Obtaining travel insurance can be a daunting task even without having to worry whether you will be covered for any complications due to a disability.
You have to read the policy carefully (even the fine print!) become familiarized with all the travel insurance jargon, and then decide whether a policy will suit your needs or not. Add to that the fact that finding a travel insurance policy that will adequately cover disabilities or pre-existing conditions is not easy, it can seem like quite a feat. But don’t be discouraged – it is not impossible or even as hard as it seems.
So, Does Travel Insurance Have Disability Coverage?
Yes, some travel insurance companies do have coverage for disabilities and pre-existing conditions, but not all. Disability travel insurance is not included in policies by default and in the majority of cases, disabled people will have to pay more to get the additional coverage they need.
You can find coverage for the following instances (on top of the standard travel insurance coverage):
- Medical treatment related to your disability/pre-existing condition.
- Loss or damage of disability and mobility equipment.
- Replacement of essential medication.
- Replacement of an essential carer.
In the end, it really comes down on a case-by-case basis and you have to contact a travel insurance company to discuss how your disability fits into their policies.
The coverage for physical disability changes depending on the type of disability it is and whether it is “stable”.
What Is Considered a Disability in Travel Insurance?
What travel insurers consider a disability and what is considered a disability by a country’s government can sometimes change. Travel insurance companies will refer to a disability or illness as a “pre-existing condition”, which is a medical condition for which you have received treatment or diagnosis prior to purchasing the policy.
This can include conditions such as:
- Chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, heart conditions etc.
- Physical disabilities.
- Vision or hearing impairments.
- Psychological conditions such as mental illnesses.
What Disabilities Does Travel Insurance Cover?
There are certain conditions that travel insurance companies can cover without any additional costs. If you have a hearing or vision impairment or a mobility disability which requires the use of a wheelchair, you will likely be covered for it, provided you didn’t need medical assistance or treatment about it in the last year.
In other words, if your condition is considered “stable”, you will have less difficulty finding travel insurance with adequate coverage.
You can also receive coverage for pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, lung diseases, epilepsy, coronary problems, etc. provided that it has been stable for a specific period of time (depending on the policy). In this case, you will have to pay extra to have your condition covered, and you may be asked to present a doctor’s certificate.
What Disabilities Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?
You will not be covered for any condition that is unstable, terminal in nature, or that carries a high risk of complications or fatality.
When buying disability travel insurance, remember:
- Let your travel insurance provider know about it. You have to disclose your condition/disability to the travel insurance provider when you purchase the policy. This will mean you have to pay more for the policy, but if you do not disclose your condition, you will not have coverage for it.
- Buy the policy as soon as you book your trip. It is always recommended to purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your trip because then you will have more coverage in case you need to cancel at some point. If you have a condition that may potentially get worse and disrupt your travel plans, it is even more advisable to buy travel insurance as soon as you can.
What Companies Provide Travel Insurance for People With Disabilities?
Naturally, travel insurance policies are different depending on which country you are living in, as well as where you are going to. What’s more, not all travel insurance companies will offer coverage for disabilities or pre-existing conditions.
You can purchase travel insurance through local travel insurance companies such as:
- AXA Assistance USA.
- HTH Travel Insurance.
- Seven Corners Travel Insurance.
- Travelex Insurance Services.
- TravelSafe Insurance.
- Trawick International.
- USI Affinity.
For travelers from the UK and EU countries
Travel insurers that offer coverage for people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions living in EU countries and the UK
|Companies||Medical emergencies coverage||Repatriation||Baggage coverage||Trip cancellation|
|Cedar Tree Travel Insurance||Up to £15 million||Up to £15 million||Valuable Item Limit: £150 – £300||Up to £2,000|
|CoverForYou Travel Insurance||Up to £15 million||Up to £15 million||Up to £2,500 per person||Up to £5,000|
|RAC Travel Insurance||Up to £10 million||Up to £10 million||Up to £1,000 per person||Up to £1,500|
|MakeSure Travel Insurance||Up to £10 million||Up to £10 million||Up to £2,000 per person||Up to £5,000|
|SwitchedOn Insurance||Up to £15 million||Up to £10 million||Up to £2,000 per person||Up to £5,000|
For travelers from Australia
Travel insurers that offer coverage for people with disabilities or pre-existing conditions living in Australia:
- Southern Cross Travel Insurance
- Simply Travel Insurance
- No Worries Insurance
Make sure to ask the agents whether they offer disability travel insurance, and be sure to research the policy and company fully.
Do I Have to Disclose My Disability to Travel Insurers?
You don’t technically have to disclose your disability to your travel insurance company. Disclosing it will mean that they can charge you extra for a policy because you can be considered high risk.
However, if you are worried that your disability will cause you to seek medical treatment in a foreign country or force you to cancel your trip, you do have to disclose it. If you do not, then the travel insurance company can refuse to accept any claims you make that are related to your disability or pre-existing condition.
Do I Have Travel Insurance For My Medical Equipment?
Coverage for loss or theft of your luggage is part of most standard travel insurance plans, and your medical equipment can count as “luggage”. So, yes, you can find a company that will cover your mobility or hearing aids, but it will not be for the full price of the equipment.
Most policies exclude valuable or expensive items by default, so if your wheelchair or hearing aids are on the more expensive side, they may not be automatically covered, but you can choose to pay more on premiums and have enough coverage for it as well.
