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Travel insurance

Hi all

My partner had a severe TBI in July 2017. He was in hospital for 5 weeks. We went on holiday in June 2018 and so I got a travel insurance policy with all of his injuries/complications in hospital declared. I believe the medical questions for this particular insurer asked about hospital admissions/medications etc. in the last year.

We are going on our honeymoon in June this year so nearly two years on from the accident. Obviously I won't need to declare most of his injuries (e.g. broken bones) or the hospital stay itself (as it will be over a year ago) but does anyone know if we will still need to declare the brain injury since he's still dealing with the consequences of it? By this I mean that you don't really "stop" having a brain injury, so does this count as a "pre-existing medical condition"?

I'd ring and ask the insurer for clarification but they are useless - any questions like this and they just say to ask your doctor (which I understand, but GPs can't tell me if a travel insurance company is going to refuse to pay a claim due to an undeclared brain injury!).

Thanks in advance for any advice.

22 Replies

I believe it's an issue of ongoing conditions such as seizures, or anything else which might have arisen from the brain injury. Have you thought of contacting Headway for travel insurance as they'll be the experts on this :-


Good luck, Cat x


I've travelled extensively since my cvst and never had problems with health insurance. Just have to declare everything in advance and some insurance companies won't insure me.

I've used boots, more than and someone else I can't recall....

Happy travelling!


Yes you have to declare a brain injury, it is permanent damage to your brain. Symptoms can change with time. I am always asked if i need a walking aid and also if i have epilepsy. Also any medications i take.

Because i have had depression in the past i have had to declare that also and am always asked if i was hospitalised because of it. I cannot see what relevance this has but id rather have valid insurance.


Why does permanent damage to your brain mean that you have to declare it though? Is there something in your travel insurance documents that suggests you need to do this?

I’m asking this because my travel insurance documents specifically say medication/treatment/advice about conditions in the last 12 months.


yes you always have to declare the brain injury and when it occurred.

for me it was 7 years ago and my holiday insurance has decreased each year since,



Can I ask what makes you think this? What does it say in your travel insurance terms that says you have to declare a brain injury from 7 years ago?


theres always the possibility you may ( in my case ) have another stroke and although over the years my travel insurance has reduced, if i didnt declare and something did happen, then theres the possibility they wouldnt pay out, so i always declare, but the choice is yours.



You dont have to take out travel insurance at all. Take your chances its up to you.

My sister didnt for a number of years when she knew her medical conditions wouldnt be covered.

She got to travel wherever she wanted to go but there was no safety net, she took that risk.

So its up to you, by not declaring a health condition you risk any insurance you have being negated.

My understanding of my brain injury is that epilepsy can develop at any time, even years later. And in my case i can suffer the condition again.

I consider the extra i pay, and its not really that much, is worth it for peace of mind.


When did I ever suggest I was going to travel without insurance/without declaring medical conditions? All I want is to be 100% honest on my policy, but not just declare things I don’t need to declare for the sake of it and then unnecessarily pay too much. Is this a strange thing to want? It sounds sensible to me.

My question to you was, “Is there something in your travel insurance documents that suggests you need to do this?” Since you haven’t provided this, I assume the answer is no, and you’ve just assumed that you need to declare your BI.

As I said in my previous reply, my insurer asks about treatment/advice/medication in the last 12 months, and that is it. Don’t you think this slightly contradicts the “declare your brain injury forever” argument? This is what has confused me.


no it doesnt, youve been given several reasons all of which youve decided to argue against, my suggestion is to go away, phone several insurance providers and ask them if you need declare year in year out the fact you have a brain injury. that will answer your question!!!!


Hi, I worked in the travel industry for many years, you MUST declare any pre-existing medical condition otherwise you invalidate the whole policy, particularly if you are still under hospital/GP care for it.

Last year for my son, I tried specialist insurers as he was just 11 months post accident and ended up going back to Insure & Go who I had used previously, cost of policy was £105 compared with normal £20.00. Also had Consultant fitness to fly in writing.

I hope that this will reduce in time.

Having seen families left with bills they can't pay because of non-declaration believe me its not worth it


But what makes a brain injury a “pre-existing medical condition”? It’s not like diabetes or high blood pressure that you take medication for. It happened, he was in hospital, and now he’s at home getting on with his life. It happened nearly two years ago, and my insurer asks only about “treatment/advice/medication in the last 12 months”.

I feel as though people are misunderstanding my question. I am well aware that I need to declare medical conditions on my travel insurance, but I also don’t want to just declare things I don’t need to and cost myself a lot of unnecessary money. I am trying to find out if I really need to declare the brain injury or if people just do it years after their brain injury “to be safe”.


Please don't take this the wrong way. But I think it is you that is misunderstanding the term 'pre-existing'. To me this means anything that did/does occur before you take out the insurance. When asked the 12-month question I always say 'not in the last 12 months but I did suffer a BI years ago'. Then they are very interested. I appreciate you don't want to pay more if you don't have to. But isn't it better to declare now than either end up with a medical bill or be hospitalised abroad unable to get home?

