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Travel insurance – existing medical conditions & disability

Travel insurance is an essential purchase when you are planning a trip. The saying goes, “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. While travel insurance is important for everyone, for travellers with an existing medical condition, or for a person with a disability, it should be the first part of your trip you research and the first quote you get.

Travel insurance & existing medical conditions or disability - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Uluru Northern Territory, Australia

Travel insurance & existing medical conditions

Over the years I’ve received many panicky messages from our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community  asking for my help because they’ve booked and paid for their trip and when they’ve enquired about  travel insurance, they’ve found they can’t get cover for their existing medical condition. In some cases, they find the cost to cover their existing condition is exorbitant, costing them thousands of dollars. Far more than they ever imagined and certainly not something they’d considered in their travel budget.

This is avoidable by making sure you get an obligation free quote before booking your trip. It’s as simple as going online, answering questions and finding out how much the insurance policy will cost and whether you can get your existing medical conditions covered.

As an example, we’ve always used Covermore Travel Insurance and found that Braeden’s cerebral palsy is covered but that it does attract an additional cost. His reflux doesn’t cost any extra to cover but they will not cover his insomnia. Although we don’t use sleep medication at home for Braeden, we do sometimes use it when we travel. I disclose everything, even if it may not seem relevant, because if we ever need to claim, I don’t want there to be an issue because I haven’t included information.

Travel insurance & existing medical conditions & disability
Catseye Beach Hamilton Island, Australia

Travel insurance & disability equipment

When you apply for an obligation free quote from your chosen travel insurer ensure you include any disability equipment you wish to cover on your trip.

On international trips we’ve always covered Braeden’s manual wheelchair. To cover the wheelchair we’ve needed to provide a receipt for the wheelchair, proving the value of the wheelchair. If you haven’t kept your receipt, check in with the wheelchair manufacturer as they should be able to send you a copy.

Keep in mind, if an airline damages your wheelchair, or your other disability equipment, take photos of the damage and report it to the airline BEFORE leaving the airport. You may be able to settle the claim with the airline rather than using your travel insurance. This is good for two reasons, firstly if you’ve decided to accept an insurance excess (we usually agree to pay the first $250 or $500 because it reduces the cost of the premium) this won’t be affected and secondly, you’ll keep a clean insurance history. One of the questions on insurance policies is, “have you made an insurance claim in the last X number of years” which is the insurers way of weighing up how much of a risk you are to insure.

Travel Insurance & existing medical conditions & disability - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
When good holidays turn bad – Braeden at Alice Springs Hospital

What to do if you are declined cover on an existing medical condition

If you are declined cover on an existing medical condition or disability you can ask for a review.  Be prepared to provide medical reports or documentation to support your case.

If, after asking for a review, you are still unable to get cover, look at changing your destination. A destination like USA may be a problem with certain conditions due to the high medical costs associated with any medical intervention, however, you may find you will be approved for cover in Europe or Asia. This is one of the reasons I’m a firm believer in getting a quote for a trip before paying for it.  Many airlines now require ticketing within a day of booking so there isn’t long to make changes, without charge. Do your insurance shopping around early. Allow time for any back and forth correspondence that may be necessary if you are denied cover.

Travel Insurance & existing medical conditions & disability - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Floriade, Canberra

Help when you need it

Last year when I tested positive to Covid the first thing I did was ring my travel insurer. I felt relieved and had peace of mind after chatting to them. They walked me through what I needed to do in case I needed to claim (a supervised Covid test with report) and they also gave me information on what to do and where to seek help if my condition worsened. Thankfully I didn’t need to seek attention or claim but I was at least armed with the information should I have needed it. They also urged me to call back at any time if I needed anything.

Travel insurance & existing medical conditions & disability - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Fitzroy Island, Queensland

Want to know more?

Several years ago I wanted to learn about the process of how travel insurance works, what support they offer when you need it and more, so I spent the morning at the office of Covermore Travel Insurance to pick their brains so I could share more with our HWWT community. You can read about some of the surprising things I learnt, plus the staff’s best tips in this blog.

You may also be interested in our post on when we did need to claim on travel insurance on a domestic holiday – when good holidays turn bad!

This is not a sponsored post, I’m just passionate about ensuring our HWWT community is armed with the information to ensure you don’t get caught out without travel insurance. All the information I’ve provided is based on my experience and I suggest researching, asking questions and reading that pesky and long product disclosure statement (fine print) to make sure an insurance policy is right for you.

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