We get a lot of requests for reviews of pre-existing condition travel insurance for Canadians. It’s no wonder so many Canadians are asking; trying to get a travel insurance policy with a pre-existing condition like diabetes, heart disease or cancer can be tricky.
So what’s someone with a pre-existing condition, who wants to travel, supposed to do? There is some good news. We’ve dug deep and and found policies that provide travel insurance for Canadians with pre existing conditions, or that have a short stability period.
In this review of travel insurance for Canadians with pre-existing conditions, we compare policies and rates for a two week vacation to the United States for a single traveler, aged 55. We got all rates and information in 2016.
Tip! Most travel medical policies require that any pre-existing condition is stable and controlled (as per the policy definitions for stable and controlled), for a specific amount of time (called the stability period, or the lookback period), before they’ll insure you.
How much you pay, and whether you can get travel insurance at all, depends on the type of illness you have, how long it’s been stable, how long since your diagnosis, and other factors. For a more detailed look at pre-existing conditions, check out our article Is My Pre-Existing Condition Covered Under My Travel Insurance?
There are two primary ways to get travel insurance for a pre-existing condition:
- Get a standard medical insurance policy with a short stability period. This may work if your condition has been stable for 90 days, but there are a few policies that have shorter stability periods. As of the time of writing, TuGo has a single trip policy that has a short 7 day stability period, if you’re age 59 or under, and travel for less than 35 days.
- Get a travel insurance policy with an additional insurance rider or option that gives you a minimal (or no) pre-existing condition stability period. You’re probably going to need to pick up the phone to get one of these, and pay a higher premium.
We also take a quick look at emergency medical evacuation-only policies (with no emergency medical insurance), most of which don’t require a pre-existing condition stability period.
Policies with short pre-existing condition stability periods
If you’re lucky enough that your medical condition has been stable for 90 days, you can probably get travel insurance with most travel insurance companies. Be careful, though as some companies and policies require as long as a 180 day or longer stability period!
However, if your medical condition hasn’t been stable as long as the required stability period (usually 90 days), you can still get get most standard emergency medical travel insurance policies. Just be aware that most policies will not pay for any claims arising directly, or indirectly, from your pre-existing medical condition.
That said, the policy should protect against all other accidents not related to that condition. Make sure you check your individual policy carefully, as some policies will not pay any claims, even if they aren’t related to your pre-existing medical condition!
Tip: Some medical conditions won’t be covered at all under most travel insurance policies, even if they’re stable, like kidney dialysis or terminal illnesses.
TuGo has one of the shortest stability periods out there for pre-existing conditions. For our example (a single man, age 55, traveling for 2 weeks to the USA), the stability period was only seven days! This is, by far, the shortest stability period we found among the major insurers we looked at.
However, with the TuGo policies, stability periods increase depending on your trip length and your age, so check your policy and quote carefully, especially if you’re traveling for over 35 days or 60 years of age or older.
TuGo gave us a quote for $40.64 for their Emergency Medical Worldwide plan, for $5 million in emergency medical coverage and a $300 deductible, with a 7 day stability period.
Kanetix.ca lets you compare Canadian travel insurance quotes online in just minutes. They give free, no obligation quotes from more than 30 insurance companies.
Since KANETIX pulls up quotes for different policies, you’ll need to compare plans to see the pre-existing condition stability periods. To do this, click the compare plans button, and scroll down.
We got quotes with the following pre-existing condition stability periods on Kanetix:
- TourMed 90 days (60 days for high blood pressure), $37.90, $5 million emergency medical coverage
- PC Insurance 90 to 180 days, $42.00, unlimited emergency medical coverage. Important: While PC financial no longer offers travel insurance, we’ve kept this information just for reference purposes.
- GMS 180 days, $42.98, $5 million emergency medical coverage
- Allianz, 90 days, $53.34, $10 million emergency medical coverage
- RSA, 90 days, $60.20, $5 million emergency medical coverage
To learn more, go to Kanetix.ca.
