In the insurance world, "pre-existing conditions" are a hot topic. It should come as no surprise that the same holds true with travel insurance; if you have a pre-existing condition, you'll need to consider that when making arrangements for travel insurance. It's also important to consider pre-existing conditions of your loved ones, whether they're traveling with you or not, before you purchase a travel insurance policy.

It's possible to get travel insurance even if you or a loved one have a pre-existing condition. In some policies, a pre-existing conditions waiver is actually included as one of the benefits as long as you purchase the policy within a specified time frame – usually anywhere from 10-30 days of making your initial trip payment. In such cases, there is usually no additional paperwork required to obtain your travel insurance policy, and no additional fee for the benefit. It's considered a part of the standard travel insurance comprehensive policy when it is purchased this way. However, in other cases, you'll need to look into getting coverage for your pre-existing condition separately, in which case there may be additional fees or paperwork required.

With a pre-existing conditions waiver, you'll be eligible for travel insurance benefits should something related to your condition (or your loved one's condition) disrupt your trip. For example, if you are traveling abroad and a family member at home who suffers from a pre-existing condition suddenly takes a turn for the worse, making it necessary for you to cut your trip short, your policy's trip interruption benefits would apply. If you were traveling with a pre-existing condition of your own, and suddenly had a recurrence or relapse that required you to seek medical attention, your expenses would be covered under the guidelines set by your travel insurance provider. Without the pre-existing conditions waiver, you would not be eligible for these benefits.

When looking into travel insurance coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, it's important to understand how the insurance companies define the term. In general, most companies will consider you to have a pre-existing condition if you have a diagnosed illness or medical concern that has not been "stable" within a defined period of time prior to your travel insurance purchase. The period of time that is specified will vary by plan and provider, but is usually anywhere from 60-180 days. "Stable" means, in brief, that your condition has not changed or worsened in any way – no new diagnoses or treatments, no new medications, no treatments of any kind, and no pending or initiated treatments, scans, or test results.

Without a pre-existing conditions waiver, your travel insurance company will have the right, should you file a claim, to look back into your medical history – or the medical history of pertinent family members – up to the defined period of time stated in your policy and determine whether or not they believe the incident for which you've filed the claim is related in any way to a pre-existing condition. If they determine that you are, in fact, filing a claim for something related to a pre-existing condition, they may decide to deny your claim. That's why understanding pre-existing conditions waivers and making sure that you purchase a policy that suits your needs is so important. To make sure that you've done everything you can to protect yourself and your trip, do your research; be up-front with your insurance company about any conditions you think might apply; purchase your travel insurance policy as soon after paying your initial trip deposit as possible; and familiarize yourself with all the details of your policy before you depart.