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When Does Travel Insurance Cover Existing Medical Conditions?

Travel insurance is more than a perk or a “nice to have.” A travel insurance plan can save your travel investment if you must cancel your trip for covered health reasons caused by pre-existing medical conditions. But in order for this to happen, you’ll need to select a plan that offers a Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion Waiver, and also meet specified conditions. Additionally, emergency medical coverage can reimburse you for the costs of getting covered medical treatment domestically or overseas.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

We know this can seem complicated. We’re here to help. Before we jump into the details of how you can obtain a travel insurance plan that can cover a pre-existing condition, let’s define exactly what we’re talking about. Quite simply, a pre-existing condition is an injury, illness or medical condition that caused someone to seek treatment, presented symptoms, or required medication. This may have taken place anytime within 120 days prior to and including the plan’s purchase date.

Note that you don’t even need an official medical diagnosis from a physician for something to be considered a pre-existing condition.

How to Meet Conditions for a Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Waiver

We know that the term is a mouthful, but the conditions needed to qualify for a Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Waiver are fairly straightforward.

First and foremost, you must insure your full nonrefundable trip costs. From there, 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 can be covered for most existing medical conditions. We’re going to cover each of these conditions a bit more in depth below.

Note that 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 plan.

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 and you purchase travel insurance to protect it. If you suffer knee problems and you have to cancel the trip, are you covered?

With a pre-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  plan. 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 people named in the insuranceplan . 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 a pre-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 plan 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 pre-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 pre-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, pre-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 a prostate condition that will keep him grounded. 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 pre-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 pre-existing medical condition coverage, so be sure to know the amounts.
  • You must be a U.S. resident to buy travel insurance with existing medical condition coverage.

We encourage customers to contact our insurance advisers at 1-866-884-3556. They'll answer your questions and help you find the travel insurance plan that's best for your unique needs. Safe travels!

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Nov 10, 2017