Travel insurance is complicated. What to recognize about pre-existing conditions

You’re planning a vacation and I bring up travel insurance. Should you purchase it? Absolutely! In addition to offering a plethora of coverages, Travel insurance ensures a smooth, worry-free experience that protects your investment. However, what happens if you have a pre-existing condition – will insurance kick in and cover you if it flares up before or during your trip? The answer is “it depends”. This week, we clear up five misunderstandings about travel insurance, specifically around those pesky and confusing pre-existing conditions (PEC).

What are pre-existing conditions? A pre-existing condition is any illness, disease, injury, or other condition that happens prior to a plan’s effective date. So something like high blood pressure or a sprained knee in the past are pre-existing conditions.

All travel insurance covers pre-existing conditions.  False: Policies vary widely on what they cover, and some don’t include medical coverage at all. When discussing travel insurance, we’ll review your needs and concerns, and tailor a policy accordingly, such as adding emergency evacuation coverage. Some policies will cover pre-existing conditions if the policy is purchased within 7 to 14 days of your initial trip payment. Other times, you may determine that health coverage isn’t necessary at all, for example if your entire trip is within the U.S. where your regular insurance would kick in. Keep in mind though that your insurance does not include medical evacuation back home.

A condition that occurred at any time in your life won’t be covered. False: If you miss the purchase cut-off to have Pre-existing conditions covered in your policy, the “look back” period should you file a claim is usually 90 to 180 days from the plan’s effective date. So, if your condition hasn’t appeared during this timeframe, you generally should be covered for it. Otherwise, any fallout due to that specific condition likely would be your responsibility to pay for.

I can buy insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions any time before my trip. False: All plans that include medical coverage require you to purchase the policy within a set timeframe of your first trip payment. You also need to be medically able to travel at the time the policy is purchased. These rules are more to entice you to purchase the policy, but they also provide the insurance company some assurance that you are buying in good faith.

Coverage for pre-existing conditions costs extra. False: If purchasing a comprehensive package, there isn’t an extra cost specifically associated with pre-existing coverage. It’s included for FREE; just make sure you understand the policy’s look back period and purchase deadlines. Purchase up front with your first trip payment and PEC exclusion is waived.

Recurrence of a pre-existing condition allows you to cancel your trip. False: Let’s say you haven’t had a flare up for a year, but lo and behold, it happens on your vacation. Does this give you the green light to scrap the rest of the trip?  Possibly, but it depends on the situation. You may be able to receive minor medical treatment, or it may be severe enough to warrant a full cancellation. We’ll help you navigate your options if this were to occur.

When considering travel insurance for PEC, it’s important to read the fine print carefully to make sure you aren’t left footing the bill. Take time to understand the tradeoffs of different policies to find the one that suits your needs and budget. We’ll help lay out all the options for you. With the right coverage in place, you can relax and enjoy your time away stress-free. 

About Denise

My goal is to simplify travel-planning through an equal exchange process where I acquire your ideas and expectations for your trip relieving you of the worry, hassle, stress and time that accompanies Do-It-Yourself planning.

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