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Martin Lewis travel insurance pre-existing medical conditions

In this guide, our independent insurance experts are looking at what Martin Lewis has to say about travel insurance for people who have pre-existing medical conditions. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, there is usually a higher risk of requiring medical treatment while away, or needing to cancel your trip due to your health. Having the right travel insurance policy can help you to save a significant amount of money, if something unexpected happens while abroad.

Money Man Martin Lewis Shares His Advice On Holiday Insurance and Mortgage Rates | This Morning
  • Online customer reviews (from sites like Trustpilot)
  • Industry ratings (e.g. Defaqto scores)
  • Value for money
  • Policy features and benefits

It can be difficult to work out which travel insurance company and policy will work best for you, and people with pre-existing conditions should think about applying through a medical travel insurance specialist to ensure that they get a suitable level of cover.

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60-Second Summary – Martin Lewis Travel Insurance Pre-existing Medical Conditions

Martin Lewis often recommends travel insurance as a must have for UK consumers who are going on holiday. Travel insurance provides financial protection in case anything unexpected goes wrong before or during your trip.

  • Martin Lewis highlights the importance of buying your policy as soon as you’ve booked your holiday for the highest level of protection, in case you become ill or inured and cannot travel.
  • While you might be able to get a traditional travel insurance policy, chances are it won’t provide cover (or won’t have enough cover) for your medical conditions. This is why specialist policies and providers will usually be a better option (and can normally offer fairer prices).
  • There will be extra things to think about when buying travel insurance with pre-existing conditions such as if you need cover for medication or medical equipment. The easiest option will always be to talk to a travel insurance expert who can work which insurers will offer the right level of cover for your specific medical condition.

About Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis CBE is a well-known financial journalist in the UK. His opinion is highly thought of as he is believed to be an expert in financial matters such as insurance policies, mortgages, tax, benefits and more.

Martin Lewis often appears on TV shows such as This Morning and Good Morning Britain to discuss finances and current events. He also has his own ITV finance programme ‘The Martin Lewis Money Show’. Martin previously co-hosted this with Saira Khan and now presents the show alongside Angellica Bell.

Mr Lewis has been involved in some brilliant campaigns to improve awareness of financial issues and treatment of UK consumers. Some of his best known work was his campaign against mis sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).

What is MoneySavingExpert?

Martin Lewis founded MoneySavingExpert.com for just £100 back in February 2003. MSE has grown massively in the 20 years since then, becoming a trusted source for information about topics such as insurance, mortgages and more.

The website provides free financial advice, interesting articles and a forum for members to share their own finance tips. There are literally hundreds of finance guides available to read on MoneySavingExpert about topics like:

A list displaying the services available on MoneySavingExpert.com

As a financial expert, Martin Lewis is often asked about his views on various insurance products including travel insurance. He has been interviewed on many TV and radio shows about this topic including ITV’s This Morning.

Holiday Tips – Get Travel Insurance as Soon as You Book | This Morning

In this interview, Martin Lewis stresses the importance of buying your policy as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.

In the scenario he mentions, a woman has booked a holiday and then been diagnosed with breast cancer. She then cannot get a refund for a holiday she will now have to miss due to treatment because she planned to buy her travel insurance closer to the time.

Martin Lewis travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions

Martin Lewis is not an insurance provider or broker and so does not sell travel insurance policies himself. He does however give his opinion about travel insurance and key things to watch out for via his website MoneySavingExpert.com.

MoneySavingExpert has many articles surrounding travel insurance and one more in depth guide about how to get travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. We do think it is strange there isn’t more content surrounding pre-existing conditions and travel insurance on MSE, as so many people in the UK will have some form of medical condition or family history.

MoneySavingExpert does have a forum section where MSE members can discuss financial issues and gain advice from other members. Pre-existing conditions travel insurance is mentioned within this section and members often signpost to specific providers they have found helpful as well as charities for the medical condition mentioned.

Is it better to get specialist travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?

