With age comes wisdom and, for many, the freedom to explore the world. However, if you’re over 50 and have existing health conditions, obtaining suitable travel insurance can seem daunting. This guide will navigate the complexities of travel insurance with medical conditions, especially for those over 50 in the UK, ensuring that your adventures are both memorable and trouble-free.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions
- The Medical Screening Process
- How to Choose the Right Travel Insurance Provider
- What should you look for in a policy?
- Travel Insurance for Different Health Conditions
- What should you do in an Emergency?
- Tips for Travellers with Pre-Existing Conditions
1. Understanding Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions
Pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, can impact your travel insurance policy. In the UK, it’s essential to disclose your health and medical history when applying for travel insurance. Under the Equality Act 2010, insurers must not unduly discriminate, but accurate disclosure is vital to securing the right cover.
Specialist Insurance Companies can usually provide cover for the following pre-existing conditions:
- Diabetes – type 1 and 2
- Heart conditions – including if you have recently had a heart attack
- Circulatory conditions – such as Stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, DVT or varicose veins
- Eye conditions – such as glaucoma or cataracts
- Joint, bone and muscle issues – such as osteoporosis, hernia, arthritis, back or neck problems
- Respiratory conditions or allergies – such as asthma, COPD, allergies
- Digestive conditions – such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, gastric reflux and gallbladder issues
- Chronic illnesses – such as cancer, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis
- Psychological conditions – such as anxiety, depression and other mental health issues
- Other conditions – such as cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, HIV, thyroid conditions, neuropathy or kidney problems
2. The Medical Screening Process
UK insurance providers often require a medical screening process, including questionnaires or potential medical examinations. It’s crucial to provide accurate information, working with your NHS doctor if needed. Failing to do so may void your policy, leaving you without coverage abroad. Here are some examples of questions related to your medical history that you may may be asked during medical screening:
- Have you had any inpatient or outpatient treatment?
- Have you had any surgery?
- Have you been referred for investigations or medical treatment?
- Have you had any unplanned hospital admissions?
- What medications do you take?
- Are you or have you ever been a smoker?
Even if your condition is well managed and controlled, it is vital that you declare all medical conditions as these can be affected by changes in temperature and climate when travelling.
3. How to Choose the Right Travel Insurance Provider
In the UK, specialist providers like Staysure, AllClear, and Avanti offer coverage tailored to pre-existing medical conditions. These providers comply with FCA regulations, ensuring protections for UK consumers. Compare their policies, premiums, and customer reviews to find the best fit for your specific medical needs. Here is a look at some of the key providers:
Staysure is one of the leading providers of travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions in the UK. They offer comprehensive cover for various medical conditions, including diabetes, heart conditions, and cancer.
- Comprehensive Medical Screening Process
- Cover for Multiple Pre-existing Conditions
- Award-winning Customer Service
AllClear is another specialist in medical travel insurance, providing policies for a wide range of pre-existing medical conditions. They have options for single and multi-trip insurance, allowing flexibility for travellers.
- Over 1,300 Different Medical Conditions Covered
- 24/7 Emergency Medical Helpline
- Customisable Cover Options
Saga specialises in travel insurance for the over-50s, including those with existing medical conditions. Their policies offer peace of mind with tailored features for senior travellers.
- No Upper Age Limit
- Optional Add-on for Pre-existing Medical Conditions
- Emergency Medical Expenses Coverage
- Free Spirit
Free Spirit is a specialist provider focusing on travel insurance for people of any age with pre-existing medical conditions. They provide both single trip and annual multi-trip policies.
- Medical Emergency Helpline
- Cover for Serious Medical Conditions
- Flexible Payment Options
Goodtogoinsurance.com is dedicated to providing travel insurance cover regardless of age or medical condition. They consider all conditions and have no upper age limits.
- Cover for Pre-existing Medical Conditions
- Online Medical Screening Process
- 24/7 Access to UK-based Medical Assistance
Other Insurance Companies who specialise in Travel Insurance with Medical Conditions in the UK include:
- Avanti Travel Insurance
- Medical Travel Compared
- Just Travel Cover
- Insure & Go Insurance Services
4. What should I look for in a Policy?
Look for comprehensive coverage for emergency medical expenses, understanding any limitations and exclusions specific to UK policies. Assess the implications of Brexit on European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) for UK citizens and the policy’s approach to repatriation and medical treatment abroad.
