-patient at a hospital, clinic or GP surgery in the last two years
  • Been placed on a waiting list (e.g., for an operation or treatment) that could cause you to cancel or curtail your trip
  • Been involved in a test that you’re awaiting results for
  • Been advised of a terminal illness
  • Had any illness that has caused a hospital stay of more than 24 hours or required surgery in the last five years

If you’re still in doubt about whether to declare a medical condition, talk to your provider. They’ll be able to help you find the right protection for your upcoming trip.


What medical conditions do you have to declare for travel insurance?

The types of physical and mental health conditions you should declare include, but are not limited to:

  • Heart-related conditions including heart disease, congenital heart disease, angina or if you've had heart surgery before
  • Respiratory conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and asthmatic conditions
  • Neurological disorders including conditions such as strokes, epilepsy or Parkinson's disease
  • Mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
  • Blood conditions such as haemophilia or any blood clotting disorders
  • Digestive system conditions, for example, Crohn’s disease, liver disease or gallstones
  • Musculoskeletal conditions including arthritis, rheumatism and osteoporosis
  • Cancer in all forms
  • Diabetes including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney disorders including chronic kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis)
  • Infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis
  • Pregnancy especially if it is a high-risk pregnancy or there are any related complications

In addition, if you've experienced any symptoms in the past six months or have been prescribed medication for any condition, you should also mention it when getting travel insurance.


Why do I need to declare all of my medical conditions on my travel insurance?

If you fail to declare all of your medical conditions when buying travel insurance, it could lead to:

  • Voiding your policy
  • Denied claims
  • Insufficient cover
  • Costly medical expenses

The price of your policy is based upon the information you provide at the quoting stage, taking into account the medical risks associated with your personal history. If a provider discovers these details to be incorrect later down the line, it may impact your claim entitlement and ongoing contract.


Do I need to update my policy if my medical conditions change?

Yes. If your medical condition changes after you purchase a travel insurance policy, or you receive a new diagnosis, you need to update your insurance provider.


What changes do I have to update on?

The type of changes to update your insurer on include:

  • The development of a new condition
  • A change to an existing medical condition
  • A change in medication or treatment

In some cases, updating your policy can impact the price. But if you don’t share the information, it can lead to a termination of your policy agreement and complications during any claims you need to make. It may also mean your cover is no longer suitable for your medical needs.


What If I have already updated my policy with a previous medical condition?

It may be the case that you are already insured for a range of pre-existing medical conditions that have been disclosed and accepted in writing by your provider. However, this will typically only cover you for claims associated with the specific conditions outlined in that agreement. Every medical condition has its own risks and requirements. As such, you should never treat existing cover as a ‘catch-all’ extension of your policy.


When should I update on any medical changes to my insurance policy?

Each provider will outline different deadlines for when you should update on any changes to your medical history. For example, Age Co Travel Insurance asks that customers share details at the earliest opportunity. Ideally this would be before you book, or pay for, your trip but it should always be done before you commence your journey.


Does an insurance provider have to approve my application if I have pre-existing medical conditions?

Not every insurer offers travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions. With most applications, the provider will consider the risks involved and they may ask for further information in order to make their decision. Following this they can:

  • Offer you cover based on their standard terms
  • Refuse to offer cover in relation to the pre-existing condition but provide a wider, standard policy for protection aside from this
  • Offer cover with specific terms, restrictions or a higher excess
  • Offer cover to include the pre-existing medical condition (that’s often charged at a higher price)
  • Simply refuse to insure you

If you are refused insurance based on a pre-existing medical condition, and finding a provider is becoming difficult, you can try talking to a charity that supports your condition or your community. It’s worth noting that travellers with serious medical conditions may find the BIBA Travel Medical Directory a useful tool for finding an travel insurance provider.

Couple cuddling on the beach

What additional cover options or features are available?

Knowing what to look for in travel insurance policies can help you pick the product best suited to your needs. Once you’ve found the right fit, you can often tailor your cover further by choosing from a range of optional extras or increasing the level of cover you buy (should it make more financial sense to do so).

Below we list some of the optional extras or features you may wish to explore.


Waiting list cover

Waiting list cover provides protection against the financial losses you may incur if you had to cancel or curtail your journey because a medical treatment or procedure you were awaiting was brought forward or delayed.


Non-travelling relatives cover

You may have a close relative with a medical condition who is not travelling with you. In some cases, if their state of health deteriorates greatly, you may want to cancel or curtail your journey. In this instance, subject to all the terms and conditions being met and relevant evidence being provided, this feature would allow you to claim against your policy to help shoulder the financial burden of any changes to your trip.


Travelling companion cancellation cover

This will cover those you’re travelling with, that are insured under another travel insurance provider, for cancellation and curtailment caused by you due to a pre-existing medical condition that has been agreed in writing.


Travel insurance for people who have had cancer

If you've had cancer and need travel insurance, it's better to give the insurance company all the details you can. Some providers might cover your medical expenses if you have a doctor's note saying you're fit to travel. Others may offer cover once you've been cancer-free for a certain period or cover non-cancer-related treatments.

You can find more information on getting travel insurance for those who have, or have had, cancer via Cancer Research.


How can I get travel insurance when awaiting a diagnosis?

Some travel insurance providers may be unable to cover you if you're awaiting a diagnosis. However, there are specialist providers who will be able to offer cover to those with undiagnosed conditions, although this is unlikely to cover claims related to the undiagnosed condition itself.

It's best to have a direct chat with insurers to explore your options and see what cover suits your needs.


Finding the best travel insurance if you have medical conditions

Finding the best travel insurance is all about knowing where to look and what to look for. Below, we share some of the criteria points you can use to narrow down your search and secure a policy that works for you and your medical needs.


Search for experienced, trusted Insurers

Look for insurance companies with experience in providing cover for those with pre-existing medical conditions. Talking to specialists can be a great way to explore your options and discover useful features too.


Compare the cover and the cost

When researching insurance providers and policies, compare the cover limits, exclusions and premiums with your specific medical conditions in mind. Look for features that could be useful for your personal circumstances but don’t overpay for those you’re less likely to make the most of.


Read reviews and testimonials

Before finalising your decision, read reviews and testimonials from other customers who have purchased insurance with pre-existing medical conditions. Their experiences can offer valuable perspectives on the quality of cover, the claims process, and customer support offered by different insurance providers.


Consider the excess

If a pre-existing medical condition increases the cost of your policy, you may want to look for a provider that rewards you for having a higher excess (the amount you pay when you make a claim) by lowering your overall premium.

With the right insurance policy in place, you can travel with cover that considers your specific medical needs in the event of an emergency. Declaring your pre-existing medical conditions ensures you keep your agreements intact and that you can benefit from the very best cover available.

For more expert travel advice, as well as tips on making the most of later life, try exploring the rest of Age Co’s Useful Articles. You can also learn more about Age Co Travel Insurance here.


Win £500 in the Age Co Prize Draw!

Simply let us know your Home and Car Insurance renewal dates or just share your email address to be in with a chance of winning. See the full terms and conditions via the form.