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Pre-Existing Medical Condition Trip Insurance - 2020 Review

Pre-Existing Medical Condition Travel Insurance concerns some travelers. We are here to help.

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If you have a Pre-Existing Medical Condition and want trip insurance that covers that medical condition, many plans can cover it. If the condition is stable and you purchase travel insurance early, you can still have full coverage.

Medically Stable Conditions Might Be Covered Anyway

First, we discuss how travel insurance defines a medically stable condition.

If there were no changes in the condition within the past 60-180 days before you bought travel insurance, the policy might already cover it. The 60-180 window is also known as the Look Back Period. The shorter the window, the better.

Plans with 180-day Look Backs make us a bit nervous because there is a higher risk that the insured may not be covered. But if you have not visited the doctor for a long time, there is nothing to worry about.

If you had a doctor's appointment more recently, you might not have a "stable" medical condition, as the travel insurance company sees it. Pay close attention to how the Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Condition works.

Travel Insured International Worldwide Trip Protector - Pre-Existing Medical Condition & Waiver

To illustrate how Pre-existing Conditions and Medical Waivers work, we will use Worldwide Trip Protector, one of our most popular plans.

When you review your Travel Insurance quote with us, you will see a box for each plan. To find the critical information about Pre-existing Conditions, check the right side:

WTP Quote

Pre-Existing Condition Benefit

  • Look-Back Period: 60 days
  • Waiver of Look Back: Yes
  • Time-Sensitive Period: 21 days

What does this mean?

The policy offers a Pre-existing Condition Waiver (Waiver of Look Back: Yes) if you purchase the policy within 21 days of the Initial Trip Deposit Date.

If you buy the plan after the 21-day Time Sensitive period expires, you are subject to the Look Back Period of 60 days.

The insurer has the right to look at your medical history for the 60 days immediately before you bought the policy to determine if there is a Pre-existing Condition.

Trip Insurance Standard Policy Exclusions

Every travel insurance policy has a list of activities and conditions that are not covered, such as racing cars or piloting an aircraft. Namely, travel insurance excludes Pre-existing Conditions.

When we get to the Pre-Existing Condition exclusion, the language looks like this:

GENERAL EXCLUSIONS AND LIMITATIONS
Benefits are not payable for any loss due to, arising or resulting from:

... due to a Pre-Existing Condition, as defined in the policy. The Pre-Existing Condition Limitation does not apply to the Emergency Medical Evacuation or return of remains coverage;

Note that a Pre-Existing Condition will not prevent you from using the Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit. The insurance carrier isn't going to leave you behind if your Pre-existing Medical Condition requires a Medical Evacuation.

But, what is a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?

Pre-Existing Medical Condition - Definition in Trip Insurance Policy

Here is what Travel Insured says about Pre-Existing Medical Conditions:

The company will not pay for any expense as a result of any illness, disease, or other condition during the 60 day period immediately prior to the date Your coverage is effective for which You or Your Traveling Companion, Business Partner or Family Member:

1) received or received a recommendation for a test, examination, or medical treatment for a condition which first manifested itself, worsened or became acute or had symptoms which would have prompted a reasonable person to seek diagnosis, care or treatment; or

2) took or received a prescription for drugs or medicine.

Item (2) of this Exclusion does not apply to a condition which is treated or controlled solely through the taking of prescription drugs or medicine and remains treated or controlled without any adjustment or change in the required prescription throughout the 60 day period before coverage is effective under this policy.

In the trip insurance policy language we see above, the Look Back Period is only 60 days. The insurance company is only concerned about the time right before you bought the policy.

Shorter Look Back Periods make it easier for travelers to find coverage.

Then, the policy states it will cover medical conditions if they have not worsened or received a medication change within 60 days. Thus, you do not have a Pre-existing Condition in this carrier's eyes.

A typical example is if you took the same high blood pressure medication for years, and nothing changed recently. According to the policy, you do not have a Pre-existing Condition, and you can buy travel insurance that covers it. 

When Does the Look-Back Period Begin?

Look Back refers to the time immediately before you bought your travel insurance policy.

It does not care about your date of departure, when you got the quote, when you return home, or when you booked the trip.

Look Back only cares when you bought the policy.

Contrast this to the Waiver requirements (discussed in the next section) that only care when you first paid money toward the trip. If the time between paying first money toward the trip and the day you buy the policy is less than 21 days, then it rewards you with an active Waiver.

Policies go into force the day after purchase at 12:01 am your local time. Therefore, the effective date is the day after you bought the policy.