On MSE’s pre-existing conditions travel insurance page, they state the 3 main ways for someone with medical conditions to find suitable travel insurance.

1) Use comparison sites

We don’t agree with this point, as often comparison sites will not point you to the right provider for your condition and will focus on the cheapest option. Of course, price will be a consideration for travel insurance but for someone with medical conditions it’s often better to pay slightly more and be certain that you have the right level of cover.

In fairness to MSE, they do state this is usually an option for people with conditions that insurers will deem ‘less serious’. However, if you are not familiar with the provider’s views and processes it won’t always be easy for a consumer to know what is or isn’t ‘serious’.

Travel insurance companies will also have varying views on this which can make things more complicated. MSE recommend various comparison sites including MoneySupermarket (which owns MoneySavingExpert.com).

2) Look at specialist medical travel insurance companiess

For more serious or complex medical conditions, MSE recommends trying a specialist travel insurance company.

This is often a much better option for someone with conditions such as heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis and more. MSE recommends several providers like:

(They recommend these providers in particular as they receive commission from sales)

One thing they say which we fully agree with is that it is usually helpful to get multiple quotes and compare. This means you are able to get a full picture of the options available to you, so you can choose the policy that works best for you.

3) Speak to an experienced insurance broker

The best option for someone with serious medical conditions or multiple medical conditions is to get some advice from an expert.

A medical travel insurance expert will be able to point you to the best provider for the type of cover you need (e.g. Europe or Worldwide) based on your medical history and how much cover is needed.

Talking to a broker with the right experience and background can help save you hours in searching through quotes yourself. They will usually be able to find an affordable policy with the right level of cover by asking a few quick and easy questions about your health and your trip.

Our expert travel insurance partners can find a range of great policies for people with medical conditions at the best possible prices.

Medical Travel Compared logo

Medical Travel Compared

Our trusted partners Medical Travel Compared provide high quality travel insurance with the best and cheapest quotes for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Medical Travel Compared is one of the UK’s leading pre-existing medical conditions travel insurance specialists. You can get a medical travel insurance quote online if you CLICK HERE.

Most people will have little to no issue getting travel insurance that provides the right level of cover for a fair price. It can be more complicated to find the right travel cover when you have medical conditions, but an expert will be able to explain everything you need to know.

The main thing to remember is that while you might be able to get a traditional travel insurance policy, chances are it won’t provide cover (or won’t have enough cover) for your medical condition.

This is particularly true if you have a serious condition like cancer or a heart condition. Some mainstream providers may offer up to a certain level of cover, but often your best choice will be to look at a specialist policy.

Travel Insurance provider reviews

MSE Travel insurance need-to-knows

One helpful thing on MoneySavingExpert is they will often include a ‘need-to-knows’ list on their pages. This covers a range of important points related to the topic – in this case pre-existing conditions travel insurance.

Here are the main points to help you figure out which travel insurance option is best for you PLUS things to look out for and avoid.

1) Book travel insurance as soon as your trip is booked

The reason this is suggested is to help you avoid losing money if your holiday is cancelled or you become ill and can’t travel. They refer to buying travel insurance immediately as buying travel insurance ASAB (As Soon As you’ve Booked).

This is definitely something that we agree with. It’s not worth holding off and waiting until right before you go before you buy your travel insurance. It’s not likely to be cheaper and you may end up losing a lot of money if something happens that affects your holiday before you’ve left.

2) Always declare medical conditions (so you get the right cover)

You shouldn’t risk not mentioning medical conditions when you apply, especially if it is a serious condition like cancer or a condition like diabetes that requires ongoing care. If you end up needing treatment on holiday, you won’t be covered for this.

If you don’t mention your medical history, you could face massive bills for hospital treatment while abroad. In a country like America this could be thousands of £s that you would have to try and pay for with no support.

Note: Every insurer will have their own ‘list’ which states which conditions they consider to be serious. If you aren’t sure which insurer is best to cover your medical condition, you can speak to an expert for advice and guidance.

