The Ultimate Guide to Medical Travel Insurance

When you are on your travels, the unexpected can always happen which is why it is important to take out travel insurance from the moment that you book your holiday. Travel insurance protects you against costs or losses that you may experience. This includes cancellations, loss of possessions and medical bills. From the moment that you book your accommodation and flights, you are at risk of losing out should you need to cancel, so ensure that taking out a travel insurance policy is one of the first things you do. 

Why Do I Need Medical Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is an important purchase for all trips, but it is essential for those travelling with a medical condition. Although most travel insurance policies will offer cover for medical emergencies, cancellation and curtailment (coming home early) they aren’t often able to offer cover for undeclared, existing, more complex, medical conditions. Medical travel insurance, on the other hand, is specifically designed to assess risks associated with existing medical conditions such as, but not limited to; cancer, strokes, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and lung and heart conditions.  

How Can I Find Suitable Medical Travel Insurance?

The best way to find a policy suitable for your needs, that will cover your medical conditions at a reasonable price, is to do your research. In this day and age, the internet is the best tool and will allow you access to specialist medical travel insurance providers at the click of a button. It is also worth speaking with any support groups you may be a part of and asking for recommendations. Your treating doctor or medical department may also be able to provide you with a list of medical travel insurance specialists.

At Insurancewith we pride ourselves in taking our time to understand your medical history and any specific needs and requirements you may have when going on holiday so that we can provide you with the most suitable medical travel insurance for your needs.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Cover levels and exclusions will vary depending on your insurer, so it is advised that you check the policy wording carefully before you make your purchase. In general, most travel insurance covers:

Cancellation Cover – Most travel insurance providers will cover the cost of cancellation (remember to check cover levels) if you are no longer able to go on your holiday. Bear in mind, some travel insurance policies have limited reasons you are able to claim cancellation and others will cover you for anything that is outside of your control. You will not be covered, however, if you need to cancel your holiday due to an existing medical condition that you have not declared on the policy.  

Insurancewith offers up to £5,000 for cancellation cover*.   

Medical Cover – Travel insurance providers will cover emergency medical expenses up to a certain amount. All of our Insurancewith policies offer up to £10million for emergency medical expenses, including bringing you back to the UK if medically necessary. We also have a medical assistance team that will be contactable 24/7 in case of medical emergencies.

Specials medical travel insurers will also cover you for incidents relating to existing medical conditions and side-effects of any treatment for your medical condition, as long as you have declared the condition on your policy. Medical cover often also includes costs associated with staying abroad if it is medically necessary (limits will apply).

Personal Possessions Cover – The majority of travel insurance providers will offer cover for personal possessions if they are lost, stolen or damaged while you’re on holiday. Be wary though, there will be cover limits per item and most policies will not cover gadgets such as mobile phones and smart watches as standard.

Why Do I Need to Declare My Medical Conditions?

If you have an existing medical condition, you must declare it to your travel insurance provider. If a medical condition is not declared, then any claim that occurs, as a result, may not be approved.

Declaring an existing medical condition may increase the cost of your policy, however, it will ensure that you are covered should you need to cancel or cut short your trip, or if you need medical attention abroad. This also includes cover for emergency medical treatment, aftercare and repatriation.

Taking Medication on Holiday

When taking medication on holiday the first thing you will need to check is that the medication is legal in the country you are travelling to. For example, Tramadol (a commonly prescribed painkiller) is illegal in Turkey and carry it into the country, even unknowingly, can result in a fine, being banned from entering the country and/or imprisonment.

Following on from this, we always recommend you get a doctor’s note outlining the medication you are on, the dosage and the condition it is prescribed for. Once you have the letter, it is a good idea to translate it into the language of the country you are travelling to. This way, if you need medical attention abroad you will be able to show them the medication you take and the conditions you have. You can read more about the rules of travelling with medication, how to store them in your luggage and how much to take here.

Can I Fly with My Medical Equipment?

Generally speaking, yes you can fly with your medical equipment (this includes; wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, CPAP machines etc) however there are certain actions you will need to take when booking your holiday.

Some airlines will require you to notify them in advance if you are travelling with any medical equipment and may ask you to complete additional paperwork which will need to be submitted before you are due to travel. If you are travelling with medical equipment, you may also be asked to provide a ‘fit to fly’ letter from your GP or treating doctor, these can take up to 2 weeks to arrange, so if this required, make sure you request it in plenty of time.

