A view of a cabin overlooking a lake at sunset

Understanding Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Their Impact on Your Travel Insurance

Last updated: 5th July 2023

Travel insurance is an essential component of any well-planned trip, and for Canadians with pre-existing medical conditions, it becomes even more crucial. This guide aims to demystify the concept of pre-existing medical conditions and explain how they can impact your travel insurance policy.

By understanding the importance of declaring these conditions and obtaining the right coverage, you can embark on your journey with confidence and peace of mind, knowing that you are well-protected in case of unforeseen medical emergencies.

A couple are relaxing on chairs whilst on holiday

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing medical condition refers to any illness, injury, or medical issue that you have been diagnosed with, received treatment for, or experienced symptoms of before purchasing a travel insurance policy. This may include chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, as well as previous injuries or surgeries. Even if a condition is well-managed or has not caused any recent problems, it is still considered pre-existing for insurance purposes.

It is essential to understand that insurance providers have varying definitions, timeframes, and specific criteria in determining what is considered a pre-existing condition. For some insurers, a condition may be considered pre-existing if it was diagnosed or treated within a certain period, such as six months or a year before the policy's purchase. Others may require you to declare any condition you have experienced within a specified time frame, like three to five years. As such, it is crucial to read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy carefully to ensure that you fully comprehend how pre-existing medical conditions are defined and treated.

How do pre-exisiting medical conditions impact my travel insurance?

Grasping the significance of pre-existing medical conditions and their influence on travel insurance is vital for Canadians seeking the appropriate coverage. When you purchase a travel insurance policy, it is designed to provide financial protection and support for unexpected medical expenses that may arise while you are travelling.

However, if you have an undisclosed pre-existing condition and experience a medical emergency related to that condition while abroad, your insurance provider may refuse to cover the costs, leaving you to bear the financial burden yourself.

Moreover, failing to disclose a pre-existing medical condition or providing inaccurate information can lead to your policy being voided, resulting in the loss of all coverage. This scenario can be extremely detrimental, particularly in cases of severe medical emergencies, which may require extensive treatment, hospitalisation, or even repatriation.

By comprehending the impact of pre-existing conditions on your travel insurance, you can take the necessary steps to ensure you have adequate coverage for your specific health needs. This knowledge not only safeguards your financial well-being but also allows you to travel with a sense of security, knowing that you are prepared for potential medical emergencies.

What counts as a pre-existing medical condition?

To better comprehend what counts as a pre-existing medical condition, it is helpful to consider various examples and criteria that insurance companies typically use to categorise these conditions. While the specific definition of a pre-existing medical condition may differ among insurers, here are some common examples and factors that they consider:

  1. Chronic conditions: These are long-lasting or recurring health issues that require ongoing management, such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. If you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, it will likely be considered a pre-existing medical condition for insurance purposes.
  2. Previous surgeries or injuries: If you have had surgery or experienced an injury in the past, insurers may deem these as pre-existing medical conditions, particularly if they continue to impact your health or require ongoing treatment.
  3. Mental health conditions: Conditions like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are often considered pre-existing medical conditions, even if they are well-managed with medication or therapy.
  4. Undiagnosed symptoms: Should you have experienced symptoms of a medical issue before purchasing your insurance policy but have not yet received a formal diagnosis, these symptoms may still be regarded as a pre-existing medical condition.
  5. Medical conditions requiring ongoing medication: If you are taking prescribed medication for a specific health issue, such as high cholesterol or thyroid disorders, these conditions may be classified as pre-existing by insurance providers.

It is essential to remember that insurance companies may have their own criteria and timeframes for determining what constitutes a pre-existing medical condition. Always consult your insurance policy's terms and conditions or speak with a representative to fully understand how your specific health concerns will be treated within the context of your travel insurance coverage.

What is a medically underwritten policy?

When seeking travel insurance coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, Canadians may encounter policies that are either medically underwritten or those that incorporate a stability period. Understanding the differences between these two types of policies is essential, as it can influence the level of coverage, and eligibility for individuals with existing health issues.

  • Medically Underwritten Policies: A medically underwritten travel insurance policy requires the applicant to complete a medical screening during the application process. This screening is designed to assess the applicant's health status, taking into account their medical history, current conditions, and any ongoing treatments. Based on this assessment, the insurance provider will determine the applicant's eligibility for coverage relating to their pre-existing conditions. Medically underwritten policies can offer more tailored coverage and may provide more comprehensive protection for individuals with complex medical histories, as they take into account the unique circumstances of each applicant.
  • Stability Period Policies: In contrast, stability period policies do not require a medical screening during the application process. Instead, these policies rely on a predetermined period, known as the stability period, to assess an applicant's eligibility for coverage related to pre-existing medical conditions. As long as an individual's condition has been stable and unchanged during the specified stability period, the insurance provider may offer coverage for that condition. While this approach can streamline the application process and offer coverage for those with well-managed, stable conditions, it may be less suitable for individuals with complex or unstable medical histories. Additionally, the definition of stability and the length of the stability period can vary among insurers, so it is essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of each policy to ensure it aligns with your specific health situation.

