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Can You Get Travel Insurance With Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease caused by bones losing calcium and other minerals too quickly, causing bones to become thinner and less dense. When this happens, bones become brittle and more at risk to fractures from even minor bumps or falls. While osteoporosis often presents with no symptoms in the early stages, one fracture increases the risk of future fractures and the chance of developing chronic pain, mobility disabilities, and a loss of independence. More than 1-million Australians are affected by osteoporosis, and although it can start at almost any age, it is more common in people older than 50 years.

Can you get Travel Insurance if you have Osteoporosis?

The good news is that many travel insurers offer automatic cover for osteoporosis, as long as:

  • You haven't had any fractures yet.

  • You aren't taking more than one medication for the condition.

  • You don't have any other conditions affecting your back or neck.

But just because an insurer offers automatic cover for osteoporosis does not mean you don’t need to disclose it as a pre-existing medical condition. You still need to disclose it so that the insurer can make a proper assessment of the condition, and if you meet the requirements listed above, offer you cover at no extra cost. If you don’t meet the above criteria, the insurer could still be willing to offer you travel insurance that covers you for osteoporosis related events, but with a higher premium attached.

What is a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

The interpretation of a pre-existing medical condition differs from one insurer to the next, but typically refers to chronic or ongoing medical conditions that:

  • You are aware of or should reasonably have been aware of. This includes conditions that have not yet been diagnosed, but that you are currently being reviewed, investigated, or tested for.

  • That you are currently being treated for or have received treatment for in the past.

  • Treatment is seen as taking prescription medication for the condition, following a treatment plan, and/or undergoing surgery for the condition.

If you are aware of any pre-existing medical conditions, including osteoporosis, you need to disclose them when you apply for travel cover. And if you only become aware of a pre-existing medical condition after you have bought travel insurance, you need to contact the insurer to inform them immediately. Failing to disclose a pre-existing medical condition can result in the insurer cancelling your policy or paying out reduced benefits on certain claims.

If you aren’t sure if what you have counts as a pre-existing medical condition, err on the side of caution and disclose it; the insurer will tell you if it isn’t considered a pre-existing medical condition, or if it could affect your travel cover. Most travel insurance policies automatically cover a small range of pre-existing medical conditions, and even if osteoporosis isn’t listed in the insurers Product Disclosure Statement, they could still offer you cover for it after you complete a medical assessment and are willing to pay a higher premium.

Why Should I get Travel Insurance if my Condition isn’t Covered?

If an insurer is not willing to cover your osteoporosis or other pre-existing medical condition, you can compare travel insurance products from other insurers, or accept limited travel insurance that would still cover you for events including lost, stolen, or damaged personal belongings and luggage, cancelled or delayed travel plans unrelated to your medical condition, and possibly even some medical benefits under certain circumstances. Your insurance certificate will either state your medical conditions that are covered by your policy or reference a pre-existing condition waiver.

Tips for Travelling with Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, like many other medical conditions, does not prevent you from travelling. All it requires is a little bit of extra planning, and maybe a few adjustments to the type of activities you normally engage in when travelling.

  1. Schedule a Visit to Your Doctor

If you’re planning your first trip since being diagnosed with osteoporosis, make an appointment to see the doctor in charge of your treatment plan. They will be in a better position to declare you fit for travel, and also offer additional advice on precautions you should take.

  1. Organise Your Medicine

Part of your treatment plan could involve you taking additional nutritional supplements and vitamins. Ensure you have enough of these for the duration of your trip and keep them in their original packaging, so it is easier for border control to see what they are. If you are taking prescription medication, get your doctor to write a letter detailing what you are taking, in what quantities, and what each is meant to treat. Your prescription medication should also be in the original packaging, or in containers with printed labels listing what they are and including your name. If you are flying, pack all your medication in your carry-on luggage so it is easily accessible, and there is less risk of it being misplaced during transit.

  1. Review Your Travel Insurance

Check your insurance certificate and the insurers Product Disclosure Statement so that you know exactly what you are covered for, and the steps you should follow if you ever need to make a claim or find yourself needing emergency assistance. Leave copies of all of this with family or friends not travelling with you.

  1. Organise Travel Aids

If you need a mobility aid such as a walking cane, walking frame, or wheelchair, check with the airline what their policy is regarding travelling with these aids are. If you only need a mobility aid some of the time, it might be easier to see if you can organise one at your destination, and when passing through any transit terminals.

  1. Choose Your Destination Carefully

Consider how well you know the destination you plan on travelling to: is it well-developed, and will you need to walk a lot. If you are already experiencing problems with mobility or balance, you don’t want to travel to destinations with a lot of unpaved or uneven surfaces, or that require a lot of walking. While exercise is essential for treating osteoporosis, too much walking could tire you easily, and increase your pain and discomfort.

Additional Resources

  • https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/ - not-for-profit organisation responsible for providing osteoporosis information and services to the community and health professionals.

  • https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis/contents/what-is-osteoporosis - Osteoporosis snapshot compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

  • https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements - list of countries that Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with. Travelling in any of these countries could give you access to free medically necessary care.

Should you feel that you have been unfairly refused travel cover, you should first discuss this with the insurer by lodging a complaint with them. They will then have up to 45 days in which to respond, and if after that period you still feel the matter has not been properly resolved, you can approach the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to lodge a dispute. AFCA replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) in Australia on 1 November 2018.

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