How Can Travel Insurance Cover My Pre-Existing Medical Condition?

If you experienced a new injury or illness, or your doctor changed your medication during the Look Back Period, what are your options?

First, you can wait out the 60-day Look Back window and then buy travel insurance. Without Trip Cancellation, you risk leaving your trip exposed to loss while you wait it out.

Or, you can wait to book the trip until the 60-day Look Back Period is clear. Using this method, you have a lower risk because you'd buy the insurance at the same time you book the trip.

If you're lucky, waiting out the 60-day Look Back will work out.

But what if you don't want to leave it to chance?

Second, you would buy a trip insurance plan with a Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver.

Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion

As we know, travel insurance excludes coverage for Pre-existing Medical Conditions.

In some cases, the insurer can waive their right to review your medical history of Pre-existing Medical Conditions, and just cover them anyway.

Remember that Waiver we have been talking about? The Medical Waiver says that the policy will provide benefits for Pre-existing Conditions if the insured meets the requirements:

The exclusion for Pre-Existing Condition will be waived provided:

a) Your Payment for this policy and enrollment form are received within 21 days of the date Your initial Payment or Deposit for Your Trip is received; and

b) You insure all Prepaid Trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and also insure within 21 days of the Payment or Deposit for those Travel Arrangements the cost of any subsequent Travel Arrangements (or any other Travel Arrangements not made through Your travel agent) added to Your Trip; and

c) You are not disabled from travel at the time Your premium is paid.

Now, your Pre-existing Conditions can be covered!

To summarize:

  • Book early (within 21 days of trip deposit)
  • Cover 100% of trip costs
  • Be medically fit to travel

Next, we get into the details of the "Book early" requirement with a discussion of Time Sensitive Periods.

Time-Sensitive Period - Pre-Existing Medical Condition - Waiver of Exclusion

Suppose you have a Pre-existing Medical Condition, and the travel insurance carrier excludes it.

But you're considering a policy that offers a Waiver of Pre-existing Condition Exclusion if you buy the plan shortly after paying your Initial Trip Deposit.

That "shortly after paying Initial Deposit" part is known as the Time Sensitive Period. For the Worldwide Trip Protector, the Time Sensitive Period is 21 days. Some policies have periods as short as 14 days.

If you book your vacation in advance, such as a cruise trip, you may only pay a small deposit, rather than the full amount.

You might forget to buy insurance since it's a small amount, but the dollar amount doesn't matter. It could be $1.

If you pay any money toward a trip to book it, that is your Initial Trip Deposit or Payment date. And that's when the clock starts ticking on Time Sensitive Benefits.

Does Every Trip Insurance Policy Cover Pre-Existing Medical Conditions?

No.

Most travel insurers offer 3 or 4 levels of coverage, and the basic tier rarely includes a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions (AIG and John Hancock are exceptions).

Part of shopping around at a Travel Insurance Marketplace like AARDY lets you compare policies and look for options that include the benefits you need, like a Waiver.

Over the years, we reviewed many trip insurance policies and saw a wide range in the quality of coverage. Undoubtedly, the worst offenders are travel companies like Expedia, airlines, or cruise lines. Don't assume because you trust the company for your vacation that you can trust them for your insurance.

Their insurance programs are expensive and provide nearly no protection. They rarely cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions.

Whenever possible, we recommend all travelers buy trip insurance with a Waiver of Pre-existing Conditions to close the coverage gap. If you're traveling overseas, we also suggest $100,000 Medical Insurance and $250,000 Medical Evacuation protection to make sure you're covered in an emergency.

AARDY - Travel Insurance Marketplace

As always, at AARDY, we recommend that you consider travel insurance.

You can receive an anonymous quote in seconds, and compare top travel insurance plans from many of the largest US travel insurers.

You will save time and money finding the right travel plan for your needs.

We show you the same prices as if you went to each Trip Insurance Carrier directly. Also, we guarantee that you will not find the same Travel Insurance Policy at a lower price.

US anti-discrimination law forbids marking up or discounting Travel Insurance Policies, so we are confident in our promise of best value.

We make it as clear as possible for you to be able to assess each policy on the relative merits. Because of the importance of Pre-Existing Condition cover to our customers, we placed this particular type of trip insurance concern into a separate section within the quote boxes.

Regardless of your medical condition, there is probably a trip insurance plan that can cover you.

You might find it confusing if this is not something you have dealt with frequently. Please do not worry. We have Travel Insurance Agents who can guide you. Just talk with us before you buy your policy, and let us help you with your options.

Safe travels.

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