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Which Are Covered Illnesses When Buying Travel Insurance?

Which Are Covered Illnesses When Buying Travel Insurance?

We picked the biggest travel insurance companies we could find, and we asked what they consider to be covered illnesses when buying travel insurance. We would like to thank Allianz Insurance for going above and beyond when giving out information about travel insurance. Here is a link to their travel insurance website. We also took advice from Prudential PLC (UK Only) and Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (USA Only).


Take this as a general guideline and not as a specific guide. I say that because there is always an insurance company or two that covers or doesn’t cover the things we mention.

Look at it this way, when you enter a coffee shop, you kinda figure you know what sort of coffee they are going to serve, and in 90% of cases you would be correct, and then there are those few coffee shops who only sell Alaskan Berry-Bean coffee that tastes like your nan’s socks.

coffee with a skull and crossbones

When you are researching covered illnesses when buying travel insurance, remember that some travel insurance companies will go against the norm and contradict what is written in this article.

There Is No Long List of Illnesses

We had it confirmed by both Allianz and Berkshire Hathaway that no company has a long list of covered illnesses when buying travel insurance. If you have heard agents say that an illness is or is not on their list of covered illnesses, then there is a reason that I will explain in the next section. For now, take on board that no travel insurance company has a long list of diseases and illnesses that they cover.

There Are Precedent Lists

You may have heard a travel insurance agent or travel insurance claims agent say, “That illness is not on our covered list” or “Yes, you may file a claim…your illness is on our list of covered illnesses.”

We were told by our travel insurance insiders that agents and call center workers are trained to say things like this because it makes the claims process easier. Instead of explaining why your specific illness is covered, they simply say that your illness is on their list. The same is true if their claims agents figure that your illness shouldn’t be covered.

Agents (and especially call center workers) have precedent lists. These are illnesses and injuries that are so common that agents/workers can save time by referring to a list of approved/unapproved illnesses and injuries.

For example, food poisoning that requires at least one night in a hospital is very common, which is why claims in these cases are handled a little more quickly because agents do not need to “figure out” if you are covered, they can just check their list of precedents.

Certain Conditions Must Be Met In Order To Have Your Claim Paid

The most common phrase thrown out by travel insurance companies is that your medical condition or injury must be disabling enough so that any reasonable person would cancel their holiday. Sadly, the wording is rather generic and open to interpretation. That is why a physician (doctor or suitable authority) must confirm that your illness or injury is disabling enough to require you to cancel your trip/vacation or return home prematurely from your vacation/trip.

If your doctor advises you or your partner that the trip should be canceled, then your claim is more likely to be paid. If this is not possible, then you must see a doctor within 72 hours of you returning or within 72 hours after your cancellation to confirm your decision to return home or to cancel.

Some policies will pay up even if you are “not” the one who contracts a covered illness. You may be able to use your travel insurance benefits if a family member or traveling companion becomes seriously ill. If that is the case and you are the policy holder, then you may be able to use something such as trip cancellation insurance or trip interruption insurance and have your claim paid.

How Are Preexisting Medical Conditions Covered?

If an illness, injury or medical condition happens within 120 days prior to the date of your policy purchase, then it is considered a preexisting condition. That is 120 days prior to, and including the day you purchase your policy. This is hereafter called the “Specified period” below in this article.

The illness, injury or medical condition will be considered if it happened within the specified period, and if it presented symptoms. For example, if you go to the doctors and are told you have cancer, and are told you have had it for a year, but you didn’t know about it and there were no symptoms during the year, than that doesn’t count as a preexisting condition unless you run out and buy the policy “After” being diagnosed. If symptoms occur within the specified period, then your condition is preexisting.

If you had to seek medical examination, if you had to seek medical care, medical treatment or a medical diagnosis during the specified period, then you have a preexisting condition. You may be required to take medication or have treatment for a condition or medical problem, in which case you have a preexisting condition. In summary, you have a preexisting condition if:

1 – If you have symptoms within the specified period
2 – If you are taking medication for a condition
3 – If you are receiving treatment for a condition within the specified period
4 – If you need a medical exam, diagnosis, treatment or care from a doctor within the specified period

Remember that your medical condition, injury or illness doesn’t need to be formally diagnosed in order to count as a preexisting condition. For example, if you are having back ache within the specified period, but you have not told your doctor, it is still a preexisting condition.

Will My Travel Insurance Company Cover Me With A Preexisting Condition

Here is a perfect reason why comparisons websites are useless when picking travel insurance polices. They do not take into account things such as preexisting conditions and/or covered illnesses when buying travel insurance. You need to get into specifics with your travel insurance company before you are able to see a real quote, and there is a chance that your travel insurance company will not cover you once they discover your preexisting condition.