3) Make sure you’re actually covered for where you’re going

Something that most people won’t be aware of is that providers generally classify travel insurance as having Europe or Worldwide coverage. While you might assume this means anything outside of Europe is ‘Worldwide’ this isn’t always the case.

Certian providers will class countries near to Europe (E.g. Morocco) as being eligible for European cover. You should check this with your provider, as Worldwide cover is usually more expensive due to the higher cost of medical care in countries like America.

Note: Believe it or not some insurers won’t cover Spain, Canary Islands or Balearic islands as part of European cover. Anyone travelling to these destinations should be careful to make sure they are covered or risk having invalid travel insurance.

4) It can be cheaper to buy single trip cover (but not always)

Annual policies can be more expensive for people who have medical conditions. They will usually cost slightly more anyway as they cover you for multiple trips within 12 months.

Generally, it’s cheaper to get a single trip policy – but if you are travelling a lot over the next year multi trip cover can sometimes work out cheaper overall. The best thing to do is get quotes for both and compare pricing and what you are covered for before making any decisions.

5) You might not want to choose a family or group policy

These policies will be priced based on the ‘highest risk’ member of the group. This may be the person who is oldest or someone with medical conditions. This could mean that everyone ends up paying more than they need to.

If one of you is over 65 or has a medical condition, you should check if a separate policy for this person will work out cheaper. Our excellent travel insurance partners are medical travel cover specialists and can find the best cover with no age limits.

6) Get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

Global Health Insurance Cards are free to apply for and will help cover the costs of treatment in state-run (non private) EU hospitals. This can be really useful but shouldn’t be seen as a free alternative to travel insurance.

These cards have been designed to work alongside travel insurance and aren’t a replacement for it. They only help with medical costs, whereas travel insurance will also protect against events like cancellations, lost luggage and more.

Note: The Global Health Insurance card has been brought in to replace the old European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

7) Check if you already have travel insurance

Some banks will include benefits like travel insurance as a bonus of being their customer. You may already have travel insurance and have no clue. If you have a milder medical condition, this might offer you enough cover without having to pay an extra penny.

For someone with more serious medical conditions, your bank probably won’t offer a high enough level of cover. Check what their travel policies include and do some research to see if you’re better to buy a separate policy instead.

Certain health insurance policies will include (or allow you to add on) cover for emergency medical expenses while on holiday. While this won’t cover everything, it can be useful in some situations.

8) Some activities can require specialist cover

Higher risk activities like skiing and other winter sports will usually require a higher level of cover. The good news is that there are specific policies like winter sports cover that are designed with this in mind.

Winter sports cover will insure you for accidents, slope closures and even medical costs if you injure someone else.

Similarly you can opt for cruise cover, if a cruise is the next big trip you have planned. This covers cruise specific events like itinerary changes or unused day trips.

9) You’ll need proof if you’re claiming for cancellation

If your flight is cancelled, it is the airline that should refund you or offer an alternative flight. This means you need to approach them first to try and get your money back and insurers class these as ‘recoverable costs’.

How to claim on travel insurance

If something unexpected happens while you’re on holiday, you will be able to submit an insurance claim. This allows you to claim back the cost of things such as:

  • Lost luggage
  • Delayed flights
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Lost or stolen medication

There are 5 steps MoneySavingExpert suggests that you follow if you need to claim on your policy:

  • Submit your claim as soon as you can – try not to delay submitting your claim. You should contact your provider as soon as possible if something goes wrong while you are away.
  • Make sure medical claims are accepted BEFORE getting treatment – this is an important one. If you need medical treatment and it’s not an emergency, it’s best to check if you’re actually covered for this before you get stuck with the bill.
  • You MUST tell the police about theft or loss – if you lose something valuable you will need proof. Many providers will request to see a crime reference number or your claim may be rejected.
  • Don’t bin your receipts – or you could lose out. Some providers will let you claim for things like additional food expenses while your flight is delayed. It’s best to keep hold of all your receipts if you’re not 100% sure what you can claim for.
  • ALWAYS complain if you’ve been mistreated – don’t let it go. If you think you have had a claim denied that shouldn’t have been, complain to your provider. You can also take things further by contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service for more help.

