1. Understand how your travel insurance policy defines ‘stable’ for health-related developments
Here are typical ways that an insurer will define the stability of your condition:
- There are no symptoms or signs of illness, whether new, more frequent, or severe
- There have been no new diagnoses or tests pointing to a deterioration in health
- You have had no new treatments, medical care, medications, dosages, or admissions to hospital
- There has been no recent referral to a specialist, or a new recommendation for treatments or tests
- You have not failed to act on a necessary recommendation or referral, and you have not refused to wait for test results before travelling.
The insurer will require that you (the insured) will NOT have had any of these developments during a specified period of time stated in the policy; usually the time period is 30, 60 or 90 days.
If you have had one of these developments, your coverage for a pre-existing condition could be void when you are travelling.
So what is a ‘treatment’ or a new ‘medication’? The rules are not straightforward.
All travel policies include a section of definitions but a common word like treatment may not be defined, and may not be clear.
Here’s another tip: do not assume that policy wording stays the same from year to year. It can change! It is important to check your current policy wording.
2. Take note if you’ve had a health-related development (including a medication change)
Remember, that “stability” in a travel insurance policy means no change whatsoever to your medical condition!
Sometimes it’s possible to overlook the importance of a minor health-related development, but be aware that any of these can impact your travel insurance:
- An Improvement In Your Condition
If your medication decreases or is stopped…that is a change! It may be good news, but for the purposes of travel insurance your health will likely not be considered stable.
- An Adjustment To Your Medication or Treatment
That’s an alteration! You may be taking the same medication but your dosage has been increased. Or you’ve switched from a brand name medication to a generic. That is a change! However, some insurers will allow it as ‘no change’ if it is the same dosage — so you must understand your policy’s definition.
- A Minor Ailment
How travel insurance policies define stability for a minor ailment differs. For example, one week of medication for a cold may be acceptable to some insurers, but not others.
- Awaiting Diagnosis
Referrals to a specialist, planned surgeries, recommended or upcoming treatments and tests will all mean that you are no longer ‘stable’ according to your travel insurance policy.
- New symptoms
Avoidance does not help you avoid triggering the stability clause. If you suspect you have a health problem, it counts too! The insurance company will likely deny any related claim as the symptom or medical issue, although not diagnosed, occurred during the stability period.
3. Talk to your insurer
It is important to let your insurer know of any health-related developments when applying for insurance and prior to the start of your trip.
If you travel as planned without notifying your insurer, you risk paying a medical bill if your symptoms recur while you are away.
If, on the other hand, you slip and fall, your travel policy may cover that cost because it is an unrelated medical event.
A special note regarding Valsartan
In 2018, several common drugs that contain Valsartan (used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure) were recalled (see Health Canada’s link https://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2018/67202a-eng.php for information).
At SBIS we are proactive, contacting insurers quickly to determine how a change to a new medication after a recall will affect our travel insurance policyholders.
We found that insured individuals who change from using Valsartan to another medication may be considered unstable, depending on the insurer.
Please contact SBIS for more details regarding Valsartan and how a change in medication may effect your policy.