If you have a EHIC card issued before the end of 2020, it can still be used up to its expiry date in the EU. However if you are travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, your EHIC is no longer valid.
Whilst the EHIC card and its replacement, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) provide a certain level of insurance cover, all the experts agree that they should never be relied upon as a replacement for good travel health insurance.
When comparing travel insurance policies, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, it’s vital to carefully evaluate several key factors to find the best coverage for your needs. Here’s what to look out for:
- Coverage for Pre-existing Medical Conditions: Ensure that the policy specifically covers your pre-existing medical conditions. If not, any claims related to those conditions could be denied.
- Medical Screening Process: Understand the medical screening process required by each insurer, as this will determine eligibility and coverage.
- Medical Expense Limit: Check the maximum amount the policy will cover for medical expenses. This should include hospitalisation, emergency medical treatment abroad, medications, and other related costs.
- Exclusions and Limitations: Look at what is not covered and any specific limitations that apply to pre-existing medical conditions.
- Emergency Assistance Services: Evaluate the insurer’s emergency assistance services. Are they available 24/7? What support do they provide in a medical emergency?
- Repatriation and Evacuation Coverage: Ensure the policy covers the cost of returning you to your home country if medically necessary, or transporting you to a nearby medical facility.
- Destination Restrictions: Some policies might exclude specific countries or regions, particularly if you’re traveling to a place with high medical costs.
- Premium Cost: Compare the cost of premiums, keeping in mind that the cheapest option might not provide adequate coverage.
- Deductibles and Co-payments: Understand if there are any deductibles or co-payments that you will be responsible for.
- Cancellation and Trip Interruption: Check how the policy handles trip cancellations or interruptions related to your medical condition.
- Policy Extensions: If your travel plans change, can you extend the policy? Is there a grace period for coverage?
- Customer Reviews and Ratings: Consider looking at customer reviews and ratings of the insurance provider. This can give you insight into customer service and satisfaction.
- Compliance with Local Regulations: Ensure that the insurance provider complies with the local regulations of your destination. This can affect the acceptance of your insurance by local medical providers.
- Prescription Medication Coverage: If you need specific medications for your condition, verify that these are covered.
- Additional Benefits and Supplementary Clauses: Some insurers offer additional benefits or supplementary clauses that can be added to the policy, such as coverage for accompanying family members.
- Terms and Conditions: Thoroughly read the entire policy document, including the fine print, to ensure there are no hidden clauses or surprises.
By carefully comparing these aspects, you can find a travel insurance policy that provides comprehensive coverage for your particular medical condition and travel needs. It may also be beneficial to consult with an insurance agent or specialist to guide you through this complex process.
5. Can I get Travel Insurance for my Health Condition?
a. Travelling with Heart Conditions
Those with heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, or arrhythmias, must be very careful when planning travel. These conditions can make the physical demands of travel more challenging, particularly when dealing with aircraft stairs, long walks, or luggage handling. Travellers with heart disease must ensure they have all necessary medications, a copy of their EKG, and a recent medical report summarising their condition.
Travel insurance is essential for these individuals due to the potential risk of a cardiac event occurring during travel, which can lead to substantial medical expenses.
Travel can disrupt routines, which can pose challenges for those managing diabetes. Changes in meal times, activity levels, and time zones can all impact blood sugar control. Individuals with diabetes need to plan their activities carefully to avoid hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.
Travel insurance with medical conditions such as diabetes is important as it can cover potential medical costs associated with glucose management, such as insulin, glucose monitors, and emergency medical treatment if severe hypo- or hyperglycaemia occurs.
c. Respiratory Diseases (e.g., COPD, Asthma)
Those with respiratory diseases need to consider the impact of their destination’s climate and air quality, as well as the physical demands of travel. Some may require oxygen during the flight or at the destination if it’s at a high altitude.
Travel insurance can cover the cost of medical emergencies, treatments or hospitalisation that could arise from respiratory distress during the trip.
d. Neurological Conditions (e.g., Stroke, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease)
Travellers with neurological conditions may face challenges related to mobility, fatigue, and medication management. They may also have specific needs, such as wheelchair access or extra legroom on a flight.
