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Top Tips for Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions

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Those traveling with a serious medical condition may find travel insurance prices to be noticeably high. Below, we share a few tips for finding a travel insurance plan that fits in your budget and provides the cover you need. For example, it may be more economical to buy a Single Trip policy, rather than an Annual, Multi-Trip policy—counter to popular wisdom that Annual policies are a better deal than Single Trip policies.

While it's true that those who are healthy and travel more than twice a year can usually save with an Annual policy rather than multiple Single Trip policies, the same does not necessarily hold for those dealing with a significant health problem. Read more about this and other top tips for buying travel insurance if you have any medical conditions.

1. Compare Prices

When looking for an affordable travel insurance plan with cover for pre-existing conditions, it's even more important to compare prices across a wide array of insurance providers. Depending on your medical history, travel insurance may be a significant cost and finding a good deal might save you hundreds of pounds. You can start comparing prices by using our trusted partner, Compare Cover.

Prices can vary widely from provider to provider, or even from day to day, depending on an insurance company's risk appetite and experience for a condition. A provider with good prices for one condition may not be as reasonably priced for another. As you can see in the following chart of Single Trip cover to Canada, the cheapest plans are a fraction of the cost of more expensive cover, illustrating the importance of shopping around.

Chart comparing cheapest and most expensive travel insurance policies for pre-existing medical conditions: breast cancer, lung cancer and stent

Travel insurance companies price policies based on their previous experience. For example, if an insurer has recently paid large claims related to, say, cancer or already has a number of cancer patients on their books, their appetite for those with cancer may be lower—and prices for those with cancer may be higher as a result.

2. Consider a Single Trip Policy

Single Trip plans can make more financial sense for someone with a complicated health situation, due to the way insurance providers determine prices. Travel insurance rates are based on perceived risk, taking into account both the expected amount of a potential claim and the likelihood of a claim. For those with a serious medical history, this risk is easier to calculate for a Single Trip with a fixed date as opposed to an Annual policy, because your health condition could deteriorate or change significantly over the course of a year-long Annual policy.

When the insurer has to anticipate the potential cost of medical claims a whole year in advance (to cover the one-year term of an Annual policy), prices can rise significantly on Annual policies. As a result, you'll tend to find that for Single Trip policies, more types of conditions can be covered up to a higher level of severity, whereas annual multi-trip policies usually cover a more limited degree of severity.

We've gathered prices for some common health conditions that can prove costly for travel insurance, to illustrate potential costs and the differences between Single and Annual premiums. The Annual policies cost around 80% more than the Single Trip policies for our sample 65-year old. Keep in mind Annual policies will be even more expensive relative to Single Trip policies for older travellers or those who are more ill.

Single Trip vs. Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Pre-Existing Medical ConditionSingle TripAnnual, Multi-trip
Breast Cancer (spread to a lymph node)£95£168
Lung Cancer (3-5 years ago)£261£489
Coronary Stent£335£594
Chart comparing single and annual travel insurance policies for pre-existing medical conditions: breast cancer, lung cancer and stent

It is understandable that an insurer has to charge quite a bit more to cover the potential risk of an Annual policy, given the uncertainty and potential risk. If you're finding that the cost of an Annual policy seems excessively high or outside your budget, be sure to check the cost of a Single Trip policy. You may find it will fit into your budget a bit easier and enable you to travel with the protection you need.

3. Disclose All Conditions

If you're traveling with any pre-existing medical conditions, it's critical to disclose all of those conditions and any associated medicines you take. Leaving out a condition, even if it seems minor to you, could invalidate your insurance leaving you without protection when you really need it.

Even if you consider a condition to be minor and not worth disclosing, make sure you do disclose it. That way, you'll have a financial buffer for any more significant conditions like cancer, anxiety or a heart condition.

Disclosing minor pre-existing conditions may not impact the price of your cover much, if at all. In fact, many insurers have a list of pre-existing conditions they'll include for no extra charge—you still need to disclose them, however, to be covered.

4. Medical Repatriation

Medical repatriation—bringing you back to the UK when you're seriously ill or injured and can't come back without assistance, on a medically-equipped plane with a medical escort if necessary—should be covered as standard under most travel insurance plans now. Be sure to check the details in the Policy Wording before you buy, however, to be sure. Medical repatriation can cost ten of thousands of pounds, or more, and is therefore a critical component of medical travel insurance.

5. Extra Features

By paying a bit more, you can get access to a number of extra features designed to enhance medical travel insurance cover. For example, Free Spirit travel insurance provides for extended aftercare in the UK if you've had emergency surgery and stayed in hospital abroad for at least 5 days. Or you can get access any time of the day or night to a doctor in the UK for advice through goodtogoinsurance.com.

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Comments and Questions

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.