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Can You Get Travel Insurance With Arthritis?

Arthritis affects close to 4-million Australians, with almost 2-million people living with arthritis being younger than 64-years of age. It is often thought of as an age-related disease, but arthritis can affect people of any age, with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout being the most common forms of arthritis. Although it is a painful condition that makes moving around difficult, it doesn’t restrict anyone living with the disease from travelling, or from having travel insurance when they do.

Why you Need Travel Insurance

A big part of travel insurance are the medical benefits, since the cost of medical treatment can vary dramatically from one country to the next, and nothing ruins a relaxing holiday like needing medical treatment and not being able to afford it. But travel insurance offers many other benefits too, making it a must-have for any travel, whether you have arthritis or not. Four key benefits of a good travel insurance policy include:

  • Cancellation or deferment of your trip, and some related expenses.

  • Medical and dental expenses, including evacuation and or repatriation.

  • Lost, stolen, or damaged luggage and personal belongings.

  • Personal liability, legal expenses, and car rental excess.

Nobody expects any of these to happen, but they are unpredictable events that can affect even the most seasoned of travellers. Travel insurance doesn't protect you from these events happening, but it does offer protection against the financial burden that follows any of these events.

Will Travel Insurance Cost More if you Have Arthritis?

Most travel insurance policies include automatic cover at no additional cost for around 30 to 40 pre-existing medical conditions. However, this is always dependent on the person buying the insurance policy disclosing their existing medical conditions, and these meeting certain individual requirements. Unfortunately arthritis is seldom automatically covered, and anyone living with arthritis would still need to disclose the condition and could be asked to undergo a basic medical assessment. Based on the outcome of this assessment, the insurer might offer special cover for the condition if an additional premium is paid. If the insurer declines cover for arthritis, or if you choose not to pay a higher premium for the cover, you can still take out travel insurance, but only for the benefits that wouldn’t be influenced by your condition. Choosing not to disclose that you have arthritis is never a good idea since it could see your entire travel insurance policy being invalidated, and all claims being rejected even if they are not related to your arthritis.

Finding Travel Insurers That Cover Arthritis

Your age, destination, and length of trip are just a few factors that influence the type of travel cover you would need, and the cost. None of our insurers offer automatic cover for arthritis as a pre-existing condition, but may cover it after a basic medical assessment. Use the form below to get quotes and compare different travel insurance products, or to view the Product Disclosure Statement for each of our insurers.

Tips for Travelling With Arthritis

If you’re embarking on your first trip since being diagnosed with any form of arthritis, you benefit not only from having the right travel cover, but also from the following tips:

  1. Remember Your Medication

Ensure you pack enough medication for the duration of your trip, and that all your medication is in the original packaging, or in packaging that is clearly labelled and includes your name. Carrying a copy of your prescription and a medical letter from your doctor listing each the medications, the dosage, and the condition it is used to treat can also make travelling across borders easier. If flying, pack some of your medication in your carry-on luggage so you can easily access it during the flight.

  1. Avoid Peak Travel Periods

Try to find out when peak travel season is for your destination, and if possible, avoid travelling during this period. Travel won't only be cheaper, but it could also be a lot more convenient, with you not being subjected to long check-in queues, or large crowds at your destination. Standing or being immobile for long periods of time are never pleasant, and even more so for people with arthritis.

  1. Dress Comfortably

You will probably be moving around quite a bit during your holiday, including a lot of walking, so make sure your holiday wardrobe includes loose-fitting clothes (appropriate for the climate of your destination) and comfortable shoes. And if you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, during the flight and at your destination, make a point of standing up periodically, stretching your limbs, and walking about for a few minutes.

  1. Pack Light

You want to pack all the essentials you might need on your trip, but you also don't want to pack too much. Travelling with too much luggage is not only going to slow you down, it could also put additional strain on your joints, worsening your condition, and preventing you from fully enjoying your trip. With proper travel insurance you know that any medical expenses will be covered if you are forced to seek out treatment, but you don't want this happening simply because of your luggage.

  1. Pick Your Accommodation Carefully

When booking your accommodation, always check what floor your room is on, and whether the building has an elevator. If it doesn’t, try to arrange for a room on the first or second floor, so you don’t need to climb too many flights of stairs.

Additional Resources

  • https://arthritisnsw.org.au/about-arthritis/arthritis-statistics/ - the latest statistics and information about arthritis in Australia.

  • https://www.aidsfordailyliving.com.au/arthritis - products designed to make certain tasks easier for people living with arthritis.

  • https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements - details of which countries Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, which could give you access to free medically necessary care when travelling.

If you ever feel that you have unfairly been refused travel cover, or that a travel insurance claim has been improperly processed and settled, you should first contact your insurer to lodge a complaint with them. Your insurer has up to 45 days in which to respond to your complaint, and if the matter has not been resolved, you can then approach the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to lodge a dispute. AFCA replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) on 1 November 2018.

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