Why do I need to tell you about my pre-existing conditions?

Declaring your pre-existing medical conditions is crucial in obtaining the appropriate travel insurance coverage. By disclosing your health history accurately and thoroughly, you enable the insurance provider to assess your specific needs and provide a policy that offers suitable coverage for your unique situation.

When purchasing a medically underwritten travel insurance, without a stability clause, that policy will be tailored to your individual needs. In the event that a declared condition flares up before your departure and you're unable to travel, you'll have the benefit of cancellation cover (if you have all-inclusive coverage).

Additionally, if you require medical assistance for a pre-existing condition while you're away, you can rest assured that the cost of treatment will be taken care of. In some cases, you may even be transported back home for further treatment if necessary.

Failure to declare a pre-existing condition may result in claim denial, leaving you responsible for any medical expenses incurred during your trip related to that condition. By being transparent about your medical background, you can ensure that you are adequately covered and avoid potentially costly surprises while travelling.

A group of friends chatting whilst on a yacht at sea

What is online medical screening?

Online medical screening makes it really easy to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions you or someone to be covered on your policy may have. Our simple screening service enables you to add medical conditions to your quote and receive medically underwritten quotes from companies that include those conditions.

No longer do you need to complete paper forms, wait for written confirmation, or discuss your medical history with a stranger over the phone. In just a minute or two, you can complete the process online and receive immediate cover.

What pre-exisiting medical conditions do I need to tell you about?

We'll ask a few brief questions about your medical history and that of anyone else you wish to include in your policy as part of your quote. This will help us determine if there are any health conditions you need to notify us about. Depending on your pre-existing medical conditions, you may be asked about the number of medications you take, hospital admissions, or when you were first diagnosed. Rest assured, you won't have to disclose the specific medications you take.

How do I add medical conditions to my quote?

Adding a medical condition is easy. Just select 'add condition' and we'll help you find the right one. Once you've identified the appropriate condition, we may ask a few follow-up questions to understand your unique situation and how it's affecting your current health - for instance, whether you were hospitalised or are taking medication.

Keep in mind that you only need to add the name of the condition; you don't need to include medication or treatment details. Although, we may ask a few questions about them to gain a better understanding.

If a traveller doesn't have any medical conditions, you can simply select 'nothing to declare' for that individual.

Once you're confident that you've added all necessary conditions, you can finish the screening process and view your quotes.

Will my coverage include the conditions I've declared?

All the quotes we present to you will take your medical conditions into account. You'll be able to verify all the details you've provided to us once you see the quote results. Plus, we'll send you an email confirmation when you take out a policy, so you have a record of what you've disclosed and what you're covered for. Keep track of your coverage with ease.

A couple look at a picture they have taken whilst on the beach

Can I not declare some of my conditions?

To put it simply, "no" is the best advice. While you can purchase standard insurance that excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions, this isn't the case for specialist travel insurance. It's important not to pick and choose which conditions to declare, as doing so may result in voided coverage if another medical condition flares up. It's always best to be upfront about all medical conditions when making a declaration, so that travel insurance providers can assess your coverage options based on all the facts. This way, you'll get the safest coverage at the best possible price.

Will declaring my pre-exisitng medical conditions affect the cost?

While many medical conditions can be covered at no extra charge, it's still important to declare them all. The severity of your condition will determine whether any additional premium is required.

We'll include all costs in the price we show, so you won't have any nasty surprises, and travel insurance providers will base any extra cost on the risk of you requiring medical treatment while you're away, or needing to cancel your holiday due to your medical condition. If your illness is severe or your condition is unstable, you may have to pay more for travel insurance cover.


Our medical screening process has been designed to make it easier and simpler for you. Just complete one set of screening questions, and you'll receive quotes from all available providers.

Click below to get started and witness the simplicity for yourself.

Get a quote
Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, having worked with some of the worlds largest insurers. Tommy’s primary focus has been developing the best possible online experience for travellers looking to compare travel insurance rates. Music and travel are two of Tommy's greatest interests, and even better when he can combine the two together!


Sign up for regular updates

Get the latest news, travel tips, and destination inspiration straight to your inbox.