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Make sure your medical conditions are fully covered when travelling abroad

I know from experience that finding good affordable travel insurance cover can be difficult and even stressful at times especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or disability. My daughter & I have both have medical conditions and prior to me working for Free Spirit, I used to dread the thought of trying to find a suitable insurance cover to ensure we were both fully protected when travelling abroad.

Most standard travel insurance policies offer limited cover for medical conditions, which can lead people to travelling without appropriate cover. You may find that standard policies cover minor conditions but not chronic conditions like cancer, renal failure or even heart problems.

After spending long periods of time searching for a policy to cover epilepsy, I felt like giving up as the majority of standard policies I looked at, would not cover the condition because of the medication and the severity of the seizures. However I knew how important it was to find the right policy for our needs, no matter what.

Free Spirit is different as it can provide you with a tailor-made cover to suit every travellers needs. No matter what your age or holiday destination, we aim to cover the majority of conditions and better still, at a reasonable price! What’s more, we won’t ask you personal or irrelevant questions about your medical conditions. Our experienced medical screening team concentrate on providing a caring specialist service and we will only ask the questions that are relevant to the insurance policy.

It’s unlikely you will get this level of service with most standard insurance providers, where you may find yourself faced with an adviser who doesn’t know the first thing about your disability or medical condition. I remember spending hours on the phone having to explain the same details time and time again! You can imagine how frustrating it was. The difference with Free Spirit is that we care about the service we provide to our customers and we will always treat every customer fairly and just because you have a disability or medical condition doesn’t mean you have to be treated less favourably!

My main concern when travelling was to ensure we were both fully protected just in case we had a medical emergency while abroad. I very quickly established how important it is to declare all of your medical conditions when looking for a specialist travel quote, no matter how minor you think they are or how long ago you completed your treatment. Some specialist insurance policies like Free Spirit have a medical warranty as part of the quote process and will ask you some questions for example, if anyone has:

  • ever had any treatment for any respiratory conditions relating to the lungs or breathing?
  • ever had any treatment for any heart, circulatory, kidney, liver, or any type of cerebral condition relating to the brain or any stroke or central nervous system disorder?
  • been diagnosed or treated for any form of cancer in the last 5 years?
  • had any surgery, inpatient treatment or investigations or seen a specialist consultant in the last 2 years?

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, one in ten over 55 year olds admit that they do not always take out travel insurance, even though more than half say they have pre-existing medical conditions which could lead to a medical emergency while abroad.

It is a false economy to cut costs and not buy insurance or if you choose not to declare all of your medical history; your policy may be invalidated and in the event of a claim, you may not be covered. For example with some specialist policies, if you failed to declare that you have asthma or were recently admitted to hospital because of gastroenteritis or even had the ‘all clear’ from cancer and went on holiday, if you then suffered a medical emergency requiring treatment because of these un-declared conditions, your insurer may not be obliged to pay out. This of course could leave you severely out of pocket!

The Free Spirit medical screening team will ask you all the questions needed to ensure you get the right cover for your travel needs. However, you must give true answers to all questions, if you do not do so, the travel insurance may not protect you and anyone else covered on the policy in the event of a claim.

Free Spirit may ask you some questions such as:

  • Are you fit to travel (as confirmed by your medical practitioner)?
  • Are you on a waiting list, awaiting investigations or inpatient hospital treatment?
  • Have you any knowledge of the need for surgery, inpatient treatment or investigations?
  • Are you aware of a medical condition but have not yet received a diagnosis?

They will also ask specific questions in relation to your medical condition, for example for epilepsy:

  • If awake, do you normally lose consciousness during a fit/seizure?
  • How many fits/seizures causing loss of consciousness have you had in the last four weeks?
  • How many fits/seizures causing loss of consciousness have you had in the last six months?
  • How many unplanned hospital admissions have you had for epilepsy/seizures in the last year?
  • How many different medicines do you take for your epilepsy/seizures?
  • How long ago was your first fit/seizure?
  • If not already declared to us, is your epilepsy/seizures caused by?

Most people seem to think they don’t need insurance because they are only going to be away from home for a long weekend when going on a city break. They may have a preconception that specialist insurance is very expensive or because they haven’t booked a hotel as they are staying with friends and families, you don’t need insurance. You may also think you have sufficient insurance through your bank but don’t be fooled! They generally have age limits, high excess and restrictions on medical conditions covered.

After booking your package holiday, hotel or flight, the next purchase should always be specialist travel insurance. This will ensure you have cancellation cover in place should you need to cancel your trip because of your declared medical condition. More importantly, the specialist cover will give you the peace of mind that, despite your pocket being a few pounds lighter because of the cost of insurance, it won’t be tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket because you wanted to cut costs!

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