Australians failing to declare pre-exes

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Australian travellers, hopefully insured.
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According to new research from Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, almost one in two Australian travellers do not know which pre-existing conditions they should declare when purchasing travel insurance.

Approximately 22 per cent of respondents to the website’s survey said that they would only declare conditions that they ‘consider relevant’, while 41 per cent said that they did not know which conditions would be relevant. The findings, warn Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, mean that many Australians are risking jetting off overseas with insufficient cover: “In the event that you require hospitalisation or emergency assistance, travellers who haven’t disclosed their prior medical conditions could be uninsured and therefore liable for tens of thousands in medical costs.”

Citing additional information from Smart Traveller which suggested that 23 per cent of Australians believe their government will arrange – and pay for – early homeward travel in the event of an overseas medical emergency, Ball said that the Australian travelling public is at ‘enormous financial risk’.

“The problem with omitting your pre-existing condition is that you risk invalidating your whole policy,” said Ball. “You have a duty of disclosure. By knowingly withholding crucial information your insurer may choose not to cover any of your travel expenses, full stop.” She advised anyone who may be unsure that no pre-existing condition is too minor when it comes to travel insurance, and that it was better to be safe than sorry.

“Most insurers define a pre-existing condition fairly broadly,” she added. “In simple terms, if you have sought medical attention for it at any time, it may be worth declaring. Our best advice would be to speak to your insurer and be as transparent as possible. Answer all questions and check with your doctor if you have to.”