Finding the Best Travel Insurance for Your Next Trip – Especially for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

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Table of Contents

Understanding Travel Insurance

Introduction – how does medical travel insurance work?

Welcome to the world of travel insurance. We hope that here at Emerald we can help you find what you need. 

In this blog, we outline what a travel insurance policy may look like. Now, at Emerald we do not do a specialist medical travel insurance that covers pre existing conditions. Why is that? Because all our policies cover pre existing medical conditions, and there are very few pre existing conditions that we don’t cover.

Emerald has to schemes to help you as the customer – Standard and Enhanced. You can do this journey online or speak to one of our agents between 9 and 5 on 0330 113 7109. Or click HERE for a quote in minutes. 

What is travel insurance, and why do I need it?

Travel insurance offers financial protection for specific problems you might face on holiday. It can cover emergency medical expenses, medical treatment, and other medical costs as well as coverage for lost luggage, public liability and so forth

The medical section of your policy covers the cost of medical care if you become ill or have an accident. As with all travel insurance in the UK, you will need to declare any pre existing medical conditions that you may have. This can usually be done with an online application process where there is also an online medical screening.

You will need to declare any medical condition or medical conditions as part of your application for travel insurance. If you do not so that, then in you have a medical emergency abroad and it relates to a medical condition that you did not declare, then you may find that you have no cover, or any claim under your travel insurance is refused. 

The reason for this is that travel insurance cover is priced to take into account any pre existing condition and any other medical condition that you may have. And if you are thinking of being dishonest to save a few pounds, don’t. All insurers have the right to ask for your medical records when looking at a claim. 

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Travel Insurance

What is a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance?

A pre-existing medical condition is an illness or injury that exists before, or at the time, you take out an insurance policy. It may show up in your medical history, but even if it does not show in your medical history, you will need to mention it when you take out travel insurance. 

It could be an ongoing condition, or one you have been treated for in the past.

The good news is that you do not need specialist medical travel insurance (or any specialist travel insurance at all) unless your pre existing medical condition is extremely serious. If that is not the case, then any travel insurance with medical cover should suffice – provided that you declare everything that you need to during your online medical screening.

Examples of pre-existing medical conditions: diabetes, asthma, heart conditions

As part of your medical screening you will need to disclose all your medical history, but here are some examples of the sort of pre existing medical condition that you may need to declare:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Heart conditions
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Joint and bone inflammation
  • Mental health issues

The Importance of Travel Insurance

What happens if you don’t have the correct medical travel insurance?

With a standard policy where you have not disclosed any existing medical conditions, you may not be covered – even for anything not related to your condition. In that case, you would need to pay for medical costs incurred due to your pre-existing conditions, and those medical expenses can easily reach thousands of pounds very quickly.

According to FCDO figures, if you were to fall over in Spain and require treatment for a broken leg, you would be looking at costs of around £15,000. Something more serious could cost several times more, and we are not even talking about medical emergencies here. 

How medical travel insurance can help with pre-existing medical conditions

Medical travel insurance covers emergency medical treatment abroad, including hospital charges and ambulance fees. But again remember to declare anything in your medical history, whether large or small- high blood pressure, respiratory problems, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, eating disorders, any other chronic conditions etc should be declared. You do not have to declare anything temporary, such as s stomach bug, nor certain medication eg PReP, anti-retrovirals, or contraceptive medication. 

It also covers repatriation (medical transport back home) if needed.

What is medical screening?

In short, you have a series of general questions to answer about you general history and then some more specific questions on any pre existing condition that you may have. Each insurance provider will have a standard question set, but they do not exchange details so you will have to enter any pre existing condition with each application to a different travel insurance provider. 

How Medical Travel Insurance Works

Limitations of European Health Insurance Card (EHIC): what they don’t cover

The GHIC has replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in EU countries now.

The GHIC isn’t a substitute for travel insurance with medical conditions. It does tend to be only for emergency cover and at a local hospital. In some cases, it also does not provide cover for terminal conditions. You may still need travel insurance with medical conditions covered.

It doesn’t cover you for: the costs of rescue and repatriation (an air ambulance from Spain back to the UK costs £10,000 or more).

Declaring Medical Conditions for Travel Insurance

What health conditions will I need to declare?

You’ll need to declare any medical conditions or illnesses you’ve been diagnosed with or treated for. The only issue with completing the relevant medical questions is that sometimes you will not be able to get travel insurance if you are awaiting test results for something major (ie again not just a stomach bug)

This disclosure requirement typically applies to conditions or injuries within the last five years or if serious, at any time.

Even if you’ve had the all clear, you’ll still need to declare health issues and any medical attention you have received recently. 

