Australians still travelling without insurance because of medical conditions - SK Media

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Australians still travelling without insurance because of medical conditions

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Australians still travelling without insurance because of medical conditions

Organising travel insurance might not be the first thing a lot of us think about when planning to travel. For some people, however, it may be easier to forget about it altogether rather than spending hours finding coverage for their medical conditions.

In fact, six per cent of people who travelled to Southeast Asia without insurance did so because they could not find coverage for their pre-existing conditions or age, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) survey of traveller behaviour revealed.

Since countries in Southeast Asia are among Australia’s most popular destinations – as well as those with the highest number of consular assistance cases – there is a potentially large number of people travelling without insurance and risking their health and safety.

However, things may be about to change for those travellers who embark on trips with pre-existing medical conditions.

Our new filter makes searching for cover even easier
Our travel insurance comparison service now includes a filter function on our quote results page that, when applied, shows which providers give customers an option to assess all pre-existing medical conditions. This means customers can find out immediately if their conditions are covered and if any additional premium is payable.

Travel insurance quotes on Compare the Market's comparison service, with the filter applied to show which providers assess pre-existing conditions

Our resident money expert, Rod Attrill, says these changes aim to make it easier to find travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions, saving them the trouble of going to each provider – and the risk of travelling without insurance.

‘Rather than researching or contacting many different travel insurance providers, people can visit one place to see which providers will offer assessment for their pre-existing medical conditions,’ he said.

‘Travelling with a medical condition can be difficult and stressful enough without having to worry about finding insurance, so we hope that our newly-upgraded service can help make this process simpler and easier for customers across Australia. In fact, we know that since we have upgraded our comparison service, we have already assisted hundreds of customers find an insurer who can assess their pre-existing medical conditions.’

Are pre-existing medical conditions covered by travel insurance at all?
There are providers out there that do offer travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions, and automatically include cover for specific conditions. These do vary between policies and providers, but some commonly covered conditions can include:

  • asthma
  • cataracts
  • coeliac disease
  • congenital deafness and blindness
  • diabetes mellitus (Type 1 and 2)
  • epilepsy
  • gastric reflux
  • hypertension
  • hyperthyroidism
  • overactive/underactive thyroid.

However, there may be limits on who can be covered for their automatically-included pre-existing condition. For example, some providers may require people with either type of diabetes to have:

been diagnosed more than six to 12 months before taking out a policy;
  • no complications within the last six months; and
  • no other related health problems (like heart disease or eye and kidney complications).

Other pre-existing conditions, like congenital blindness and deafness, may have no eligibility criteria for coverage.

Some providers may also offer to assess your pre-existing medical conditions for cover (if it isn’t already covered) to ensure that you don’t end up travelling without travel insurance. Providers who offer this are tagged in our travel insurance comparison service for your convenience.

How many Aussies could benefit from our new filter?
Medical conditions are becoming more prevalent in Australia’s population. For example, chronic conditions (which are categorised by travel insurers as pre-existing medical conditions) affected one in every two Australians in 2018.[3] These people suffered from at least one of the following chronic conditions:

  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • arthritis
  • cardiovascular disease
  • asthma
  • back pain and problems
  • mental health conditions
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Be aware that while some of these chronic conditions (like asthma and diabetes) may be automatically covered by some travel insurance providers, not all will be. Always check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or contact your provider if you’re unsure what you’re covered for.

With 50% of Australians affected by at least one of these conditions, there are potentially thousands of people who may be travelling without travel insurance because they were unable to find a suitable policy.

Why is travelling without insurance a bad idea?
Imagine this: you’ve decided not to get travel insurance because of your pre-existing medical condition, but now you have to cancel your whole trip due to the death of a young relative.

Perhaps your camera is stolen from you, along with all the photos of your trip. Or, maybe your suitcase is severely damaged in transit.

Travel insurance covers a lot more than just medical expenses. Even if you’re unable to get coverage for your pre-existing medical condition, it’s still a good idea to take out some level of travel insurance, because you never know when these or other scenarios may happen to you.

A good travel insurance policy will include cover for things like:

(for international travel or cruises) medical and hospital expenses;
Costs associated with cancellations and delayed travel;
lost or stolen luggage;
your legal liability if you cause injury, loss or damage to another person of their property; and more.
Head over to our comparison service to start your search for appropriate cover for your upcoming trip – and try out our new pre-existing conditions assessment filter!

Passengers seated on a plane
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How to navigate travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions
If you have a pre-existing medical condition and are planning to travel soon, Rod has a few tips to help you mitigate costs.

‘To save having to pay often large medical bills from overseas doctors and hospitals, travellers with pre-existing medical conditions need to make sure they have travel insurance that specifically covers their condition,’ he said.

Rod suggests that you complete a quick comparison quote through our service see if we have a product that meets your needs and allows you to assess any pre-existing medical conditions you have. The best time to do this and purchase insurance, he says, is when you buy the plane ticket. But you should also be sure you’ve got the right product.

‘Travelers should closely check their policy wording to make sure they have the cover they need, as there are a variety of ways insurers provide and/or limit cover for pre-existing conditions,’ he said.

Including your pre-existing medical condition in your policy may add to your premium, but Rod advises that you should always disclose your conditions and that it’s worth it.

‘Even though paying an additional premium to cover pre-existing medical conditions may add to the cost of travel insurance, this is a far better solution than your holiday ruined by amassing medical bills that you are personally liable for.

‘If you are worried about paying a higher premium, you may find that some providers will allow you to choose a higher policy excess in exchange for a lower premium. Some will allow you to elect an even higher pre-existing medical excess to reduce the cost of the additional premium to cover your pre-existing medical condition.’

As well as ensuring you’re adequately insured, Smartraveller recommends you visit your GP for a check-up in the weeks before you travel.[4] This way, your GP can check that your condition is stable and you are fit to travel, as well as providing you with letters for any prescription medicine you may need to take with you.

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