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Travel insurance question

What kind of insurance should one purchase if they miss the window for pre-existing conditions? Should one purchase a pre-existing condition waiver for a higher price or just go for the lower-cost insurance without the waiver? Would appreciate tips on the ins and outs of travel insurance, thanks.

Posted by
4820 posts

Travel Insurance comes in many forms and covers different things. You need to assess where your risk is and act appropriately, knowing nothing about you, it would be impossible to make any recommendation. Some comments though:

You seem to be talking more about health coverage while travelling, Medicare (if that applies) will not cover you, so it would be wise to have something, though general health care in Europe is much, much, lower cost than in the US, unless your plan does offer coverage.

A pre-existing waiver is a decision you need to make, just be certain that failing to disclose a pre-condition does not invalidate any claim. Also even though the claim may not be directly related to the pre-existing condition, they may claim it contributed to the claim (Diabetes for example may contribute to a number of issues or make a seemingly unrelated condition worse or more expensive to treat)

Evacuation can be the most expensive part of a claim, may want to look into that.

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you. Being new to purchasing travel insurance, I missed the window for pre-existing conditions and am wondering how much of a mistake is that. We have no illnesses, exercise and eat healthy. We should be fine with purchasing insurance without the pre-existing condition waiver, right?

Posted by
20624 posts

Sorry to repeat this BUT are you trying to buy travel insurance (trip interruption, cancellation, etc.) and/or medical insurance to cover illness, evacuation, hospitalization, etc. ???? Really two different policies but sometimes get rolled into one policy that doesn't do a very good job with either situation. Exactly what expenses or situation are you try to insure or prevent? Travel related problems or medical related problems? And what pre-existing condition, in general terms, are you dealing with?

PS -- If you don't have any pre-existing conditions, then there is nothing to worry about. We are tough crowd here -- like to have good information up front so that we can get give good recommendations in return.

Posted by
2329 posts

If you have no pre-existing conditions then it’s not an issue. What is a pre-existing condition? Every insurance company has their own definition but it’s usually along the lines of something you have received medical care or been hospitalized for in the prior 6 months or are taking chronic medications for. So, if you have hypertension, don’t get a pre-existing condition waiver, have a stroke, they could deny your claim. Insurance companies are good at digging around for this information when faced with paying a large claim. On the topic of travel insurance overall, there are many threads on this board. I tend to overinsure so I may not be the best source. But I get medical coverage including a pre-existing waiver as I have a few chronic problems, evacuation coverage (most important to me) and trip cancellation for illness. A few folks have commented on health care being inexpensive in Europe but most of those comments have to do with an outpatient encounter. Wind up staying in a hospital and you’ll see some significant bills, maybe not as high as the US, but formidable nonetheless.

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you for your replies. This is my first time buying insurance, so still learning about all this. I will purchase a plan that covers trip cancellation, interruption, medical, accident, evacuation, etc. I will browse the board for other threads. My credit card covers trip cancellation/interruption, but not medical/accident/evacuation.

Posted by
2235 posts

Depending on various factors, travel insurance can get quite expensive. Factors might include how many people you are covering, ages, length and cost of trip, perhaps where you are going, and of course, what you are covering, as in trip cancellation, interruption or delay; lost or delayed baggage; medical care; emergency evacuation, etc. It's hard to make a firm decision about what you want to cover until you have an idea of the costs, and maybe the exceptions not covered. The Rick Steves company has a relationship with Travel Guard, and I have always found the customer service people at the Travel Guard toll-free number to be very helpful in answering questions, explaining benefits and prices, comparing plans, etc. even if you are not ready to commit to a purchase. I have used Travel Guard several times (luckily never made a claim) but found my costs going up. This year I am covered by a Berkshire Hathaway company, only covering medical and evacuation, and the cost is much, much lower (as in 90% lower). I figure the other things I can conceivably absorb, although gritting my teeth all the way. The web site InsureMyTrip.com can help to compare travel insurance plans, although the various plans may have nuanced differences beyond cost.

Posted by
20624 posts

.......I will purchase a plan that covers trip cancellation, interruption, medical, accident, evacuation, etc. I will browse the board for other threads. My credit card covers trip cancellation/interruption,........

