A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is reduced. As stroke is a serious condition, most travel insurance brands won’t automatically cover stroke.
So how can I get cover for stroke?
If you’ve previously suffered a stroke and any resulting complications, this will have an effect on your ability to qualify for travel insurance cover. A stroke is considered to be a pre-existing medical condition, so you’ll need to:
- Declare it to your insurer and allow yourself to be medically assessed.
- Pay the additional premium required
- Follow any new conditions e.g. no travel to Africa
While many insurers will offer you cover when you declare, if the stroke occurred (or you received treatment for it) within a specified time frame prior to you taking out travel insurance, any claims relating to stroke may be excluded from cover.
Learn more about getting travel insurance if you have suffered from a stroke
How do insurers define stroke?
Stroke is classed as a high-risk existing medical condition by travel insurers, which means it will need to be assessed before an insurer will offer you cover. Some insurers refer to stroke as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
It’s vital that you tell your insurer of any pre-existing medical conditions, including stroke, when you apply for cover. Each insurer will provide its own definition of what is considered to be a pre-existing condition, and stroke always fits the bill.
Insurance providers need to know about your medical history so that they can decide whether or not to offer you cover and then set your premiums at an appropriate level. If you fail to disclose any health condition to your insurer, any claims that result from that condition could be refused and your policy may be cancelled.
Each insurer has its own process for when you want to declare a pre-existing medical condition. This may include:
- Answering questions about your medical history when applying online or over the phone
- Completing an online self-assessment process regarding your medical condition
- Providing reports about your condition from your doctor or specialist
- Undergoing a medical examination or testing
Important questions about stroke medication and cover
Am I covered I currently take medication for stroke?
One of the most common medications prescribed to stroke sufferers is blood thinning medication. This includes
Many travel insurance policies will exclude Warfarin and blood-thinners users from cover, as it has a complex range of serious side effects. This usually means that any claims arising directly from your medical condition won’t be covered if you are currently on stroke medication.
What if I’ve taken medication in the past?
A timeframe exclusion may also apply to pre-existing medical conditions and their treatment. For example, if you’ve taken a prescription blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin at any time in the past 12 months, you might not be eligible for cover.
Some travel insurers such will still offer you cover for medications such as Warfarin, but you’ll need to declare your medication use when you apply for cover. Check your insurer’s list of general exclusions for more details.
If it’s been two years since you suffered a stroke, it may be possible for you to take out travel insurance. You’ll need to declare your pre-existing medical condition and any treatment or medication you’ve received and wait for the insurer to approve your application for cover.
Some policies will require you to have not received any treatment or rehabilitation for the stroke in the past two years. If you have, any claims that arise from the stroke may be excluded from cover.
Even if your medical history means you can’t qualify for medical cover under a travel insurance policy, travel insurance still offers a wide range of benefits. Many New Zealand insurance companies offer non-medical travel insurance policies that provide a financial safeguard in a wide range of situations. These policies cover:
Cancellation fees and lost deposits. If you’re forced to cancel non-refundable travel items, travel insurance can cover you.
Missed flights and delays. If you miss a flight for reasons outside of your control, you’re typically covered.
Lost, stolen or damaged passport and travel documents. Travel insurance can protect your valuable items as you travel.
Personal liability. If you accidentally damage or injure a third party on your holiday, travel insurance offers protection against personal liability.
Flying after a stroke. It’s best to avoid flying for at least two weeks after suffering a stroke. After that time, seek advice from your doctor about when it will be safe for you to travel.
Booking a holiday. If you have mobility problems following your stroke, you might want to find a travel agency that can help you access the care and accommodation you need while travelling.
Beware of deep vein thrombosis. The inactivity of long-haul flights combined with the lower oxygen pressure in an aeroplane cabin can lead to deep vein thrombosis, which usually causes blood clots in your leg. These clots can break off and travel to your lungs, causing pulmonary embolism. Do simple exercises and stay hydrated to reduce the risk.
Contact the airline. If you have special requirements such as mobility equipment that you need to take with you, contact the airline in advance to find out if your equipment can be carried on board.
Take out travel insurance. Even if your pre-existing medical condition is excluded from cover, travel insurance can still provide essential protection. Make sure you have adequate cover in place before beginning your journey.
There are several general exclusions on travel insurance policies that could affect people who have suffered a stroke or resulting complications, including:
- No cover for conditions for which you are awaiting surgery or treatment
- No cover for conditions for which you have been hospitalised within a certain period e.g. 2 years
- No cover for pre-existing conditions
Check with your insurer to make sure you’re aware of when cover is and isn’t available.