Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

Originally posted: 1st Sep 2022

Is depression a pre-existing condition?

Yes – depression is classed as a pre-existing medical condition once you have had a full diagnosis from a general practitioner or any other medical specialist qualified to do so.

Essentially, the definition of a pre-existing medical condition is something that existed prior to you taking out a policy.

Therefore, you would need to declare it to your travel insurance provider. In order to get access to the best quotes – you may need to answer a few specific questions when asked about your medical history.

All in all, there is an extensive list of over 2,000 medical conditions that can be covered and defined as pre-existing. Besides depression, this includes conditions like asthma, HIV, various heart conditions, lupus, different types of cancer, and high blood pressure to name a few.

Check out our pre-existing medical conditions page for more information on what does or doesn’t count as a pre-existing condition.

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Does depression affect travel insurance?

It can often be a common misconception that living with depression, or any other pre-existing medical condition for that matter, is likely to make your travel insurance much more expensive.

This is not necessarily the case. It depends on your own personal circumstances, including how much medication you’re taking, or what type of depression you have (you can search quotes for depression or manic depression, where the symptoms can be more severe).

Regardless of the premium – it’s always advised to consider the overall policy benefits over getting the cheapest deal.

By taking this approach, you are effectively ensuring that you’ve got cover should something go wrong.

Declaring depression on travel insurance

Declaring depression as a condition is vitally important in terms of getting the right level of cover to suit your specific situation while you travel.

Once you have declared depression, you will be asked a number of questions relevant to your condition. You will need to specify whether you have had a compulsory admission to the hospital as a result of depression within or beyond the last five years – and you may be asked to specify how many times you have been to hospital during this time.

You may also be asked whether you have been referred to or treated by a psychiatrist and whether your depression has ever caused you to cut short any previous travel plans in the past. In this case, for example – the policy limits for cancellation may be enhanced.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, MBE

Top tips for travelling if you have depression

Dr Sarah Jarvis is the Clinical Director of the Patient Platform, an active medical writer, broadcaster, and the resident doctor for BBC Radio 2.

Depression is incredibly common – about one in five Brits has depression severe enough to require treatment over the course of a lifetime. While depression may rob you, at its worst, of the ability to enjoy life, it certainly doesn't mean you should avoid holidays. In fact, many people with depression find that being unable to get away from their problems makes their symptoms worse.

For many people, depression happens at a certain point in life (perhaps when you're going through major life events or have stresses you can't solve). But for many others, depression is a fact of life – it can be ongoing or recur for no apparent reason. Regardless of which category you fall into, you need to take a few factors into account when you're travelling.

  • Regardless of whether you have symptoms of depression, it's essential to declare your history of depression when applying for insurance. Not declaring the fact that you've had depression – even if you don't currently have any symptoms – could invalidate your insurance.
  • Your insurance costs will be affected by the severity of your depression (for instance, whether you've needed hospital admission or compulsory admission for treatment, and whether/how long you've been under the care of a specialist). For many people with a history of mild depression, your condition shouldn't affect your insurance. However, it's always worth finding a specialist travel insurer who can look at your answers in detail to determine your travel insurance levels.

If you do currently have depression:

  • Have a plan for what to do if you become more depressed while you're away. That could include having contact details for your own therapist or doctor, or details of local therapists in the area you're visiting.

  • Check your destination's policy on medicines. Most antidepressant medications are allowed if you're travelling abroad – but there may be conditions or exceptions. For instance, some medications to reduce anxiety aren't allowed in some countries. It's really important that if you are taking medication for mental health problems, you check the details on the foreign embassy website of the country or countries you're visiting.

  • Make sure you have enough medication to cover the whole of your trip, with some spare in case of emergencies. You'll need to order any repeat prescriptions from your GP well before you leave and should carry your medicine in your hand luggage. You may also need a doctor's letter, depending on the country and the medication. Our article on carrying medication abroad gives more details on what you need to think about.

  • No matter how well you feel, don't adjust the dose of your medicine, or stop without a doctor's advice, particularly just before you travel. While most people can stop antidepressants without problems by following instructions from their doctor, some people develop unpleasant symptoms when they cut down or stop antidepressants.

  • Time your travel (and your activities). Many people with depression find their symptoms are worse in the mornings. So, trying to leave home, check-in or be on time for day trips that depart early can be a challenge. If your mood tends to improve as the day goes on, plan activities for later in the day – including any flights.

  • Don't overdo it. While holidays are supposed to be fun, they can also be stressful, especially if they involve a major change from your normal routine or a lot of activities. Even socialising can be exhausting if you have depression. Don't try and cram too much into your holiday and include some downtime in your itinerary.

  • Adjust on your return. Leave yourself at least a couple of days after you return to adjust before you go back to work. Remember that travel, including travel home, can be delayed, or disrupted. The last thing you need is to get back a day late after stressful delays and have to plunge straight back into your day job.

  • Consider your triggers. Is your depression worse if you're sleep deprived? If so, consider a trip that doesn't involve changes in time zones or the risk of jet lag.

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It’s easy to compare quotes for specialist depression travel insurance with us.

Our online comparison tool will help you find the right cover in minutes. Once you’ve told us about your trip and any pre-existing health conditions, you can compare competitive cover across a range of leading depression travel insurance providers. 

Explore your options today and get covered.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Besides anxiety, you can get covered for a number of other mental health conditions including bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD and Schizophrenia to name a few.

Yes, we'll need to know if you or any traveller on your policy has ever suffered from a diagnosed psychiatric condition. So, this could be a condition that is present now or a condition that you've had in the past and have made a full recovery from. But don't worry, we'll ask you a set of questions relating to your condition to take your individual circumstances into account.

It is simple and quick to do! After you've told us about your trip details and answered some medical history questions you can add your pre-existing conditions, one by one, for each traveller. You'll only need to enter your details once, it's all online and there's no need to call, or provide details of your conditions in writing.

Once you've declared all your relevant pre-existing medical conditions, we'll only show you quotes based on the conditions you have told us about.

No, we are unable to provide cover with any of your pre-existing medical conditions excluded.
Nearly all insurance policies will come with cancellation cover included. Cancellation cover will start as soon as you buy your single trip policy, or your policy start date for an annual trip (so you may want to start this cover as soon as possible). Cancellation cover will help you with the cost of your trip, including flights, accommodation and, in some cases pre-paid excursions. The cover limits will be the amount per person.

* Price is based on 1 traveller aged 61, who has declared Depression and is travelling to France for 7 nights. The price is correct as of July 2024. Prices may vary according to your individual requirements.

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If we're unable to help you find cover for a pre-existing medical condition, the Money Helper Directory has listings of companies that may be able to assist you. Further details can be found on their website.

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