When searching for the right travel medical insurance plan, you may have noticed that most plans exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Alternatively, you may have filed a claim with your travel medical insurance company and received a denial for that claim based on a pre-existing condition. You may be surprised and frustrated if you weren’t aware that visitors insurance typically doesn’t cover treatment related to pre-existing conditions or didn’t know that the illness you received treatment for was considered a pre-existing condition.
While there are a handful of visitors medical insurance plans that offer some form of pre-existing condition coverage, most plans typically exclude this type of coverage. The reason behind why pre-existing conditions are often excluded isn’t as complicated as it seems, and is actually logical when you think about it critically.
Does Travel Insurance Cover Pre-existing Conditions?
Most travel medical insurance plans do not cover treatment for pre-existing conditions, and for understandable reasons. A pre-existing condition is typically defined as an ailment, injury, sickness, or other health condition that existed in the policyholder, whether known or unknown, before they purchased their travel medical insurance plan. When you receive treatment from a doctor or hospital, an attending physician will determine whether or not your condition was pre-existing.
There are a few logical reasons as to why travel medical insurance doesn’t typically cover pre-existing conditions:
- These conditions existed in you (whether known or unknown) before the start of your insurance plan, and travel insurance is meant to cover new injuries or illnesses after the effective date of your plan.
- Pre-existing conditions are a known risk that come with a strong likelihood that you'll need treatment or care.
- Travel insurance is short-term and designed to cover unforeseen illnesses or injuries while abroad.
- Treatment for pre-existing conditions is often expensive.
- Visitors insurance only requires a one time premium as opposed to domestic health insurance which you continue to pay for periodically, making it less financially plausible for a travel insurance company to pay for pre-existing condition treatment.
Why Are Pre-existing Conditions Often Excluded From Travel Medical Insurance?
Think of pre-existing conditions coverage like this: you purchase a brand new car, and decide not to get insurance on your vehicle. You unfortunately get into an accident and your car is dented within just a few weeks of purchasing. Now, you try to get an insurance plan after the fact, and expect that the insurance company will cover the damage to your car that occurred before you were insured. However, you weren’t insured at the time of the accident - therefore, you will not be covered. Logically, it makes sense that the car insurance company would not cover you for an instance that happened before you were insured.
Now, using this same logic, we can look at pre-existing conditions. While the insurance company does want to provide assistance for the short-term coverage that you paid for in the event that you become unexpectedly ill or injured during your travels, they don’t want to cover for those illnesses which already existed in you prior to purchasing your plan, much like the car insurance scenario explained above.
Options for Travelers With Pre-existing Conditions
If you are a traveler that has a known pre-existing condition or you are a senior traveler, you still have options when it comes to travel medical insurance plans with pre-existing conditions coverage. These plans may come with a higher premium but can offer limited coverage in certain instances for pre-existing conditions. Additionally, there are plans that offer coverage for the acute onset of pre-existing conditions, which typically refers to the sudden or unexpected recurrence of a previous pre-existing health condition which is not chronic and was not being suffered from at the time of purchasing your plan.
Now that you have a better understanding of why pre-existing conditions aren’t typically covered under travel medical insurance, you can be better prepared when purchasing a travel medical insurance plan and save yourself frustration in the future during the claims process.