Travel Insurance Specialists
It took a lot of digging to find a company that offers a short pre-existing condition period online, but Travel Insurance Specialists does offer the option to buy down your pre-existing conditions stability period to seven days on their Due South Plus Medical Plan,
We got a quote for $77.35 for a policy with a seven day pre-existing condition stability period rider, with $2 million in emergency medical coverage. For a 120 day pre-existing condition policy, the cost was $59.50. The policy is underwritten by Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc., and Travel Insurance Specialists are members of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.
Squaremouth is a travel insurance quote search engine that’s best known in the USA, though they do offer policies for Canadian residents. We looked at Squaremouth because they’re the only quote comparison site we know of that will let you filter your results to include only results for policies that allow for pre-existing conditions.
For our traveler, using Squaremouth’s pre-existing condition filter gave us a travel insurance policy from Trawick International quoted at $52.95, which would cover only $1,000 of medical expenses for a “sudden, unexpected recurrence of a Pre-existing Condition while traveling outside the Covered Person’s Home Country.”
$1,000 doesn’t get you very far with medical care in the USA, but it may be worth getting a quote comparison from Squaremouth anyway, as new policies come out all the time, and you may be eligible for better policies than our hypothetical traveler. The policy we were quoted covered only $50,000 in emergency medical care (while most Canadian policies cover at least a $1 million), and had $2 million in emergency medical transport and repatriation.
World Escapade often gives us some of our cheapest quotes for travel insurance. Their quote was $62.44, a 90 day pre-existing condition stability period, and $5 million emergency medical insurance.
Click to learn more about World Escapade.
You need to be under age 60 to get insurance with World Nomads. We love their fast, easy online quote system.
The World Nomads quote was 102.24, and $5 million emergency medical insurance. The high cost reflects the fact that their policies all include trip cancellation, trip interruption, and luggage insurance.
Learn more about World Nomads here now.
You must be under age 50 to get travelcuts insurance, so we got a quote for a traveler aged 50, just for comparison’s sake. The travelcuts quote was $34.20, a pre-existing stability period of 90 days, and $1 million emergency medical insurance.
CARP Travel insurance
CARP Travel insurance is sold by by an organization representing seniors, so we thought they might offer shorter pre-existing condition stability periods.
We found their pre-existing period stability periods fairly standard. We were quoted $67.57, a pre-existing stability period of 90 days, and $5 million in emergency medical coverage. If our quote had been for a senior aged 72 or older, the pre-existing stability period would have been up to two years. You can learn more about CARP travel insurance here.
Policies with a minimal (or no) pre-existing condition stability period
If you’re looking for travel insurance that will cover a pre-exisiting condition, with a minimal (or no) stability period, you’re probably going to have to pick up the phone to get a personalized information. We found a few companies that offer an optional insurance rider for pre-existing conditions, though you’ll probably have to pay a higher premium. You’ll need to call each one individually to get details on coverage.
It took a considerable amount of digging, but we’ve found PrimeLink TravelSense, a travel insurance plan that’s designed specifically to cover fully-disclosed pre-existing conditions without a stability clause. It’s underwritten by Manulife Financial.
When you fill out the application online, you’ll need to declare your pre-existing conditions. They make it easy by having a list of common pre-existing conditions to choose from, and search form to help you find less common conditions.
Important! You must declare your pre-existing medical condition on their required medical declaration in order to be covered for that condition. The policies will not will not pay any expenses or benefits relating to a pre-existing condition that you have NOT specified on your medical declaration.
There are also some conditions that will mean that you can’t be covered by the TravelSense plan, including kidney dialysis, AIDS, and (importantly) if a physician has “recommended any testing, investigation, or surgical procedure which has not yet been performed or for which you are awaiting results”.
We got a quote online for $36.44 for $5 million emergency medical coverage, with no stability period for pre-existing medical conditions. Your price will depend on the type of pre-existing condition you have, your age, and other factors.
Tip! Make sure you choose the PrimeLink TravelSense plan. PrimeLink offers other plans, including the PrimeLink Universal PrimeLink Quick Issue, but these do not cover disclosed pre-existing conditions without a stability clause.
You can learn more about PrimeLink here.