You cannot double insure. So don't waste your money taking out trip cancellation, etc., insurance if your credit card covers it. Read the fine print carefully but most likely you find a clause that says if you have other insurance that covers the same situation then the other insurance is primary. It is in your credit card agreement. Since both view the other as primary, neither will pay. You have to be careful even with medical insurance. Make absolutely certain it is primary and not secondary or supplemental. Premium should run about 5% or a bit more of the dollar amount you are covering.

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you for your replies. Oh wow, didn't know about doubly insuring. I need to check into that. Maybe I just need insurance for medical, accident, evacuation like the poster above.

Posted by
5308 posts

Start with the basics -- does your regular medical insurance cover you outside the U.S. ? If yes, then you may not need additional travel medical coverage. (Note that you may have to pay medical costs up front and then get reimbursed by the insurer.)
Which of your prepaid costs are refundable and which non-refundable ? Insurance won't pay for anything you can get refunded.

For medical evacuation, some people like to buy stand-alone coverage like MedJet Assist.

Posted by
3136 posts

If your US based health insurance covers you overseas, you're good to go. There is no need for supplemental.

Next, what do you mean by missing the window for pre-existing conditions? I have diabetes. Before I had insurance that covered overseas travel, I picked GeoBlue Voyager Choice. It covers pre-existing conditions.

Maybe I just need insurance for medical, accident, evacuation like the
poster above.

Voyager Choice covers most everything (including dental!) except evacuation. If you're going to a remote area of the world, go to www.insuremytrip.com to find plans that cover that.

Posted by
485 posts

Also, you need to decide whether or not you need for the medical insurance to be your primary coverage when you are out of the country. Some coverages are secondary to your coverage in the US. In addition, Medicare A/B do not cover you outside of the US; your additional coverage like Plan F or G may cover you to an extent outside of the country. For most of our trips now, we carry $100,000 primary medical coverage with $500,000 in evacuation insurance.

I wont bore everyone with details, but a friend on mine's wife suffered cracked ribs in Peru, with medical treatment, transport from Cusco to Lima and hospital in both places +$25,000. If they had to get transportation home including medical personnel to escort her back to the states another $50,000. Fortunately they did not need that and some of the medical was covered by their policy. They did have to pay to have the medical records translated from Spanish to English.

You just need to do a little research on what you actually require for your trip.

Posted by
2762 posts

"what do you mean by missing the window for pre-existing conditions."?

continental, to have pre-existing conditions covered on a policy, it generally must be purchased within a certain short interval, like 14-21 days, after the first payment toward the trip. They missed that date. But since they don't have a ore-existing condition to cover it doesn't matter.

Posted by
3136 posts

continental, to have pre-existing conditions covered on a policy, it
generally must be purchased within a certain short interval, like
14-21 days, after the first payment toward the trip. They missed that
date. But since they don't have a ore-existing condition to cover it
doesn't matter.

I understand for them it doesn't matter.

Prior to having an HMO that covers int'l travel, I always purchased GeoBlue Voyager Choice. They define a pre-existing condition as the following:

Pre-existing Condition means any disease, illness, sickness, malady or
condition which was diagnosed or treated by a legally qualified
physician prior to the effective date of coverage with consultation,
advice or treatment by a legally qualified physician occurring within
6 months prior to the Coverage Date for the Covered Person.

This looks like legalese. I have diabetes that was diagnosed in 2003. I'm trying to figure out what they're talking about when they mention 6 months. Would any issue with diabetes have been covered?

Posted by
2329 posts

Continental: the short answer to your question is no, they would not have to cover any problem that they could tie back to diabetes as you had that and were getting treatment during 6 months prior to your enrollment in the insurance. It’s not legalese, it’s standard nomenclature. As you are aware, diabetes can get complicated. Should there be a health issue the company can tie back to diabetes and you do not have pre-existing condition coverage they will deny the claim. Or, they will pay the claim, turn it over to risk management who will dig deep for pre-existing illness, then they will re-coup what they have paid, and you will be billed.

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks for all the replies and helpful discussion. Questions:

1. So I looked around and it looks like all of the medical coverage provided is secondary. I haven't seen any primary medical, which means we would try to get reimbursed by our U.S. health plan first and then go to the travel insurance, am I right? My health plan covers only emergency urge care in Europe (anything that would constitute going to the emergency room).
2. Most evacuation coverages are secondary, too. Would that mean one has to go through their U.S. health plan first, too, before going to the travel insurance if the need for medical evacuation arises?
3. If the credit card's trip cancellation/interruption is secondary, are the travel insurance company's trip cancellation/interruption primary? They're not marked as secondary on insuremytrip.