Travel insurance policies for these conditions typically cover emergency medical expenses, including ambulance fees, hospital charges, and medical repatriation, which can be particularly high for neurological emergencies.
Travelling during or after cancer treatment requires careful planning. Fatigue, weakened immunity, and specific dietary needs are among the considerations. The cost of travel insurance can be higher for individuals with a recent or ongoing cancer diagnosis due to the higher risk associated with their health status.
f. Mental Health Conditions (e.g., Depression, Anxiety Disorders)
People with mental health conditions might find the disruption of travel and potential stressors, such as flight delays or busy tourist areas, challenging to manage. It’s important to have a mental health crisis plan and to be aware of local mental health resources at the travel destination.
Travel insurance for mental health conditions is crucial as it covers you if you need to cancel your trip due to your mental health, or if you require treatment for your mental health condition while abroad.
Each of these conditions has unique considerations, and it’s crucial that individuals consult with their healthcare provider to discuss their specific situation and needs before travelling. Also, they need to fully disclose these conditions when applying for travel insurance to ensure they are appropriately covered.
Travelling after Hip or Knee Replacement Surgery
Travelling after major surgery like a hip or knee replacement requires additional considerations. Here are some of the key points to consider:
Timing of Travel
Travel too soon after surgery could increase the risk of complications. It’s generally recommended to wait at least 6-12 weeks post-surgery before embarking on a trip. However, this depends on individual recovery rates and the advice of your orthopaedic surgeon.
Mobility and Comfort
Those who’ve had a hip or knee replacement may have limited mobility, and long periods of sitting can cause stiffness and discomfort. Therefore, planning for comfort during travel is essential. This might include requesting special assistance at the airport, opting for more legroom on flights, and planning regular stops for stretching or walking during car journeys.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Patients who have had hip or knee surgery have a higher risk of DVT due to reduced mobility. Long periods of inactivity during travel, particularly on long-haul flights, can further increase this risk. Therefore, you should discuss DVT prevention strategies with your doctor before travelling. These may include wearing compression stockings, taking blood thinners, or performing leg exercises during the flight.
Rehabilitation and Medication
If still undergoing rehabilitation or taking specific medication after surgery, you should plan accordingly. This might mean finding a local physiotherapist at the destination or ensuring you have enough medication for the duration of the trip.
When it comes to travel insurance, those who have recently undergone surgery like a hip or knee replacement are seen as higher risk. This means premiums may be higher, and it may be harder to find coverage. It’s crucial to disclose recent surgeries to the insurer to ensure adequate coverage is provided. It’s also wise to consider a policy with high medical coverage and a clause for emergency evacuation, given the potential for postoperative complications.
6. What should I do in an Emergency?
As a UK traveller, knowing how to handle a medical emergency abroad is essential. Your travel insurance can assist you, covering the costs and guiding you to the appropriate care. Here are some of the steps you should take:
- Call for Immediate Help: If the situation is life-threatening, call the local emergency number immediately. Many countries have a specific number for medical emergencies (e.g., 112 in many European countries).
- Contact Your Travel Insurance Provider: If possible, contact your travel insurance provider’s 24/7 emergency assistance line. They can guide you to the nearest appropriate medical facility and advise you on coverage and payment.
- Seek Medical Attention: Visit the nearest hospital or medical clinic. If you’re unsure of where to go, ask your hotel or a local guide for assistance.
- Inform the Medical Staff: Let the healthcare provider know about any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, or medications you are taking. Carry a medical card or information in the local language if possible.
- Keep All Documentation: Collect and keep all receipts, medical reports, and other related documents. These will be necessary for any insurance claims later on.
- Contact Your Embassy or Consulate: If the situation is severe, consider contacting your home country’s embassy or consulate. They may be able to provide assistance or further guidance.
- Notify a Family Member or Friend: If possible, inform someone back home about the situation and provide them with your whereabouts and contact information.
- Follow Medical Advice: Comply with the medical staff’s instructions and complete any prescribed treatment or follow-up care.
- File a Claim if Necessary: Once you are safe and able, contact your travel insurance provider to file a claim if needed. Provide all necessary documentation and cooperate fully with their investigation.
