To understand acute onset of pre-existing conditions, you need to first understand the difference between a pre-existing condition and an acute onset of a pre-existing condition. Definitions may vary by plan, and it's always recommended to review individual plan definitions in the Description of Coverage for specific details.
A pre-existing condition is defined as an injury, illness, sickness, disease, or other physical, medical, mental, or nervous condition, disorder or ailment (whether known or unknown) that, with reasonable medical certainty, existed at the time of application or within a period of time immediately preceding the travel insurance plans certificate effective date. Most travel insurance policies don't cover pre-existing conditions.
However, some travel insurance plans do cover acute onset of a pre-existing condition. An acute onset of a pre-existing condition is defined as a sudden and unexpected medical episode related to a pre-existing condition. To be classified as acute onset, the medical event must occur spontaneously and without advance warning (either confirmed by a physician or by the obvious presence of symptoms). Acute onset usually pertains to a rapidly progressive medical event that requires immediate attention and lasting for a short duration.
The above definition doesn't cover all the aspects of acute onsets of a pre-existing condition. Many policyholders mistakenly believe that any sudden manifestation of symptoms can be classified as an acute onset of pre-existing condition. But in order for a medical event to be considered an acute onset of a pre-existing condition, it must meet specific criteria and many of these criteria vary by plan.
For example, if a policyholder suffers from Type 1 Diabetes at the time of or before the policy effective date, insulin, wouldn't be covered. However, if the diabetic policyholder were to require medical attention due to a diabetic shock, this might be something that would meet the standards for an acute onset of pre-existing condition. The difference is that while inulin is regularly required to maintain the health of the diabetic, whereas a diabetic reaction or shock is a sudden severe medical episode that may require extraordinary medical care and/or hospitalization.
Keep in mind that travel insurance is designed to provide coverage for emergencies, accidents and any new and unexpected injuries or health problems that may occur while abroad. It's not meant to replace the domestic or preventative care the insured would receive at home for pre-existing conditions. If traveler is in poor health or at high risk for a medical event, it's likely best for them to refrain from travel.