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Best travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions

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Medical conditions can be a barrier to getting travel insurance - we give you the low-down on getting round it

Best travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions
Photo by Georg Eiermann / Unsplash

We've used independent research to list travel insurance companies that offer cover for pre-existing medical conditions. If you're looking for a quote right now, you can compare medical travel insurance here.

Bonus: enter the code ERGHX10 for a 10% discount with Just Travel Cover

Top 8 travel insurance for people with medical conditions

  • Just Travel Cover – Gold
  • Saga –  Annual Travel Insurance (Note: only available for Over 50s)
  • Staysure – Comprehensive
  • M&S Bank – Annual Travel Insurance
  • InsureandGo – Black
  • AllClear – Gold
  • Age Co – Annual Travel Insurance (formerly Age UK)
  • Covered2Go – Gold

To come up with the list of the best travel companies for medical conditions we compared research on travel insurance with medical conditions from several sources.

First, we looked at the insurer's rating on an independent financial reviewer's site that rates how comprehensive the policies are. Then we looked at Fairer Finance's comparison of different travel insurance providers' performance on customer happiness, trust, transparency, and dealing with claims and complaints.

We also looked at Which?'s rating of each provider, which takes into account customer service, value for money, the clarity of the policy and their competence in dealing with enquiries. We awarded extra points if any of the insurers had won awards.

Finally, we consulted a Which? report comparing the prices offered by a selection of travel insurance companies for four medical conditions (Breast Cancer, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, and Heart Disease). We awarded points for each one of these conditions that a company would cover.

The travel insurance policies that scored the highest were the ones that performed strongly in all of these categories.

Blue Bear used to be on our list but it dropped out during our last update because it does not have a Which? rating and is not rated by any of the customer service review websites. The Which? report about travel insurance policies that will cover medical condition indicates that it now only covers three of the above conditions.

Others, such as Saga and Staysure, were rated highly on Which and Fairer Finance, but were not included in the Which? report on conditions covered. However, these companies should still provide cover for many pre-existing medical conditions.

Will the insurance companies listed give me the cheapest price for travel insurance?

It's important to bear in mind that these will not necessarily be the cheapest options if you have a medical condition.

In fact, for many medical conditions, it can be difficult to find cheap cover anywhere.

Remember, though, that the cheapest insurance isn't always the best. All the providers on our list should offer a good level of cover for pre-existing medical conditions. With cheaper insurance, you may not get the cover you require.

Is honesty the best policy when it comes to getting travel insurance with medical conditions?

The insurance industry is tough on those with medical conditions, particularly so in travel insurance, as a medical condition means higher costs. It’s frustrating because travellers who are honest and declare every medical detail often face hefty premiums to cover potential medical costs.

This creates a temptation to keep medical information secret and not declare conditions when buying. However, if a claim arises and the insurer discovers the condition when investigating the claim, they may deny payment on the grounds that the traveller was not fully honest when they bought. Unfair as it is, there is little argument against this because the insurer specifies the rules and the traveller agrees to those rules when they buy the insurance policy.

Do I need to declare my medical conditions for travel insurance?

The key is in understanding the rules that each insurer uses to decide if you have to declare a medical condition at all (before they even consider the pricing for that condition). So let’s take a look at what these rules are:

  • "Have you ever…" - Insurers specify a number of conditions that you must declare, regardless of when you have had them in your life. These are typically severe physiological conditions such as heart problems, cancer and breathing difficulties, but they can also including psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression.

So what? The important thing is that each insurer has a slightly different list of conditions, so you might find you don’t need to declare something for one insurer, but you will for another.

  • "Have you recently…" - There are many conditions that do not fall into the ‘have you ever…’ category above – such as Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Epilepsy. For these conditions, insurers will ask whether you have had any symptoms, treatment or medical consultations ‘recently’.

So what? The important thing to consider here is ‘recently’ means within the last 1 year for some insurers and within the last 2, 3 or even 5 years for others. So if your condition last troubled you 3 years ago, you could find an insurer where you wouldn’t even have to declare it. It is worth noting too that many insurers will count taking any medication as part of a condition, so if you're still on medication from a condition you suffered from 10 years ago, you'll probably still have to declare it.

  • Terminal - sadly many insurers will not accept a terminal prognosis.

I had a medical condition 3 years ago. Do I still need to declare it?

It depends.

Different pre-existing medical conditions travel insurers will treat conditions differently. For instance, the insurer AllClear requires you to declare if you have had been diagnosed with any medical conditions that you're taking medication for in the last 5 years. However, Avanti will only require you to declare it if you have had the condition in the last two years. This could be true for specific conditions, too.

Sometimes psychiatric and psychological conditions are treated differently.

Remember that insurers usually include follow-up appointments and ongoing medication in their definition of having a condition; so if you recovered from a transplant operation 10 years ago but are still taking medication, you probably need to declare the transplant.

The right insurer for you depends on your personal circumstances. There are a large number of conditions aside from the few mentioned above that need to be declared if you are purchasing travel insurance, and different insurers may have different definitions of 'having a condition'. Make sure you read the policy documents thoroughly before making a decision and, if you can't find the information you're looking for, call the insurer and ask.

Are there any other options?

If you feel like all the forms you have to fill to get quotes from the different providers look the same, you have a point.

They all use a Healix based scoring system for medical conditions, which means both the questions and the way the quotes are calculated are very similar (although of course, the premiums do vary).

One of the few exceptions to this rule is World First, who use a non-Healix system, and therefore may produce different results (although, if you have been refused cover before, there is no guarantee you will be accepted through World First).

Some banks also offer travel insurance either separate from your current account or included in a bundle deal. Some may offer cover for pre-existing medical conditions. For instance, First Direct says it may be able to provide cover for some pre-existing conditions if you declare them before you purchase.

Much the same as with dedicated travel insurance companies, you must declare any pre-existing medical conditions before you take out the policy. If you don't, you may not be able to claim successfully. It's best to read the policy documents of the travel insurance provided by your bank to see if you are covered for pre-existing conditions.

The final word on getting travel insurance with medical conditions

Always err on the side of caution and contact the insurer to be certain of the rules they are laying out and how they apply to your own situation. Honesty is the best policy to make sure you have the cover you need. It pays to understand the rules.