How to complain about travel insurance

As Martin Lewis’ team at MSE states, some insurance companies will have a better reputation and claims record than others.

You might have a great experience with a provider other people have found poor in terms of customer service or you could struggle with an provider who is generally well reviewed. If you’re not happy with your travel insurance policy or provider, you can submit a complaint.

As insurance companies are heavily regulated, they should have a set complaints procedure in place. Your best first move is to contact the insurance company (usually their contact details will be available on their website).

Providers don’t want to be known for making mistakes or having bad customer service. They will normally try and resolve complaints quickly. If they are taking too long or you’re not happy with the way your complaint is handled, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for guidance and support.

Financial Ombudsman Service Logo

Making a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an impartial and free service for financial services customers in the UK. This service can be used to settle any disputes between life insurance companies and their customers in the United Kingdom. If they feel that you have suffered any financial loss as a result of your life insurance policy, then they may rule for compensation to be awarded.

Telephone – 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Telephone (outside the UK) – 0207 964 0500

Emailcomplaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk

If you are struggling to find travel insurance at a reasonable price, there are a few options available to you. You should speak to an expert medical travel insurance broker if you are having a hard time finding the right policy.

A specialist will know which providers are most likely to provide the right level of cover for your medical condition – and at a fair cost.

If you are still not able to find the right policy, there are organisations available that can offer help. The British Insurance Broker’s Association specialises in this area.

British Insurance Broker's Association (BIBA) Logo

Struggling to find travel insurance?

There are certain options and support mechanisms that are available to you if you’re struggling to find travel insurance. One of the bodies to support consumers with travel insurance is the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) which covers all insurance services in the United Kingdom.

BIBA provides a Find Insurance service that allows you to search for a recommended member who might be able to help you.

Telephone (Insurance Help) – 0370 950 1790

Telephone (General Enquiries) – 0344 7700 266

Emailenquiries@biba.org.uk

Here are some of the frequently asked travel insurance questions answered on MoneySavingExpert plus some we often get asked by our customers.

What pre-existing conditions do I need to declare for travel insurance?

Insurers will ask a few simple medical questions when you apply for travel cover.

This will usually relate to any conditions you have had treatment for or experienced symptoms of in the last 5 years.   It’s best to declare your medical history to avoid your cover being invalid and not paying out later on.

You will need to mention if you are waiting on test results or treatment for a condition as well.


Can you get travel insurance that excludes pre-existing conditions?

YES – most standard travel insurance policies won’t cover you for pre-existing medical conditions. They may have a limited amount of cover for medical emergencies.

This won’t usually provide sufficient cover for people with serious conditions such as cancer, stroke or MS.


What happens if I don’t declare a pre-existing condition on travel insurance?

If you have a medical condition when you buy travel insurance and don’t mention it, you risk your policy not paying out when you need it to.

If you become ill abroad due to your condition or something related, the insurer may refuse to pay out if you didn’t tell them about the condition when you applied.


Is it worth buying expensive travel insurance?

You don’t need to buy travel insurance that is really expensive. The key is to find the policy that offers the benefits you need and the right level of cover.

You should check carefully what the policy will cover you for, especially if you are paying a lot for it.


What if I get diagnosed with a condition after buying a travel insurance policy?

It’s best to tell your insurer about your new condition – as otherwise you won’t be covered for it.

If you were to fall ill and need treatment while away, in this situation it’s likely that the insurer won’t cover the cost. It’s better to be safe than sorry and ultimately not worth not telling the insurer.


Do I need a doctor’s note to prove I am fit to travel?

Some insurers will want to see a doctor’s note or ‘fit note’ before they will agree to offer travel insurance. This is to give them reassurance that you are well enough to travel


Is pregnancy a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance?

NO – pregnancy isn’t classed as a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance.

