New research by Comparetravelinsurance.com.au found that nearly one in two Australian travellers don’t know which pre-existing conditions to declare when buying travel insurance, which could leave them uninsured.
A pre-existing condition typically pertains to any medical or physical condition, defect, disease, or illness of which the traveller is aware of, and for which treatment, medication, investigation, surgery or advice has been received.
Findings showed that up to 22% of Australians said they would only declare conditions “they consider relevant” while a further 41% say they weren’t aware which conditions they had to declare.
“These findings show that a vast number of Australians risk travelling without sufficient cover,” said Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au. “In the event that you require hospitalisation or emergency assistance, travellers who haven’t disclosed their prior medical conditions could be uninsured and therefore liable for tens of thousands in medical costs.”
Meanwhile, a recent study by Smart Traveller revealed that 23% of Australians assumed the government would cover medical and repatriation costs in the event of a medical emergency – a misconception that puts travellers at enormous financial risk.
Ball said failing to reveal travellers’ condition(s) to their insurer, would not only make them liable for any medical costs they incur overseas, it could also potentially jeopardize their cover altogether.
“You have a duty of disclosure,” Ball said. “By knowingly withholding crucial information your insurer may choose not to cover any of your travel expenses, full stop.”
To ensure they are covered, Ball said travellers should list any recent condition they can remember attending to, such as diagnosed heart related conditions, lung disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, mental illness, pregnancy complications, epilepsy, irritable bowel disease, joint replacements, and cancer.
“Most insurers define a pre-existing condition fairly broadly,” Ball said. “In simple terms, if you have sought medical attention for it at any time, it may be worth declaring. Our best advice would be to speak to your insurer and be as transparent as possible. Answer all questions and check with your doctor if you have to.”