The Importance of Travel Insurance Medical Questionnaires

If you are a Canadian senior 60 or over who plans to spend more than a few weeks out of the country, you will normally be asked to fill in a questionnaire before purchasing travel insurance.  Unfortunately, many seniors do not take adequate care when filling in these questionnaires, leading to errors and omissions.  The result could well be a denial of claim after a serious accident or illness.

By following these tips, you should be able to avoid having a medical claim denied while traveling:

1. Keep a medical history log.  Record when you go to the doctor or have a test and what was discussed.  Often, questionnaires will address medical conditions that happened 5 or 10 years ago.  Do not rely on your memory alone.

2. Read questions carefully.  If you are not a detail-oriented person, ask a friend or family member for assistance.  Small variations in wording can easily change your answer from “yes” to “no”.  For example, if you have Asthma and use an inhaler, one questionnaire may ask “Have you been prescribed an inhaler” while another questionnaire may ask “Do you use an inhaler with 3 or more medications”.  If your inhaler contains 2 medications, your answer to question 1 would be “yes” whereas your answer to question 2 would be “no”.

3. Count all your medications.  Many seniors take certain medications only “as needed”.  For example, seniors with heart problems often carry Glyceryl trinitrate to use in emergency situations.  Remember, if it has been prescribed, it counts as a medication, even if you rarely use it.

4. Choose the simplest questionnaire.  If you are having trouble recalling your medical history, try to find a questionnaire that is easy to answer.  Some of BestQuote’s questionnaires have as few as 5 questions.

5. Understand why you’re taking a medication.  Some common medications can be taken for more than one reason.  For example, blood thinners can be prescribed to patients with a history of strokes as well as to those with a history of certain types of heart conditions.

6. Understand the difference between an acute and chronic condition.  Questionnaires typically ask about chronic conditions.  For example, a broken bone that has fully healed (an acute condition) is unlikely to be addressed in most medical questionnaires.  On the other hand, heart conditions are typically chronic, and even if you have fully recovered from heart surgery and take no medication, it may still be addressed on a medical questionnaire.

7. Do not guess.  If you truly can not answer a question, seek out help from a nurse or doctor.  In some cases, you may need to ask your family doctor for assistance when completing a questionnaire.

8. Err on the side of caution.  If a question could reasonably be answered with either a “yes” or a “no”, answer “yes”.  The cost of your insurance policy may go up, but at least you know that you will be covered in the event of a medical emergency.

9. Take a short trip.  Several of BestQuote’s policies allow travelers under age 75 to take trips of up to 15 days without completing a medical questionnaire.  You must still meet the general eligibility conditions of the policy, but these are typically easier to understand than medical questionnaires.

About the author

Vance Derban is a licensed insurance broker at BestQuote Travel Insurance Agency.  He can be reached at [email protected]