Most insurers would pay out if you needed treatment or experienced pregnancy complications while abroad. It may be worth checking with your doctor that you are fit to travel before your trip though.

Here are a few important things to think about when searching for travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions.

  • Type of cover – what type of travel cover do you need? Single trip or annual? The policy type will affect the price and what works best for one person may not be the best choice for someone else
  • Do you want cover for an acute or chronic medical condition? – Insurers may view one off (acute) conditions like a heart attack differently to long term (chronic) conditions like multiple sclerosis. You may also need to cover additional things with a chronic condition such as medications, walking aids etc. in case they are lost or stolen.
  • How much cover do you need and how much can you afford? – it’s a good idea to consider your budget and what you need cover for before you apply. This can help you narrow down your options.

The best option for someone with medical conditions will be to speak to a medical travel insurance expert. An insurance expert with the right knowledge will know which insurers work well for someone in your situation.

This can help to prevent you from spending far more than you need to or ending up with travel cover that isn’t suitable or won’t pay out when you need it to.

Related articles

To find out more about Martin Lewis’ opinions on insurance policies, we have these handy guides that explain everything for you:

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What does Martin Lewis say about travel insurance?

Martin Lewis provides lots of guidance for holidaymakers who are searching for the best deals on their travel insurance. One of the biggest recommendations from Martin Lewis travel insurance advice is ‘ASAB’ (As Soon As you Book), which basically translates to suggesting that you should buy your travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.

In an interview on This Morning talking to Martin Lewis about travel insurance, he claims that he is constantly being asked by consumers, “what can I do if I’ve been diagnosed with a medical problem and I can’t go on holiday because my travel company won’t give me a refund?”. According to Martin Lewis travel insurance recommendations, 50% of the value of your travel insurance cover is before you are due to travel.

Top reasons for holiday cancellations before travelling:

  • Sickness or illness
  • Accidents causing an injury
  • Emergency at home
  • Family emergency
  • Work commitments
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Martin Lewis Travel Insurance - iam|INSURED

Is it worth taking out travel insurance?

Almost all financial experts such as Martin Lewis and citizensadvice.org.uk, strongly recommend that you take out a travel insurance policy and that you do it quickly. The financial and emotional impact of not having travel insurance while overseas can be catastrophic if you require medical treatment or if you are victim of a crime.

The cost of travel insurance is generally affordable for most holidaymakers and you should factor this in to the cost of your holiday. Risking not having travel insurance and then having a medical emergency when you are overseas, especially in certain destinations, can cost you thousands.

What does travel insurance cover?

Most travel insurance policies will provide the same core elements such as medical emergencies, repatriation, legal expenses, loss, theft or damage to personal belongings, and cancellation or curtailment of your trip. The types and levels of cover can vary dramatically from one policy to another so you should make sure that you’re getting the cover that you want and that you need.

Also, some travel insurance policies won’t cover you for certain destinations, activities or types of holidays, such as:

  • Cruise holidays
  • Winter sports
  • Worldwide travel
  • Pre-existing medical conditions

Note: Travel insurance will generally exclude any accident or injury that has happened whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What is classed as a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance?

According to one of the UK’s top travel insurance providers, Staysure clearly states that ‘you must declare ALL pre-existing medical conditions when your take out a travel insurance policy’. Witholding any information about your health or medical history could expose you to the risks of rendering your cover invalid and therefore class any claims as ‘null and void’.

Any of the following pre-existing conditions must always be disclosed on your travel insurance application:

  • Cardiovascular conditions (e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease etc.)
  • Cancer(s)
  • Any Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

You should also let your travel insurance provider know about any of the following medical investigations, tests or treatments in the past two years:

  • Symptoms (whether or not you have consulted a doctor)
  • Medication or treatments
  • Scans or investigations
  • Medical appointments and check-ups
  • Surgery
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How much should I spend on travel insurance?

According to a recent travel insurance survey carried out by Forbes Advisor’s Analysis (Average cost of travel insurance 2023), the average cost of travel insurance is between 5% and 6% of the cost of your trip.

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