Purchasing Travel Insurance with Pre-existing Conditions

As our departure date approaches, I’ve been having this reoccurring dream of my worst diabetic travel fears playing out.

The dream goes something like this: We’re in some relatively rural location, still trying to get our footing for the area and signage, and we don’t speak the language. I accidentally consume contaminated water or fruit or whatever, and get sick. So sick that I can’t keep food down.

And then, within a few hours, my blood sugar starts to tank. Any glucose I take won’t stay down, even if I suck on the tabs and try to get them to dissolve in my mouth. My blood sugar hits 90 mg/dl….80 mg/dl….and then 70 mg/dl with no sign of stopping.

I start to contemplate injecting glucagon into myself, while still conscious, to stop the slide. And before I fully make a decision, I wake up. (Disappointing, I know. I’d like my subconscious to tell me if that was a smart decision to glucagon or not.)

Now, I have no reason to think this will happen to me. I have a rock solid stomach. I’ve previously swallowed water in countries I shouldn’t have, and been fine. And even if it does happen, I have no reason to think my blood sugar will decide to drop at the exact same time.

But this much I do know about myself: I worry. I’m a worrier. It’s in my nature. So that’s why we purchased travel insurance for our RTW trip. In case you haven’t used it, travel insurance helps reimburse unexpected costs while abroad, such as trip cancellation/interruption or medical treatment. (If you’re still confused, here is an article that does a good job of covering the basics.)

Purchasing Travel Insurance

When I started shopping for insurance, I was specifically looking for a policy that:

  • Covers pre-existing conditions. Let’s be honest, my biggest chance of using this policy is for my diabetes, so it being covered under the policy was a must.
  • Includes medical evacuation coverage. If something really does go wrong on the road and the closest hospital does have not the ability to treat my condition, medical evacuation coverage would move me to a more suitable, experienced facility. Knowing that I would get quality care if something were to go wrong is a must for me.
  • Includes trip interruption coverage. Trip interruption provides reimbursement for return transportation home if something happens on our trip that interrupts it—this could be my own health OR the health of my family members. Since we’re traveling for a year, having this provides piece of mind for me.
  • Has a reasonable deductible. Anyone with diabetes knows the insurance fine print can kill you. Give me a reasonable deductible, please. I don’t plan on using the policy. Promise.
  • Has good reviews—specifically from people who filed claims. It’s easy to sell a policy and then walk away; I want to know that customers who actually had to use the policy were satisfied with the customer service.

My husband and I ended up using SquareMouth, an insurance brokerage site, to search multiple travel insurance providers. As soon as I narrowed by those that cover pre-existing conditions we were down to a handful of options.

For $1,173 we bought coverage for one year that covers trip interruption, emergency medical care, medical evacuation and baggage loss, which mid-level coverages in each area (i.e., we didn’t go for the cheapest policy out there). It has a $250 deductible, and has good reviews from people that specifically filed claims (which you can view through SquareMouth).

SquareMouth Logo

That price would go dramatically down with a shorter trip less than a year.

While searching, I did learn that we should have bought our policy sooner. We were asked for our trip deposit date (i.e., the first time we put any money down towards trip reservations). Many insurance providers ask that you book WITHIN 14 days of that trip deposit, if you want a policy that covers pre-existing conditions. It has to do with them guaranteeing that the condition is actually pre-existing, and didn’t originate between when the trip was booked and when it starts.

For me the peace of mind of travel insurance is worth the expense. Now here’s to hoping I don’t need to use my insurance policy for any diabetes-related events!

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