The problem is that you cannot lie to them because if you do and you need to make a claim, then they will discover your lie and refuse to pay you. Even if your lie has little to do with the reason you are claiming, they are still able to void your insurance because you lied.

Most travel insurance companies Have Their Own Rules On Preexisting Conditions

Each travel insurance company has its own coverage conditions for preexisting conditions. Again, there is no list of covered illnesses when buying travel insurance. If you have a pre-existing condtiion, then you need to pick a policy that will cover you. For example, Allianz Global Assistance has a few insurance plans that cover preexisting conditions, but they ask that you conform to these terms:

1 – When you buy your policy, you insure the full non-refundable cost of the trip, and you do it on the policy purchase date.

On the day you purchase your policy, you have to insure for the full non-refundable cost of your entire trip, which also includes things such as non-refundable trip arrangements, and includes cancellation penalties between the date you purchase your policy and the date of your departure.

2 – When you purchased the policy, you were/are a US citizen

On the date you purchased your policy, you have to have been a full US citizen. It doesn’t matter if you are no longer a US citizen after the date of purchase. You need to be a full US citizen and not on some sort of Visa.

3 – Your preexisting condition doesn’t stop you from taking the trip

You have to be medically able to take the trip on the date you make your purchase. For example, if you have rheumatism flare ups that leave you disabled for a while, and you are buying your policy while currently unable to walk or use your limbs, then your travel insurance is void even if you are expected to be fully mobile long before your trip.

4 – Your policy was purchased within the specified time frame written in your plan

Your plan is going to specify a time frame for you to buy your travel insurance. Usually, you have to buy within 14 days after making payment for your trip, or within 14 days of making your first payment/deposit for your trip.

If you receive additional non-refundable expenses for your trip after you have purchased your policy, then you must insure them with Allianz too. You must do it within 14 days of their purchase. Fail to do so, and the expenses will still be subject to the preexisting medical condition exclusion.

What Are Not Covered Illnesses When Buying Travel Insurance?

In other words, are there illnesses that are not covered by travel insurance? As you have probably guessed, not all conditions and illnesses can be covered. Here is a short list of some of the illnesses and conditions that most travel insurance companies will not cover.

[O] Ailments and illnesses related directly to drug abuse or alcohol abuse
[O] Any illness that has been classified as an epidemic
[O] A nervous health disorder or a mental disorder that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association
[O] People exhibiting symptoms of a mental or nervous disorder
[O] Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, neurosis, and psychosis

If you have any preexisting conditions like these, then your travel insurance will:

[-] Refuse to cover you in any way
[-] Exclude you from some of their polices (such as trip cancellation insurance)
[-] Ask that you purchase additional insurance policies
[-] Increase your rates without further explanation
[-] Cover you and make it very difficult to successfully claim

Will My Travel Insurance Cover Pregnancy?

Your travel insurance is not going to cover pregnancy. However, if you purchase your plan and then discover you are pregnant, then there is a chance your trip cancellation insurance will cover you. Plus, if a family member discovers she is pregnant after you buy your insurance, then you may be able to cancel and have your claim paid if you need to attend the birth.

Your travel insurance company is not going to cover “Normal” pregnancy, which means they are not going to pay for the childbirth, routine medical care, or any pregnancy-related expenses. However, if you state that you are pregnant when you buy your travel insurance, then your travel insurance policy may cover complications such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, and if you require emergency medical treatment for pregnancy-related problems, then your losses may be covered. If you have pregnancy complications while traveling or just before traveling, then you may qualify for trip interruption benefits, trip cancellation benefits and emergency medical benefits.

If you want your claim to be paid, then have a physician sign off on your illness or medical problem. If you are an expectant mother and your doctor has not given you a medical diagnosis, then there is a strong possibility that your claim will not be paid. Doctors often tell expectant mothers not to fly and to get plenty of rest, and these are not good enough reasons for your claim to be paid; even if you have a medical note advising you not to fly and advising you to rest, it needs to come with some sort of diagnosis as to what your pregnancy’s medical problem is.

Make Sure You File Quickly Enough

Our research, and the information we received from the travel insurance companies was very clear. Payable claims expire, and they usually expire rather quickly. Most travel insurance companies will require a full claim within 90 days of the incident that caused your monetary loss.

Making a claim quickly may be difficult, especially if you are still settling bills and are having trouble figuring out how much you have lost. Plus, the claims process requires evidence that you may be having a hard time getting. The first thing you should do it make contact with your travel insurance company and find out how long you have before your right to make a claim expires. The travel insurance companies we interviewed said you should make a claim within 90 days of your loss, but some travel insurance companies have shorter claiming periods.

Finally, make sure you list all of your losses and all of your refunds. If your travel insurance company discovers that some of your losses were refunded to you, then they have the legal right to both deny your whole claim and even sue you for withholding information.

About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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