Waiver of Pre-existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions are the #1 reason claims get denied. Learn what pre-existing exclusions are, who they apply to and why you should get the waiver.

Travel Insurance Excludes Pre-existing Conditions, But Offers Waiver

In our article on pre-existing medical conditions we learned how travel insurance companies define pre-existing medical conditions and how far they look back into someone’s medical history in determining whether or not the condition is pre-existing. More importantly, we also learned that pre-existing medical conditions are excluded from nearly all benefits on a travel insurance policy. In this article we are going to look at the best way to get travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions, a benefit that's known as the "Pre-Existing Medical Condition Waiver" or also "Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions". 

What is the Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions in Travel Insurance?

Simply put, the Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions covers, or “waives” the companies right to exclude pre-existing medical conditions from their policy. It's a feature only available with certain comprehensive package plans that include trip cancellation/trip interruption. It's what's known as an extra time sensitive benefit, the waiver of pre-existing medical conditions does not cost anything extra, it's not an option you can add to your policy. It is only available if you qualify for it.

  • Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions “waives” travel insurance Pre-existing Medical Condition Exclusion- Pre-Existing Medical Conditions would be covered

How Do I Qualify for the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Waiver?

Qualifying for the Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions varies by plan. Usually there are three key requirements common in most policies. Depending on the plan, some may have additional requirements. It's important to note that the Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions is an all or nothing benefit. You either meet all of the qualification criteria or you do not.

So what are the qualifications that must met? They are:

  • You must purchase the insurance within a required time following your initial trip payment
  • You must insure for the full pre-paid, non refundable cost of your trip; and
  • You must be medically able to travel at the time you purchase the insurance

In addition, some plans may also require the following:

  • The initial deposit must be the first and only booking for that travel time and destination
  • Trip costs over a certain dollar amount may be ineligible

You can purchase plans that offer a Pre-Existing Medical Condition Waiver but you have to qualify for it with the plans that offer it. Qualifying for it usually requires the plan be purchased within a certain time from the first trip payment, insure to the full trip cost and all travelers being insured have to be medically able to travel at the time of purchase.

You includes you and any family members insured on the same policy.

Purchasing the Travel Insurance Within the Required Time Frame of Your Initial Deposit

With most plans that offer the Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions, the insurance must be purchased within 15-21 days (varies by plan) of making your initial trip deposit. There are a few plans that require the insurance be purchased prior to, or within 24 hours of making your final payment.

What does this mean? Your initial trip payment or initial deposit is the first time that you have put any sort of money or payment towards any portion of your trip. When you first make a payment towards your trip, the countdown for qualifying for the waiver begins. It is important to understand that while you may think of things like air fare, cruise fare, rentals and the like as being independent from one another, in the eyes of the travel insurance companies- it’s all part of the trip you're going on. Keep this countdown in mind when you make a small deposit on your trip that you may not be paying off for several months to a year to come.

What about the plans that offer the waiver as long as you purchase the travel insurance prior to, or within 24 hours of your final payment? Usually with those policies the final payment is considered a large final final payment.

Insuring For the Full Cost of the Trip

Buying the insurance within the time period required is just one step towards qualifying for the waiver. Most plans also require that you purchase insurance for the full non-refundable cost of your trip as well. What is the full non-refundable cost? It is the monetary amount that you would lose if your trip was to be cancelled. A good rule of thumb is this- if you had to cancel the day you were leaving, what would your losses be? Insure for that amount. For example, if you’re trip was $5,000 and if you had to cancel your trip on the day of your departure and the entire cost was non-refundable, then you would insure for $5,000

Non-refundable cost of your trip is

  • Total of all pre-paid out of pocket non-refundable travel expenses
  • If you had to cancel day of departure, what would your losses be? Insure for that amount

I should mention here that sometimes there is a temptation to under-insure, especially if the cost of your trip is just over a rate band threshold- don't do it. With many travel insurance companies, rate bands are usually in $500 per person increments ($1-$500 per person, then $501 to $1,000 per person, etc) until you get to around trip costs of $7,000 to $8,000 per person- then some start going in $1,000 per person increments.  So a trip that is $2,001 is in the same price category as one that is $2,500. While understandably it's disheartening to find your trip cost just putting you into the next higher rate band category, but if you're trying in qualifying for the waiver, you must insure for the higher amount.

You Can Modify Your Travel Insurance Policy

What if you’ve only made a deposit on your trip and the balance isn’t to be paid off until much later? Your travel insurance policy can be modified. You'd insure for what the pre-paid non refundable cost would be at that time and then add to your policy's trip cost as soon as you make more payments.  Subsequent payments toward a trip must be added to your policy’s trip cost within 15 to 21 days (varies by policy) of making those additional arrangements. So if your policy required you to purchase the insurance within 21 days of making your initial travel deposit, any further trip costs you incur must be added to the policy within 21 days of doing so. You would just pay the additional premium due. We recommend taking your best guess as to what the total cost of your trip could end up being.

Being Medically Able to Travel

Most plans require that you(and other traveling family members) are medically able to travel on the day you purchase the insurance, not at the time of your trip.  This is important to understand.  

Additional Requirements

As mentioned earlier, some plans may have additional requirements. Usually this entails the waiver only applying to trip costs under a certain amount - usually $10,000 per person. Sometimes it can be more. Usually you see this on the more lower priced, economy plans that offer the waiver.

What about the part that says it must be the first and only booking for that travel period and destination? That’s the travel insurance companies way of not allowing someone to cancel and rebook their trip so that they can be eligible for the waiver.

Not Meeting the Requirements

What if you’re within the 15 days of qualifying for the waiver, but you didn’t insure for the full non-refundable cost of your trip? Or what if the trip was fully refundable on the date of departure? Or at the time you bought the insurance you weren’t medically able to travel, but hoping that as you got closer to your departure date that you would be? As mentioned above, with the Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions you either meet all of the requirements or you don’t. It’s all or nothing.

A Benefit of Good Faith

The Waiver of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions is a benefit of good faith. Proof that you met the requirements only occurs in the event of a claim.


As soon as you make any sort of payment towards any portion of your trip, start looking at travel insurance!  

As mentioned above, the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Waiver is a benefit of good faith - proof that you qualified is only required in the event of a claim.  We recommend keeping all of your receipts handy - remember the initial deposit is the first time you've made any sort of payment towards any portion of your trip. If you're not certain about whether or not your medically able to travel, you can always talk to your primary doctor and to make sure you're clear to go to get it on record.

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Recommended Travel Insurance Plans

The following are the top 1 plans out of 1 available to you. All coverage limits and premiums are in US $.
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Travel Insured International

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This feature is available if policy is purchased within 21 days of your initial deposit
After 21 days you can still buy the policy but this feature won't be available
See Policy Wording
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