It is also important that you do not put certain medical equipment through the x-ray machine at security. Instead, it is advised that you notify the nearest security worker and request a manual search/inspection instead.

How Do I Declare My Medical Condition?

You can declare your medical condition/s while completing your travel insurance quote either over the telephone or online. Generally speaking, you will be asked two sets of ‘trigger’ questions; ‘have you ever in your lifetime’ and ‘have you in the last two years’. If you answer yes to any of these you will be asked to complete a medical declaration.

Depending on the medical travel insurance company, you may need to provide a list of your medications and the conditions they have been prescribed for. It is also worth having important information to hand including diagnosis dates, dates and names of treatment and any recent test results.

At Insurancewith we are incredibly proud of the care we take of our customers and their medical needs and although we may ask a few more questions than expected it allows us to fully assess the risks based on how your condition affects you and your day to day as opposed to just putting you into a ‘category’ with a set price. Our founder, Fiona, also works closely with the community and charities to ensure we are evolving with the times which allows us to amend our question sets to including new technologies and treatments. You can read more about Fiona and why she founded Insurancewith, here.

It is important to note, that any changes to your medical health that occur before you are due to travel should be reported to your travel insurance provider so they can carry out a reassessment if necessary.

What to do in a Medical Emergency Abroad?

In the case of a medical emergency, you will need to either telephone for an ambulance (remember to look up the local equivalent of 999 before heading on holiday) or make your way to the nearest public hospital. Please note, most travel insurance providers – including medical specialist travel insurers – will not cover the cost of private medical care unless essential or they have approved it beforehand.

The next step is to contact your travel insurance company as soon as possible and get in touch with their emergency contact team for support and advice on treatment and the next steps. Our dedicated team are on hand 24/7.

It is advised that you keep any hospital receipts and doctor’s notes/treatment letters as you will need to provide them to your travel insurer if you submit medical expenses claim.  

Do I need to declare any changes to my medical health on my travel insurance?

Yes, you need to declare any changes to your medical health to your travel insurance provider as soon as possible, this includes changes to current conditions as well as new conditions (even if they are still under investigation).

It’s usually a simple process, and you will need to contact the customer service team and explain any changes that need to be made. You may be asked a few more questions regarding your medical update in order to assess if there are any new risks. It should be noted that the cost of your policy may vary or cover may be discontinued. In the case where your travel insurance provider will no longer be able to cover you, you may be entitled to use the policy to claim for cancellation of the holiday or receive a pro-rata refund of your policy cost. This will differ between insurers so be sure to ask this at quote stage if this is something that concerns you.  

How to make a claim on my Medical Travel Insurance Policy?

It is a relatively easy process to make a claim on your medical travel insurance policy. You will need to contact your travel insurers claims department and explain that you need to make a claim for medical expenses, they will then be able to send you the relevant forms and advise on any evidence that may need to be submitted. At Insurancewith, we have a 24/7 claims portal where you can quickly and easy submit your claim online, alternatively you can get in touch with our claims department via email or telephone.

When you are making a claim that involves anything other than a medical emergency there are a few things to keep in mind. You will want to check the policy wording to make sure that you are covered. You will need to check which documentations are required for your claims such as receipts, reports and invoices and keep hold of any damaged items that are involved in your claim.

What Will NOT be Covered by My Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is there to protect you financially should the worst happen but there are certain instances where your travel insurer will not cover a claim.

Examples of this include:

Top Tips When Travelling with a Medical Condition

Keep medical paperwork with you

It is a good idea to keep your medical information on you at all times when you travel abroad. So should you have a medically related incident you are making it easier for foreign medical services to give you the medical assistance you need.

Your medical information should include:

Make sure your travel insurance covers all of your medical conditions

The importance of this has already been stressed but it will be mentioned again. It is so important that you declare all current medical conditions with your travel insurer before you travel abroad so that you are fully covered. This includes illnesses, conditions requiring treatment and any recent injuries.

Consult with your GP before travelling

If you have an existing medical condition, you should visit your GP or medical team beforehand for a routine health check. Depending on your medical condition you may be asked to carry a “fit to fly” test to ensure you can travel at high altitudes. If you pass, your GP will give you a certificate that deems you fit to fly.

Always have a backup plan

Overall, if you are travelling abroad the best tip we can give is to prepare and have a backup plan for everything.  Medical bracelets and copies of your prescription are very important to carry in case of an emergency.

*Insurancewith Single Trip Platinum Policy. Cancellation cover limits will differ between policies.

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