Having asthma should not keep you from living the fullest life and seeing the world. Whether for business or pleasure, thousands of asthma patients travel every year.
However, travelers with asthma are highly recommended to take out travel insurance that covers any incident that can be traced back to their preexisting health condition. Indeed, not any travel insurer will cover asthma.
Here’s what you need to know before subscribing to new travel insurance if you suffer from mild or severe asthma.
Related article: Safety tips for traveling with mild or severe asthma
Does Travel Insurance Cover Asthma?
Most travel insurance companies impose special coverage conditions for people with a preexisting medical condition. Depending on the severity of your asthma, finding travel insurance can get tricky for asthma sufferers.
If you prefer visual explanations, fear not! We've got a video that breaks down the content of this article for you:
What’s a preexisting condition?
A preexisting medical condition is a condition you know you have before your trip departure. Preexisting conditions are usually chronic long-term illnesses but may also include physical injuries.
If you suffer from such conditions, you probably fall under the exclusion clause of your insurance plan. But you can waive the exclusion and ask your insurer to extend your coverage. Most insurance companies will cover most preexisting conditions under certain conditions:
- They must be declared
- You may have to complete a medical assessment
- It may induce extra fees
However, some medical conditions may not be covered at all, like mental disorders or some cancers. What about asthma?
Is asthma a preexisting condition for travel insurance?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, health insurance companies “can no longer charge more or deny coverage (…) because of a preexisting health condition like asthma, diabetes, or cancer (…)”. While we applaud that new regulation, it does not seem to apply to travel insurance.
Both mild and severe asthma fall into the category of preexisting conditions for most travel insurance. Specific requirements may be needed to obtain coverage. Depending on your travel insurance company, you may be required to prove that:
- There have been no exacerbations of your asthma in the last 6 or 12 months
- You have no other lung disease
- You have not been hospitalized recently
- Your medication hasn’t changed recently
- You are under 60 years old
Additionally, you may be asked to have a medical assessment, especially if you have severe asthma.
Severe asthma travel insurance coverage often induces extra fees. However, less severe forms of asthma (mild asthma), or even well-managed severe asthma, may be covered at no additional cost.
Should You Declare Asthma on Travel Insurance?
Whether you have mild or severe asthma, you must declare your condition to your travel insurer even if it doesn't affect the cost of your insurance plan. If you intentionally or unintentionally forget to say it, you may not be covered in case of a severe asthma attack or any related respiratory issues while traveling.
What happens if you don’t?
Keep in mind that travel insurance companies are businesses, so they will always try to find a way to avoid paying.
Suppose you haven't declared asthma to your travel insurance. In that case, you may not be able to claim reimbursement for any expenses that can be directly or indirectly linked to your condition while away. Let’s take three different scenarios as examples:
1. You have a severe asthma attack in Thailand.
You're enjoying your beach holiday in Thailand and come across unexpected asthma triggers (pollens, pollution, food allergy, dust, smoke, or others). As a result, you have an asthma attack that you don't manage to control with your usual quick relief medication, and you need medical attention. You're taken to the hospital and admitted for two days until your condition is stable.
This incident is directly related to your preexisting asthma. If you have not declared your condition to your insurer, you may not be able to claim reimbursement for the hospital fees.
2. You lose your asthma medications while traveling
Another unfortunate but typical scenario is when you lose your medicines while traveling. Imagine that one of your bags gets stolen or lost. You must immediately buy new asthma medicine in whatever country you are in.
This incident is also directly related to your health condition. If you haven't declared asthma to your insurer, you will not be able to claim reimbursement for the cost of your new medicine.
Related article: How to keep Dupixent cool while traveling?
3. You missed your flight back home because of asthma
You're late for your flight and have to run to get the bus that takes you to the airport. Unfortunately, you suffer from a severe asthma attack on the bus and must get out for some fresh air. As a result, you miss your flight back home.
While this incident (missing your flight) is only indirectly related to your preexisting health condition (asthma), most travel insurances would refuse to fund a new plane ticket if you haven’t previously declared your condition.
The bottom line is that any traveler with asthma should declare their medical condition to their travel insurance. It may cost you a few extra dollars, but you'll probably save hundreds of them if anything happens while traveling!