- You will not be reimbursed for the full price of your belongings. There is usually a limit to how much the company will pay per item (it can be between $500 to $2,000, depending on the policy).
- You will not be reimbursed if you lose or damage your belongings because of “recklessness” (i.e. if you leave them unattended).
- The travel insurance company will ask for the receipts showing the cost of the items that were stolen, damaged or lost before they consider your claim. They will also ask to see a police report or report from the airline that they have misplaced your luggage/items. Read the policy rules to learn what you need to present in case you have to make a claim.
Disability Travel Insurance Coverage for Mobility Aids (Wheelchairs)
If you are travelling with a wheelchair, especially by air, you will likely have to store it away before boarding, which leaves it susceptible to theft, damage, or loss. The travel insurance company you choose may already offer coverage for your wheelchair unless it is on the “exclusions”* list. Find a travel insurance company which does not exclude wheelchairs or expensive items from their list, and if you are still unclear, ask them about it specifically.
If you have an electric wheelchair, then you will have to purchase additional insurance to cover it because that is considered an expensive item, and is not likely to be included on a standard policy.
Disability Travel Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aid
Hearing aid also falls into a similar position as wheelchairs. Because they are a possession, they can already be covered under a standard insurance policy, but it is always smart to double-check.
Additionally, the cost of the hearing aid also plays a role into how much coverage you get. If it is on the higher range of prices, it can be on the “exclusions”* list, which means the insurers are not obliged to reimburse any costs related to it or they will only pay a small portion.
*A list of items which the insurance policy will not offer you coverage for if you lose or damage them. They are usually listed on the policy. This can include specific items, such as electronics or designer clothing.
Disability Travel Insurance Coverage for Loss of Essential Medication
Another important part of travelling abroad with an illness or medical condition is medication. There are travel insurance policies which will offer you coverage for loss of your essential medications.
If you lose your medicine while you are travelling, your insurers will partly or fully cover the cost of replacing them, according to the rules on the policy.
Travel Insurance Coverage for a Replacement Caregiver
If you are reliant on a caregiver because of your disability, there are travel insurance policies which will help you continue your trip even if your caregiver is suddenly unable to join you. They can do this by offering reimbursement or paying for the extra cost that getting another caregiver to join you on the trip can add up to.
So, if your original caregiver cannot come, the insurance company will pay (up to a certain amount) for travel and accommodation costs so that you don’t need to cancel your trip as well.
For this to be possible, the original caregiver must have been included on the same policy as you.
Is There Travel Insurance With Mental Disability Coverage?
Unfortunately, you may find it difficult to find a travel insurance company that actively offers coverage for treatment of mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder but it is not entirely impossible.
If a travel insurer does offer coverage for mental health, then they will likely ask you to undergo an assessment first to determine your state prior to the travel. The insurance company can offer you coverage if you are not actively struggling with any mental health problems at the time you purchase the policy, and you can prove that you have not dealt with mental health problems in the past 1-5 years.
Another instance in which travel insurance companies offer mental health coverage is if the mental illness appears for the first time ever during the trip.
What If I Have to Cancel My Trip Because of My Disability?
Travel insurance plans usually have a list of what is considered a “valid” reason for reimbursement if you cancel your trip. Suddenly becoming ill, getting into an accident, or other health-related reasons usually make the cut.
However, they may refuse to offer coverage if it is for a pre-existing condition. This is why it is important to ask the insurers and read the policy carefully for what is included and what is not.
If you are worried that your disability may stop you from going on a trip you have paid for, you can always consider “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage, which is just as the name suggests: You can cancel your trip and will be covered, whatever the reason is.
There are, of course, some rules and it is more expensive than other cancellation policies, but if you have invested a large sum of money on a trip, it may be worth it.
What Should a Good Travel Insurance Policy Include?
When you are buying a travel insurance policy, you have to look for one that has comprehensive coverage for common travel disturbances in addition to disability travel insurance. This includes:
- Adequate health insurance. If you get into an accident or get sick during your trip, a standard travel insurance will pay for doctor consultations, emergency services, hospitalization, and even surgery, prescription drugs and medicine. Usually, travel health insurance is for medical emergencies unrelated to pre-existing conditions, but you can add more coverage to suit your needs, if necessary.
- Trip cancellation, interruption, or curtailment. If your trip is cut short or cancelled for some reason, the travel insurers will partly reimburse any lost travel or accommodation costs.
- Lost, stolen, or damaged possessions. This can also include any medical equipment you bring with you.
- Repatriation or emergency evacuation. If you have to be emergently evacuated from a foreign country, the insurance policy can pay for the cost of the emergency air ambulance or repatriation.
- Missed flight. If the flight you missed was through no fault of your own (ie. the airline rescheduled or had a delay) the insurance company will cover any expenses related to it.
- Personal liability. Although this is not a “standard” travel insurance item, some travel agencies will offer coverage if your actions cause bodily injury to someone or damage someone’s property.
Will EHIC Cover Disability Insurance?
The good thing about the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is that it will give the holder access to inexpensive or free public healthcare in another EU country. However, the EHIC is not a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance.
You will not be covered if you need treatment in a private facility, if you have to be evacuated, or if your medical equipment is lost, damaged, or stolen.
Of course, if you are an EU national, it is a good idea to have the EHIC with you when you travel, but if you want adequate coverage, you also need travel insurance.