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Can You Get Travel Insurance With Cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a term used to describe scarring or fibrosis of the liver that results from a certain liver diseases and conditions. As the scar tissue spreads and replaces healthy tissue in the liver, the proper functioning of the liver is affected. Common causes of Cirrhosis include excessive consumption of alcohol, hepatitis, obesity, and diabetes. There is no cure, but there are very effective long-term treatments that enable anyone affected by Cirrhosis to still lead a productive life. However, Liver Cirrhosis could affect the level of cover you get when taking out travel insurance.

Is Cirrhosis Considered a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

If you know you have Cirrhosis, have received treatment for Cirrhosis, or are currently being investigated for possible Liver Cirrhosis, it would be considered a pre-existing medical condition. And as with other pre-existing medical conditions, you would need to disclose this to any potential insurers. While all insurers offer automatic cover for certain pre-existing medical conditions, Cirrhosis is not included, but by disclosing it you are giving the insurer a chance to assess your medical condition, and to possibly offer benefits that include cover for your condition. If they are willing to cover your condition, you might have to pay an additional premium. You should also disclose if you previously had Cirrhosis, but have since had a liver transplant, since any organ transplants are also considered high-risk medical conditions that could affect your level of cover.

What Happens if They Aren’t Willing to Cover Cirrhosis?

You can still get travel insurance even if no insurer is willing to offer benefits that cover Cirrhosis. However, certain benefits will be limited to only covering events that aren’t directly or indirectly caused by your condition. This could include medical benefits on international travel, and benefits for trip cancellations or delays. Other benefits of travel insurance for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage and personal belongings, personal liability, and even emergency evacuations not necessitated by your Cirrhosis, would be unaffected. It is important to remember that you would still have access to some medical benefits, along with travel cancellation and delay benefits, but only if they are in no way the result of Cirrhosis.

Consider Countries With a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA)

If your travel insurance doesn’t include any cover for medical treatment related to your Cirrhosis, and you are concerned you may need medical intervention while travelling, consider limiting yourself to only visiting countries that have a RHCA in place with Australia. There are currently 11 countries that have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia, and this could allow you to access medically necessary treatment while travelling, at no cost to you.

Tips for Travelling With Cirrhosis

Having Liver Cirrhosis should not affect your ability to travel, as long as you haven’t recently had any serious complications caused by the Cirrhosis, your treatment plan is stable, and your doctor has declared you fit to travel. But there are other steps you can also take to ensure you stay healthy throughout your trip.

  1. Research Your Destination

Liver Cirrhosis affects the way in which your body metabolises certain medications, and some destinations may require you to be inoculated against certain preventable medical conditions. Knowing that in advance will make it possible for you to discuss required vaccinations and other preventative measures with your doctor, who will know how to tailor any of these for your condition. Many vaccinations can take up to eight weeks to become effective, so it is critical that you do all of this well in advance of your departure date.

  1. Get a Fitness to Fly Certificate

It is still advisable to discuss your travel plans with your doctor, even if you don’t need any vaccinations for your chosen destination. Your doctor shouldn’t only assess that you are fit to fly, but also issue you with a certificate to this effect, especially if you are visibly jaundiced. This can make your trip a little smoother by alerting the airline, border controls, and other people you will encounter during your trip that you are healthy enough to travel, and that you are not contagious.

  1. Sort out Your Medication

When packing your medication, it is advisable not only to always pack it in your carry-on luggage, but to also ensure that you have enough for the full duration of your trip, and few days extra in case there are any delays. However, some countries limit the amount of prescription medication you can bring with you, but you can check with the local embassy or consulate if any restrictions apply.

Additional Resources

  • https://www.liver.org.au/ - an Australian non-profit organisation focused on raising awareness and funding research into the detection, diagnosis, and prevention of liver disease.

  • https://www.hepatitisaustralia.com/ - national organisation working to improve health and social outcomes for anyone at risk of or living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

  • https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements - details of the countries that Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with, which could allow you to receive necessary medical treatment when travelling.

If you ever feel that you have been unfairly 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. 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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