Posted by
3262 posts

I'm like Alan.

"... I get medical coverage including a pre-existing waiver as I have a few chronic problems, evacuation coverage (most important to me) and trip cancellation for illness."

I want to be sure that my husband can fly over to accompany me home if needed and for "repatriation of remains," big box or small, should that be needed.

For anyone who thinks these kinds of coverages are only for the older set, I think it was on this forum where the story was told about a couple of young women going to the far east, renting a car, having a wreck and one of them being killed. I don't know if her remains ever made it home.

One more thing, the pre-existing condition doesn't mean just you. It also can cover your spouse or anyone else close to you whose health issues might prevent you from starting the trip or require you to return early.

Edited to add: My Travel Guard policy for the next trip says that the medical coverage is primary. This is their definition of primary. "“Primary” means the Company will pay first but reserves the right to recover from any other insurance carrier with which the Insured may be enrolled."

Posted by
107 posts

Thoughts/reviews on Travel Insured Worldwide? Looks like they have an option for primary medical coverage.

Posted by
107 posts

I'm looking at insurance that is $50 extra to make the medical insurance "primary." From what I understand, "secondary" medical insurance means you have to file with your work insurance first and then whatever they don't cover, you file with the travel insurance company. "Primary" means you go to the travel insurance directly, the benefit being you get your claim processed right away. Our work insurance only covers emergency room type situations. Is it better to get a primary vs. secondary medical insurance for a Europe tour for an extra $50?

Posted by
2329 posts

You need to get a better idea of what coverage you actually have through your employer based insurance. But, on the other hand, $50 is not a lot of money. And, these companies specialize in dealing with overseas medical care. When our daughter was incapacitated with a severe ankle sprain on our RS tour of Portugal we called our travel insurance and received a prompt callback from an RN who was there to navigate us through the health care system in Lisbon. I know my work health insurance would not have offered that.

Posted by
3136 posts

Continental: the short answer to your question is no, they would not
have to cover any problem that they could tie back to diabetes as you
had that and were getting treatment during 6 months prior to your
enrollment in the insurance. It’s not legalese, it’s standard
nomenclature. As you are aware, diabetes can get complicated. Should
there be a health issue the company can tie back to diabetes and you
do not have pre-existing condition coverage they will deny the claim.

That they restrict pre-existing conditions to those only diagnosed before 6 month of purchase makes the so-called coverage of pre-existing conditions a joke. That's why I pick an insurance policy that includes pre-existing coverage -- if there is a health issue due to my pre-existing condition of diabetes which I've had for 15 years.

Since you mentioned 'nomenclature', insurance companies should rename pre-existing coverage to "recently diagnosed pre-existing conditions". When you look at this comparison chart, there is NOTHING written on the Voyager Choice plan that the pre-existing condition must be diagnosed within 6 months of purchase. In the comparison with Voyager Essential, the pre-existing coverage restriction IS SPECIFIED; there is a 180 day exclusion. Why not also specify in that same space for Voyager Choice that coverage for pre-existing conditions is limited to a 6 month diagnosis prior to purchase? The appearance is that Voyager Essential has specified, limited pre-existing condition restriction of coverage but Voyager Choice has no restrictions.

As you essentially brought to light, only on page 9 of a 22 page PDF does pre-existing get defined as restricted to 6 months. Why hide that especially as Voyager Essential's restriction was highlighted on that chart? That's a deceptive way of doing business.

Posted by
2329 posts

If you read the pre existing definition it includes diagnosis or treatment. If your diabetes was diagnosed 10 years ago but you took a prescribed pill, shot, etc within the 6 months prior to the effective date, or even saw your doctor who advised you to lose weight and coded diabetes in your chart, it’s a pre existing condition. Then, unless you purchased a waiver to have pre existing conditions covered, your diabetes or condition related to diabetes is not covered for 180 days from the effective date of the policy.

Posted by
4687 posts

I'm really uncomfortable with the OP's apparent reliance on abbreviated and casual descriptions of coverages. For example, I just got an update for my United Airlines credit card. It appears to me that their travel insurance that's included with the card covers only expenses charged to the card, with various limits (like luggage and delay). They say, "not pre-existing", without limitation. So I don't see any way to get a waiver.

