Pre-existing medical conditions and travel insurance

You’re insuring yourself not just your holiday

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Travel Insurance

The average cost of a claim for medical treatment last year was £2,268, however a good percentage of medical claims were over £10,000, and the largest was £148,341 – not a bill which most of us could afford to cover without having to sell our home.

The average medical cost to treat a heart attack was £11,372 and in the USA that cost increased to £24,536. Even an insect bite can result in medical bills in excess of £2,000.

Don’t just think ‘it won’t happen to me’ because it happens more often than you might think, according to statistics from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 10 British nationals are hospitalised abroad every day.

Most people know that they should buy travel insurance when they go on holiday, but do they really know what they are buying it for?

Travel insurance can cover many things including cancellation, travel delay, your personal possessions and the insolvency of an airline, but its main purpose is to cover emergency medical expenses in a foreign country.

The cost of medical treatment abroad and repatriation back to the UK can quickly amount to many thousands of pounds; if you are not properly insured you will be liable to pay those costs yourself and you could find that you are stranded in a foreign hospital if you are not well enough to fly home.

Buying travel insurance is rather like buying private medical insurance to protect you when you’re abroad; your insurer needs to have an accurate picture of your health in order to provide you with appropriate cover. 

To ensure that you are properly covered by your travel insurance you should declare all of your existing medical conditions to your insurer, including conditions such as high blood pressure which are controlled by medication. 

Exactly what you need to declare will vary with different insurers so it is important to read the questions carefully and answer accurately and honestly when you are getting a quotation. It is typical to have to declare any medical conditions for which you have received any treatment, taken any medication or seen a medical professional about in the last two years.

And remember, when you buy travel insurance you are insuring yourself, not just your holiday. So don’t compare the cost of travel insurance to the cost of your holiday; compare it to the potential cost of medical treatment abroad if you were uninsured.

Wherever you are travelling to, no matter how long for, it pays to have travel insurance in place, and to help you understand the potential cost of medical treatment in different countries.

Article researched and written by Sarah Findlay at who specialise in providing travel insurance for older travellers and those with existing medical conditions. For more facts and figures please see Travel Insurance and Medical Costs Abroad: The Facts


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