- Consider Translation Services: If you’re in a country where English is not widely spoken, consider using a translation app or service to communicate effectively with medical staff.
7. Tips for Travellers with Pre-Existing Conditions
Before traveling, consult with NHS healthcare providers to understand your medical needs abroad. Carry necessary medical documents recognized by UK and foreign authorities. Follow UK guidelines for managing pre-existing conditions while travelling, such as carrying adequate medication supplies.
- Carry a copy of your travel insurance policy and a list of emergency contact numbers with you at all times.
- If you have a smartphone, it is useful to create a digital document with the key policy details and emergency phone numbers. Save the document with an easily recognisable title like “Insurance Emergency Info.” On a standard phone save the details as a draft text message or in your contacts.
- Take a photograph of the key details on your smartphone or record a voice memo with all the essential details. If possible ensure the photograph is backed up to a cloud service so that if you lose your phone or it gets damaged, you can access the details from any other device.
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or carrying a card with relevant information in the local language.
- Familiarise yourself with the healthcare system of the country you are visiting before departure, so you know what to expect in an emergency.
What is Travel Insurance for Pre-existing Medical Conditions?
Travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions covers medical expenses related to those conditions while traveling. It includes coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalisation, and sometimes even medications related to the pre-existing condition.
Do I Need to Declare My Pre-existing Medical Conditions When Applying for Travel Insurance?
Yes, it’s essential to declare all pre-existing medical conditions when applying for travel insurance. Failure to disclose them could result in your policy being voided, and any claims related to those conditions could be denied.
Can I Get Travel Insurance if I Have a Serious Medical Condition?
Many providers specialise in travel insurance for individuals with serious medical conditions. While coverage might be more expensive or come with specific limitations, options are usually available.
How Does the Medical Screening Process Work?
The medical screening process typically involves answering a series of questions about your health and medical history. Some insurers may require a medical examination or doctor’s note for specific conditions.
What Happens if I Need Emergency Medical Treatment Abroad for My Pre-existing Condition?
If you have travel insurance covering your pre-existing medical condition, you should contact your insurance provider’s emergency line. They will guide you to appropriate medical care and handle the expenses according to your policy.
Are There Any Pre-existing Conditions That Travel Insurance Won’t Cover?
Coverage varies among providers and policies. Some insurers might exclude certain chronic or terminal conditions. It’s essential to carefully review the policy and consult with the provider to understand what is and isn’t covered.
Can I Get Travel Insurance for Pre-existing Medical Conditions for Any Destination?
Coverage can vary by destination, particularly if traveling to a country with high medical costs. Check with your travel insurance provider to ensure that your desired destination is included in the coverage.
Will My Premium Be Higher if I Have a Pre-existing Medical Condition?
Premiums for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions may be higher due to the increased risk associated with medical care and treatment while travelling.
What Should I Do if My Medical Condition Changes After I’ve Purchased My Policy?
If your medical condition changes after purchasing your policy, notify your travel insurance provider as soon as possible. Depending on the change, it might affect your coverage or premium.
Can I Get Coverage for My Prescription Medications Related to My Medical Condition?
Some travel insurance policies offer coverage for prescription medications related to pre-existing medical conditions. Be sure to check with the provider to understand the terms and limitations.
Will my NHS Coverage Apply Abroad?
No, NHS coverage does not extend outside the UK, emphasising the need for medical travel insurance.
How has Brexit impacted Travel Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions?
Brexit has changed the EHIC regulations, making travel insurance even more crucial for UK citizens travelling within the EU.
What Counts as a Pre-existing Medical Condition?
A pre-existing condition is a health or medical issue that you have experienced in the past. It may be a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes or a one off problem. Generally if you have experienced symptoms, obtained advice, treatment, tests or medication for a health condition, insurers treat this as a pre-existing medical condition. If you are slightly unsure, ask before taking out the insurance cover.
Embarking on exciting travel adventures in your 50s and beyond shouldn’t be overshadowed by concerns about health conditions. By securing comprehensive travel insurance with medical conditions, you can ensure you’re covered in case of any medical emergencies, giving you peace of mind to enjoy your trip fully. Always remember to thoroughly research your options and seek advice if necessary. Here’s to safe travels and exciting adventures!