Travelling with pre-existing medical conditions

Travel insurance is a fantastic way to protect yourself overseas, however parts of it can also be confusing to grasp. And when it comes to your health, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re covered for, so you can travel with confidence.

Pre-existing medical conditions, often called PECs, are a common cause of confusion for many travellers.

We want to simplify this, so you can worry less and have the peace of mind that you’re protected on your next adventure.

In this article, we explain the basics of what you need to know about travelling with pre-existing medical conditions, answer some frequently asked questions, and outline some common mistakes to watch out for.


What is a pre-existing medical condition?

First things first, what is a pre-existing medical condition (PEC)? There are several different definitions of the term out there in the market, but at Southern Cross Travel Insurance, we define a PEC as any illness or injury which you’re aware of, or should be aware of, which has required medical care in the last three years.

There’s a little bit more to it than this simplified definition, which we cover on our PECs benefits page.


Why are they important to insurers?

To be able to provide you with the most comprehensive cover for your needs, it’s essential that we understand your PECs. If you fail to declare these conditions and need to make a claim, your insurer may not be able to cover you.

While PECs may slightly increase the cost of your overall travel insurance policy, not declaring them means you run the risk of voiding your cover if the unexpected happens, or ending up footing a costly medical bill overseas.


Travelling with PECs: the basics

PECs can be one of the trickiest parts of buying travel insurance. This quick video outlines four of the most common questions we’re asked about PECs:

Now you should be confident that you know what a PEC is, why you should declare them when purchasing your insurance, and how they can affect the price of your policy.


What conditions are considered to be a PEC?

So what qualifies as a PEC? Below are some common examples that fit the bill:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart, vascular and lung illnesses
  • Anxiety
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hernias
  • Asthma
  • Gallstones
  • Back pain
  • Allergies
  • Hay fever
  • Eczema

It’s important to note that some PECs must be declared, and declaring others is optional.

  • If you have a heart, vascular or lung illnesses (e.g. hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, angina and asthma, to name a few) or type 2 diabetes, you need to declare these and all your other PECs when buying your TravelCare policy.
  • If you have a PEC that is not a heart, vascular or lung illnesses or type 2 diabetes, it is optional if you declare these. If you choose to declare your PECs, you must declare all of them. You cannot pick and choose which ones you want to declare and cover.

Neglecting to tell us about your PECs means that you won’t be covered for them under your policy. To be safe, it’s a good idea to declare all of your PECs to avoid any confusion about your cover.


Common mistakes to avoid

In this video, we look at four common mistakes travellers make when it comes to PECs.

Declaring your conditions, reading your policy carefully, packing wisely and consulting a medical professional ahead of your travels are all helpful ways to ensure that you’re protected overseas.


Frequently asked questions

Our dedicated support team are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your insurance. Here are just a few of the frequently asked questions we receive about PECs:


1. If I only want cover for some of my PECs but not others, do I need to tell you about ALL of my PECs when I apply for my policy?

If you have a heart, vascular or lung illness or type 2 diabetes, you must disclose ALL the PECs you have.

However, if you have a PEC which is NOT a heart, vascular or lung illness or type 2 diabetes, then you can choose whether or not you disclose and seek cover for your PECs.

As we touched on earlier in this article, if you do choose to declare your PECs, you must declare all of them.


2. If I’m taking medication for a condition but the condition is stable, is this still considered to be a PEC?

Yes, any condition which you are currently on medication for or have taken medication for in the past three years is considered to be a PEC.


3. Can you cover undiagnosed conditions?

We can’t cover undiagnosed conditions, so you should talk to your health professional prior to buying your policy about any necessary diagnoses.


4. My conditions are controlled, are they automatically covered?

No, your conditions are not automatically covered, but you can complete a medical assessment during your application process to determine whether we can cover your PEC.


5. I had a heart attack 20 years ago, and I still have regular checkups for this. Is this considered to be a PEC?

Yes, this is considered a PEC.


6. I bought an Annual Multi-Trip policy and contracted an illness during a trip, do I need to declare this as a PEC before I travel again?

Yes, if you have an Annual Multi-Trip policy and contracted an illness or injury during this period of insurance, you need to contact us prior to your next journey to see if it can be added to your policy as a covered condition.


PECs aren’t always easy to understand, but they’re incredibly important to ensuring you’re protected with the comprehensive cover you need to travel with confidence.

If you need some more assistance, we’re here to help. Please email us at, or speak to one of our friendly support staff on 0800 800 571 from Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm.


The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.

This article may contain hyperlinks to other websites owned or operated by third parties, or references to third party products or services. SCTI isn’t responsible for, and makes no recommendation about, the content or accuracy of any third party website, or for the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article doesn’t imply that SCTI endorses the website or third party product/service.