LAST UPDATED: September 18, 2023
Anyone applying for travel medical insurance can expect to be asked at least a few questions about their health and medical history during the application process.
For younger travellers, this usually consists of answering a few initial eligibility medical questions.
But for snowbirds and other travellers who reach a certain age, this will also include an extensive medical questionnaire – something that snowbirds and other mature travellers know all too well.
Answering these health and medical questions fully and accurately is a vital part of the application process, as providing inaccurate or incomplete answers can result in any claim you make being denied and your policy being cancelled, regardless of whether it was intentional or accidental.
In fact, providing incomplete or inaccurate medical information during the application process is the # 1 reason why travel medical insurance claims are denied.
However, there are a number of steps snowbirds and other travellers can take before and during the application process to ensure they answer these health and medical questions correctly and avoid having their travel medical insurance claims denied down the road for non-disclosure or providing inaccurate information.
Accordingly, we’ve compiled our top tips for completing a travel insurance medical questionnaire, which will help you out regardless of where you choose to obtain your travel insurance.
How do medical questionnaires work?
Most travel medical insurance applications have two types of medical questions – medical eligibility questions and a more comprehensive medical questionnaire:
Medical Eligibility Questions
Medical eligibility questions consist of a few basic preliminary questions (usually 5 – 10) to determine if you are even eligible for coverage.
Eligibility questions include things like have you been advised by a doctor not to travel? or do you have metastatic cancer?. In most cases, if you answer yes to any eligibility question, you will be ineligible for coverage, as the insurance company deems these risks to be too high to cover you at any premium.
Everyone applying for travel insurance is required to answer these eligibility questions, regardless of your age.
If you “pass” the medical eligibility section, you may also be required to answer a more comprehensive medical questionnaire with a number of predetermined questions, which is primarily used to determine what your premium will be based on your medical conditions and the medications you take.
In most cases, you will only be required to complete a comprehensive medical questionnaire if you are over a certain age – commonly 60 years of age or older – but the age requirement can vary depending on the provider.
There are also “Personalized” travel medical insurance policies, which only require you to disclose your medical conditions (and related medications), as opposed to having to answer a long medical questionnaire.
Medical questionnaires vary greatly
Unfortunately, there is no “standard” format when it comes to medical questionnaires. This is because each travel insurance company evaluates risk differently, which means the information requested, wording of the questions and structure of the questionnaire will vary greatly from provider to provider, which can be understandably confusing and frustrating for travellers.
Preparing Ahead of Time
To help make the process of completing your medical questionnaire faster and easier – and most importantly, minimize the risk of answering any questions inaccurately, it is highly advisable to prepare a list with all of the following information prior to starting the application process:
- Your medical conditions, the status of those medical conditions and how long you have had each medical condition.
- All of the medications you take, the dosages of those medications, how frequently you take them and which medical conditions each medication is being used to treat.
- Any changes to your medical conditions, medications or medication dosages in the past year, and when those changes occurred.
If you are unsure of any of the information above, contact your physician(s) to get the answers. If you have seen any specialists, they should provide all of the information to your GP, but in some cases, you may need to contact the specialist directly. The same goes for visits to hospital emergency rooms.
Completing the travel insurance medical questionnaire
Once you have all of the information above and are ready to complete the medical questionnaire, here are a few tips to make sure things go smoothly:
- Take your time to answer all questions fully and accurately. Don’t leave anything out.
- If you are unsure of how to answer a question, use the “save your quote” option (if your provider offers one) and speak to your travel insurance broker or agent to help guide you through the question and speak to your doctor to get the correct answer.
If you don’t understand the medical question being asked of you, ask the broker or agent to define it for you.
- If you are taking a medication to control a medical condition, be aware that you still have the underlying medical condition and need to disclose it, even if the condition is under control.
For example, if you are taking medication to control high blood pressure and your blood pressure is now “normal” as a result of the medication, you still need to disclose that you have high blood pressure.
- Have you visited a doctor about a possible medical condition that is undiagnosed and still being investigated? - i.e. you have taken tests or have tests scheduled for the future and don’t have the results yet or have been referred to a specialist.
You may be asked about this in your medical questionnaire and it is important to disclose this information, as it may impact your eligibility, premium or coverage.
- Don’t complete the medical questionnaire on behalf of your spouse or partner, as you may be unaware of all of their medical conditions or medications. Have your spouse or partner complete his or her own medical questionnaire.
After you complete your travel insurance questionnaire
- Review the answers to your medical eligibility questions and medical questionnaire: Your provider will send you a list of your answers to the medical eligibility questions and medical questionnaire.
Review your answers carefully to make sure they are complete and accurate. If there is a mistake, contact your provider immediately to have it corrected.
- If your medical conditions or medications change after you purchase your insurance, or if you develop any new medical conditions or possible new medical conditions are being investigated, contact your insurance provider before you travel as this may affect your eligibility, premiums or coverage.
The Bottom Line
Failing to fully and accurately complete a medical questionnaire is the #1 reason why travel medical insurance claims are denied, which can be financially devastating.
However, taking the proper care in completing your travel medical questionnaire as outlined above can greatly reduce the likelihood of your claim being rejected and having to cover medical bills out of your own pocket.
Disclaimer: The material provided in the Snowbird Advisor Insurance Learning Centre is for informational purposes only and does NOT constitute insurance, legal, financial or other advice, and should not be relied on as such. If you require such advice, you should speak with a qualified professional to assist you.