The most common mistake made by travelers with medical conditions is missing an all-important deadline for buying insurance to cover their pre-existing illness, simply because they don’t know such a deadline exists, warns Squaremouth.com, America’s fastest-growing website for travel insurance.
In fact, as soon as the first payment is made toward a cruise, tour, hotel room, or airfare, even with frequent flier miles, the proverbial clock starts ticking.
From that ‘deposit date’ forward, travelers typically are given from nine to 30 calendar days, depending on the policy, to purchase travel insurance, or their pre-existing condition won’t be covered.
“Travelers make that first payment, sometimes months in advance, in the belief they can wait to buy travel insurance for a heart condition, diabetes, or recent surgery,” said Chris Harvey, chief executive of Squaremouth.com.
“Actually, with a few exceptions, pre-existing medical coverage is only available for a short time.”
CSA Travel Protection and HTH Worldwide plans are the exception to the rule when it comes to deadlines. Most of their plans cover pre-existing conditions if the insurance is purchased within 24 hours of the final trip payment, regardless of the deposit date.
Coverage of pre-existing medical conditions is one of the most frequently discussed categories of travel insurance, a trend driven in part by an aging generation of well traveled baby boomers.
“Arming travelers with knowledge is the single best way to protect their trip investment.” Harvey said.
Squaremouth’s top tips for pre-existing medical coverage:
Money down starts the clock: Whether a trip is paid in installments or all at once, that initial payment counts as the critical ‘deposit date.’ It means there is anywhere from nine to 30 days to buy insurance that will cover a pre-existing medical condition.
No need to pay more: As long as insurance is bought within the set time, coverage of a pre-existing condition doesn’t cost anything extra because it isn’t considered a policy upgrade.
Shop insurance before booking the trip: Even if the trip isn’t booked yet and no deposit has been made, it’s still possible to buy insurance and enter a deposit date of today or in the future. This affords time to shop ahead and understand what all the options are.
What is ‘pre-existing’: It is important to know what a pre-existing condition is. Travel insurance carriers use a ‘look-back period’ to make this determination. They normally look back 60 or 180 days from the effective date to see if there has been any treatment or advice from a physician. However, if a medical condition has been completely stable, with no change in medication during this time, it is not considered pre-existing.
Pregnancy is excluded: Routine pregnancy isn’t covered by travel insurance, it’s often specifically excluded, and isn’t considered a ‘pre-existing condition.’ However, an unforeseen complication of pregnancy does qualify for coverage.
Other medical conditions are still covered: Missing the deadline for pre-existing conditions doesn’t void all medical claims. A policy holder will still be covered for health emergencies that don’t involve the pre-existing condition.
Squaremouth is America’s fastest growing travel insurance comparison site, helping customers instantly quote, compare and buy policies from every major carrier. Squaremouth has web sites in the US and UK, and an extensive network of partner sites worldwide. The company is headquartered in St Pete Beach, FL., with offices in Fort Wayne, IN. Visit Squaremouth.com or Squaremouth.co.uk.
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