I want to note that no distinction has yet been made between the travelers' health and, say, the health of elderly parents. Inquiring about the third-party insurance I buy most often, Travelex, they told me that they don't care about pre-existing conditions of non-traveling family members, only of the travelers. (Please do not rely on this without making your own inquiries.)

There are a host of consumer issues that have not been discussed, like the credit-worthiness of the insuror, the difficulty of filing and successfully getting a claim paid, deadlines for making a claim, and amount of assistance when there is a problem after the trip commences. (Like getting admitted to a hospital, or getting a replacement air ticket on a high-demand route.) Many travel policies require that a slightly vague condition (buying travel insurance for the "full cost" of the trip in advance) be satisfied in order to get the pre-existing condition waiver. That COULD mean that you could get a denial if you only prepaid the first night of each hotel, for example. Or if you bought the last hotel after you paid for the insurance.

An online recommendation for such a complex product is not a sufficient basis for making a purchase decision. You have to read all 15 pages of their sample policy, and see how it matches up with your own RISKS. That's what insurance is about: What are my risks, and how much am I willing to pay to reduce or eliminate those risks.

Posted by
107 posts

"For example, I just got an update for my United Airlines credit card. It appears to me that their travel insurance that's included with the card covers only expenses charged to the card, with various limits (like luggage and delay). They say, "not pre-existing", without limitation. So I don't see any way to get a waiver."
Hi Tim, can you explain more on what pre-existing without limitations mean? Sorry, I want to understand better, thanks for your patience. And thank you for your concern, but I'm not so much relying on abbreviated and casual descriptions of coverage as I am asking questions because I'm new at this, and I'm thankful for all the information and insight I'm getting from all you helpful people on this forum. I've spent four days trying to research this topic and reading documents and calling companies and it's turning out more complex than I imagined!
Continental, what insurance do you purchase that has pre-existing conditions waiver?

Posted by
3136 posts

If your diabetes was diagnosed 10 years ago but you took a prescribed
pill, shot, etc within the 6 months prior to the effective date, or
even saw your doctor who advised you to lose weight and coded diabetes
in your chart, it’s a pre existing condition.

Obviously diabetes is a pre-existing condition. And, no, my doctor didn't tell me to lose weight; type 2 diabetics come in all sizes including me at 130 lbs with a height of 5'8". Stereotype a bit?

Then, unless you purchased a waiver to have pre existing conditions
covered, your diabetes or condition related to diabetes is not covered
for 180 days from the effective date of the policy.

The 180 day mention was on Voyager Essential (VE), a policy compared with Voyager Choice (VC) that was on the chart (which is a marketing piece) I included that illustrated that VE had a disclaimer about what defines pre-existing conditions coverage while Voyager Choice did not on that chart. The very notion of needing to purchase a waiver when VC is advertised on that marketing piece as NOT having any limits on pre-existing conditions as VE is shown to have is beyond deceptive.

Posted by
2329 posts

No stereotype intended, just trying to illustrate a point. And the Voyager Choice is a higher benefit policy that does cover pre existing conditions. You go on and on about deception but I have no clue what you are talking about. You are looking at 2 policies from the same company. One covers pre existing conditions, one does not. No opportunity to buy the one that does not and add a waiver, that is why they have the other one. If you want to broaden your horizons go to insuremytrip.com and you’ll see many more policies where, for the most part, pre existing conditions are covered if you pay the premium within 10 days of your initial payment toward your trip.

Posted by
607 posts

You have to read and understand all of the wordings in the Certificate of Insurance.

Usually, under ordinary travel medical coverage including under a premium credit card, you should have coverage for a "pre-existing medical condition" as long as it is "stable" for a period of time, usually 90 days, prior to the start of trip. For example, having diabetes for 10 years is obviously a "pre-existing medical condition". But as long as in the 90 days before the trip, the doctor did not increase your meds or order a new test or your A1C did not increase, the condition is "stable" and you should be covered under the ordinary policy. On the other hand, if it is not stable, you have the option to travel without coverage or pay extra to cover that medical condition. At least that is my understanding, fwiw.

As I said at the start, you need to read and understand all of the wordings. Instead of relying on the advice of strangers posting on the internet (including me), you should take this info and consult with an insurance agent.