Can You Get Travel Insurance After You Have Had a Stroke?
A stroke is quite a serious medical condition, but also one that it is possible to fully recover from, so it should in no way affect your ability to travel locally or internationally. But as with any high-risk medical condition, you should always get your doctor to assess your fitness to travel and disclose this aspect of your medical history to any insurers you are considering for travel cover.
Will I still be able to get travel insurance?
The way in which insurers define pre-existing medical conditions means having had a stroke - and received treatment for it in the recent past – is seen as having a pre-existing condition. However, since it is a high-risk condition, it is not automatically covered by any travel insurance products. Instead you are expected to disclose it to the insurer, who might ask for additional information, and expect you to undergo a basic medical assessment. Based on this, the insurer will either offer you:
travel benefits that include cover for any events related to your medical condition, but require the payment of a slightly higher premium, or
their standard travel benefits with no additional costs involved, but with no benefits for any claims arising directly or indirectly from your pre-existing medical condition.
It is important for you to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, including having had a cerebrovascular accident, even if you know they won’t include cover for it. Failing to do so could result in the insurer declining any claims submitted even if they aren’t the result of your medical condition. Long-term treatment following a stroke may include having to take blood thinning medication, which usually come with a risk of serious side-effects. Your insurer might limit or restrict some benefits if you are taking any blood thinning medication, but other benefits won’t be affected. Be prepared to compare travel insurance products offered by different insurers so you can easily find the most suitable cover.
Is travel insurance still worth it if it doesn’t include cover for my stroke?
Absolutely. Travel insurance includes benefits that cover many other events, such as:
Your luggage and personal belongings being lost, delayed, damaged, or stolen.
Partial or full reimbursement of prepaid travel expenses if you need to cancel or delay any part of your trip, as long as this isn’t the result of your stroke.
Medical treatment and/or hospitalisation on international trips for any medical reasons not related to your stroke. Travel insurance for domestic trips doesn’t include any medical benefits since these would be covered by Medicare or your private health insurance.
Nobody expects anything to go wrong when travelling, but you also cannot predict what might happen. And while travel insurance won’t prevent any mishaps, it will protect you against unnecessary expenses.
What if I’ve had a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)?
A TIA – sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke – is not as severe as a stroke, and has a much shorter recovery time, but it is still seen as a high-risk condition. You would still need to declare it to the insurer and could still be required to pay a higher premium or have access to reduced benefits. And if you have a cerebrovascular attack or TIA after you have already bought your travel insurance – but before you have started your trip – you should still disclose it to your insurer as soon as you are able to.
Tips for travelling after having had a stroke
Get Your Doctor’s Approval
Depending on the severity, it is possible to travel – including flying – 10 days after suffering a TIA, and 21 days after having a stroke. However, this should still be conditional to your doctor declaring you fit to travel. Discuss your travel plans in as much detail as possible so that your doctor is able to assess your fitness in relation to where you are travelling to, and any activities you hope to participate in. They should also advise you of precautions you need to take, and any activities you should avoid.
Take Steps to Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Anyone is at risk of developing DVT when travelling, especially on very long flights, but your risk could be higher if you have had a stroke recently. Compression socks can offer some protection against this, but only if combined with simple exercises you can do while flying. Your doctor should be consulted for the most reliable advice on avoiding DVT.
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