BCAA travel insurance is only available to travellers who live in, and are departing from, British Columbia. You don’t need to be a BCAA member to get travel insurance. However, BCAA is rare in that there’s a pre-existing medical condition waiver online.
BCAA offers travel insurance with a seven day pre-existing condition stability period rider.
Our quote was $43.23 for a policy with a 7 day stability period for pre-existing medical conditions with a $200,000 in additional medical emergency coverage for an unstable pre-existing medical condition. It includes $10 million in emergency medical travel insurance with a $500 deductible. You can add on trip cancellation, interruption and baggage insurance for an additional $53.00.
Other CAA clubs
We checked the Alberta CAA, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO), and Manitoba CAA travel insurance sites and couldn’t find an option for pre-existing condition coverage.
Manulife offers a TravelEase® for Canadians with Medical Conditions plan. There’s information here, or you can call to get more information at 1-855-583-7239.
If you have a pre-existing condition that isn’t covered by Medipac’s normal plans, Medipac offers individual underwritten, personalized insurance policies. There’s information here.
We wrote directly to Medipac, and they say they can “waive a policy exclusion for an unstable pre-existing condition that would otherwise be excluded under the terms of the Medipac policy; either because of instability in the 90 days prior to the start of coverage or hospitalization or emergency room visits in the 12 months prior to the start of coverage.” Prices and eligibility can vary, and there’s a premium surcharge.
You have to call 1-888-MEDIPAC and ask for an Individual Underwritten Application to apply.
CIBC does offer an option for you to apply to have pre-existing conditions covered. Depending on your age, you will need to answer a health-related questionnaire over the phone or complete and sign a Medical Questionnaire. You have to call 1-800-281-9109 and ask to apply to have pre-existing conditions covered.
RBC, BMO and RSA
We looking into RBC, BMO and RSA travel insurance, and none of the these offer specific optional riders or coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Emergency air transport and repatriation
It’s possible to get travel insurance that just offers emergency air transport to a hospital of your choice, usually in Canada. While we wouldn’t recommend this, it may be worth looking into if you absolutely need to travel, and you’re worried that a pre-existing condition may leave you without medical coverage.
The companies we mention below offer emergency air transport; some also offer emergency evac.
Medjet is not traditional emergency medical travel insurance. Instead, Medjet Assist offers air medical transport to the hospital of your choice in your home country, if you are hospitalized more than 150 miles away from home.
Medjet quoted $140 for a 15-day MedjetAssist Short-Term plan. The Medjet Assist Short Term Membership Program is for residents of Canada up to age 75. There are no health questions, deductibles or claim forms required, and no dollar limit.
Tip: To learn more about the policy, you’ll need to find the Short Term Plans page, click the little circle next to Short-Term Membership, and then click Next Page at the bottom of the page.
Important: Medjet does not cover any medical expenses when you’re initially hospitalized; it only covers emergency medical transport back home. Air medical transport services require that you’re hospitalized as an inpatient and need hospitalization upon reaching your destination.
Similar to Medjet Assist, International SOS membership gives you no emergency medical insurance, but you do get emergency medical evacuation insurance. We were quoted $115 USD for their Global Traveler plan, which gave $1 million in Emergency Medical Evacuation, Medically Supervised Repatriation, and Repatriation of Remains insurance. This did not include any emergency medical insurance.
Frontier MedEx offers coverage for emergency medical evacuation. The company quoted us $75.90 for $100,000 in emergency medical evacuation and emergency medical insurance, however Frontier MedEx required a steep 12 month pre-existing condition stability period.
You should know
- Policies and coverage can change at any time, without warning.
- This article is only intended as general advice. Please check your own policy carefully.
*As always, the information on this page is from one Canadian traveller to another. We have spent years abroad and have gotten to know the ins and outs of the industry however we are not travel insurance agents. If you have any travel insurance questions, please talk to a qualified travel insurance agent or broker. Finally, policies and plans can and do change all the time, without warning, so always consult your insurance policy since that is the legal document to which you are agreeing to.
*This article is only intended as general advice. Please check your own policy carefully.