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Thank you. I don't think it's the "pre-existing" term which is causing the confusion - I think it's more that this specific insurer only asks about things in the last 12 months, but there isn't a question asking me to declare certain conditions regardless of time elapsed. Something like a broken arm can lead to ongoing problems (e.g. stiffness in soft tissues), but I wouldn't think I'd need to declare that if it had happened 2 years ago, so why is a BI different in this regard?


Yes I can see what you are saying on this. But if I were an insurer I would perhaps argue that because the brain is such a complex piece of equipment there is much more that can go wrong with it after it has been through some trauma. And the consequences can be much more serious of course. Its a little like comparing a high spec PC with a hole punch :)


Hi again, i think this last answer answers your question. It is a pre- existing medical condition.

A brain trauma causes all kinds of symptoms and a brain injury is for life. Symptoms may come and go and others may appear further down the line but certainly in my cae a scan of my brain shows the damaged areas.

We are not medical professionals and i am certainly not an insurance specialist. It may be better to seek help from them.



You do need to declare the brain injury and will continue to have to do so on any travel insurance policy you take out. Maybe the term pre-existing causes confusion, not everyone who has a heart condition or diabetes was born with it, its something that develops and once you have it it is classed as pre-existing.

If you develop something after you take out the policy that's not classed as pre-existing and you would be able to claim for cancellation of your trip, but if you wanted to continue with your plans you would have to declare it and it would be classed as pre-existing.

The insurers will take into account the fact that your partner is 2 years on and from what you are saying has not had any seizures (which is something my son and most people with a BI will be at increased risk of for the rest of their life, however, as time goes on the risk is reduced) and is getting on with his life.

They may ask if he is still under a Consultant even if this is just an annual check up, does he take any medication as a result of his BI.

When I take out my sons insurance this year, I will not have to declare the operation he had to repair the damage to his diaphragm, but I will have to declare that his childhood asthma (not had an attack for 18 years) has returned as this seems to be linked into the thoracic surgery. My son has been discharged from his Neurology surgeon but is still under his Consultant Rehab for Neurology, this links into the advice they ask about.

The choice is yours but if you don't declare and need to claim it will invalidate your policy and you will be liable for any costs for medical treatment which depending on where you are going can run into thousands of pounds. Its just not worth the risk.


I know it's nothing to do with whether you were born with it, but my point is that the medical questions ask about medical "conditions" that you've received treatment, medication or advice about in the last 12 months, not "serious injuries that have happened at any point your entire life". This is why it is unclear.

From a legal/contractual point of view, surely there would need to be some specific wording in the policy that explicitly says "you don't need to declare e.g. a broken leg for the rest of your life, but you do need to declare a brain injury". Does that make sense?

Your examples about receiving medical advice/still being under a consultant definitely make sense - this is explicitly mentioned in the travel insurance medical questions, so I understand why you'd need to declare it in this case. But if you've literally had no advice, medication or treatment for your BI in the time period specified by the insurer, do you still need to declare it? If so, why? There are a lot of people in this thread saying yes, you do need to, but I haven't seen a document/statement from a travel insurance company that says this, and no one has provided one. So where does this assumption come from?


I tried all sorts of supposedly specialist companies and then went to my car insurer NFU and got a straightforward quote a fraction of the price. My advice would be to be honest but go with who you know.

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I always err on the side of caution and declare all medical conditions that I have suffered from and treatment I have received. Otherwise just like any other insurance company they can refuse to pay out because you didn't declare all the relevant information. Most travel insurances won't cover my particular medical condition so I use a specialist one that I found online and I have never had any problems. If I couldn't find one to insure me I would just ask them to exclude my condition although I know this could be a bit dodgy.


You definitely need to declare it, otherwise you've given them a reason to refuse to pay out.

A preexisting condition is one present at the time you enter in to the insurance contract.



I couldn't comment on the legal aspects of what insurers would need to include in the small print of their policy wording.

To use your example of a broken leg, this may not leave you with life changing injuries but for most people on this forum who have had a BI whether as a result of an accident (in my sons case he was run over) or a bleed/stroke etc., it does in most cases leave you with ongoing issues, in particular the threat of seizures, each persons recovery and long lasting issues are different.

I personally would not feel comfortable not declaring any ongoing medical condition, pre-accident I always declared my son had a learning disability and was always covered under the normal terms and conditions of the policy with no additional charges.

I haven't taken out his policy yet this year we don't travel until June but it is on my to do list, I am quite optimistic that the cost will be lower than last year as we will be nearly 2 years post accident, discharged from the Consultant Surgeon,discharged from the Thoracic Consultant, but we now have the added complication of asthma which is under control at present.

When I was ringing round last year, I found the specialist insurers more challenging to deal with, which is why I went back to Insure & Go. They were very helpful, passed me through to the underwriting team who had more knowledge than the front line advisors and the whole process took around 10 mins and cost me £100 more than pre-accident policy.

Its your call, again depending on where you are going, pre-brexit, if you were traveling in the EEC, you could have obtained and E112 which unlike E111 covers you for certain pre-existing health conditions.


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