How far back do you need to declare medical conditions for travel insurance?

Most insurers ask for you to declare medical conditions you’ve had treatment, advice, or medication for over the last five years (or longer if more serious). However, often they are just asking a few details about your medical situation. Remember you need to declare your medical conditions, not any medication that you are taking. 

However, this can vary, so it’s best to check with your insurance provider. Either call or look at the policy documents, and remember that you need to pay any additional premium if you have any extra cover over and above a standard travel insurance policy. 

Getting the Right Cover for Your Needs

How to get travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions

Insurance for medical conditions doesn’t have to be hard to buy. You can usually do this online.

This will cover you for medical emergencies abroad, including emergency medical expenses and emergency medical assistance. And with the right cover this will cover any pre existing condition. 

How to find the right cover if I have a medical condition?

One of the best ways to find the right travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition is to simply see what’s out there and compare offers. As for the question of how much medical cover, most travel policies will have a sufficient amount. For Emerald, an award winning travel insurance provider, we provide blanket medical cover of £10m. Of course, other travel insurance providers are available. 

With each travel insurance provider, they will all offer cover that will pay for medical care and emergency treatment but have a look at reviews and how claims are treated, and general reviews. 

Cost and Savings

How much does medical travel insurance cost?

The cost of medical travel insurance will differ based on a number of factors.

The important ones are age, length of travel, health conditions and the travel destination. There are certain times when you will not be able to get travel insurance, for example, if you travel against doctor’s advice or you are not UK residents (at least for a UK provider to offer cover). 

How can you reduce the cost of travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition?

If you’re concerned about the cost, there are some steps you can take to get cheaper travel insurance.

The length of your trip and the cost of medical treatment in the country you plan to visit can affect the costs of medical cover. You will find it cheaper to travel closer to home, or for shorter periods. 

If you have anything more serious, or are awaiting test results, you may need to call your insurer. You can call Emerald on 0330 113 7109 and we will see if we can cover you, although underwriters are often less keen to provide cover while test results are outstanding. 

You should never knowingly declare your medical conditions inaccurately.

Additional Tips and Considerations

Is there an age limit on medical travel insurance?

No, there is generally no upper age limit on travel insurance policies, but there may be limits on how far you can travel and if there is a combination with serious pre-existing medical conditions.

Can I exclude a medical condition from travel insurance?

As part of the quote process, we ask you to declare all of your conditions as part of our medical screening for Travel Insurance. 

Historically it used to be possible to exclude certain medical conditions but that is no longer the case as often it meant that customers were not getting a suitable policy. 

There are some conditions that you don’t need to declare as we discussed above. If you’ve had a cold or flu, but didn’t need to see a doctor or take any prescribed medication, then you don’t need to tell us about it.

How to make sure you’re ‘fit to travel’?

If you need to make a claim, you may need a letter from your doctor confirming that you were fit to travel at the time you bought your policy, and the date when you were declared unfit to travel. 

Also if you make a claim for something that looks like a longer term condition, the insurer may wish to see your doctor’s records to check if you have declared all your pre-existing medical conditions. 

Can you still get cover if your medical condition is undiagnosed?

This can be more limited. 

In this case you will need to call an insurer and whether they can provide cover will depend on the severity of the potential condition and whether there is likely to be an issue when you travel. 

Remember, if you are unsure please to call your insurer FIRST to check the situation. 

Does medical travel insurance cover prescription medication?

Yes, medical travel insurance covers any prescription medication you might need when abroad, so won’t be left without medication that you might need. 

Is pregnancy a medical condition for travel insurance?

No, pregnancy is not considered a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance.

However, any pre-existing pregnancy-related conditions are classed as pre-existing conditions, such as gestational diabetes. You would also not be covered for non-emergency pregnancy costs if an issue arose on holiday. 

Comparing and Buying Travel Insurance

Ready to get a quote?

The travel insurance industry has been rightly criticised for selling cheaper and cheaper policies that in fact offer less and less cover. 

You can still find those types of policies on price comparison websites. At Emerald we believe strongly in a quality travel product and so we do not appear on price comparison websites for travel insurance.

That won’t stop you getting and Emerald quote though – you can just click through and get an immediate quote HERE

Compare options and apply

Compare travel insurance quotes from different providers to find the best policy for your needs.

About Our Travel Insurance

Emerald Life is directly authorised by the FCA under number 945500, registered address 286 Queensbridge Road, London E8 3NH. 

Emerald is a non-advised service – you will need to take your own view as to whether any Emerald product is suitable for you. 

If you have any further questions, email us at or call on 0330 113 7109.