Understanding medical stability

What is medical stability?

A well-informed traveller should carefully consider their needs when reviewing different possibilities of travel health insurance. The verification of conditions, restrictions and requirements of insurance policies must constitute the central elements of their approach. In fact, the limitations on pre-existing medical conditions vary from one insurer to another. The terms of medical examinations and treatments received are also defined differently.

In the end, whether a pre-existing medical condition is covered by travel insurance or not, any traveller must understand the concept of medical stability.

Understanding medical stability

In a travel insurance policy, it is the time required by the insurer during which the traveller’s state of health must remain exactly the same, without any change, in terms of medication, treatments and consultations. The stability period is expressed in days or months depending on the travel insurance companies.


Any increase or decrease in the dosage of a medication is considered instability and more so, the beginning of taking or discontinuation of medication. It is mainly the discontinuance of taking a medication that raises the most arguments. The reason is simple. Most people believe if they no longer take the drug, they will consequently declare themselves cured. One should know that in the beginning of a medication being taken, as it is judged, may have side effects. Taking a new drug prescribed by their doctor or stopping the prescription of a drug leads in both cases to a change in the patient’s health. As such, the history of their medication is an integral part of the concept of medical stability.


The term “treatment” is any health problem or symptom for which a physician has a diagnosis and has recommended a medical response. All treatment received to control a medical condition (medication, chemotherapy, surgery, hospitalization etc.) is also subject to a period of stability which varies according to age, duration of the trip or the type of treatment itself.

Medical consultations

The term “consultation” is defined as any visit where you ask them to see you for a health problem that creates discomfort and worries you, even to the point of presenting to the emergency department of a hospital.

In contrast, the annual medical examination with your family doctor does not fit into the category of medical consultations affecting medical stability. Instead, insurers see travellers who had a health check within 24 to 36 months before the travel departure date favourably. The medical situation of the traveller is therefore known and possibly better controlled. Consequently, a surcharge applies on some travel contracts for travellers aged 55 and over who have not had a health check for more than two or three years. They are considered higher risk by travel insurance companies.

Term stability

As mentioned previously, the age of the traveller is an important point for the criterion of a period of stability. Depending on their age, the clauses in the contract require stability times ranging from 7 to 365 days. The insured person must refer to the required stability time for their age group at the date of departure for their trip.


Some medications, such as insulin and coumadin, are considered stable even if the dosage varies. With this type of medication, we consider only the starting or stopping of taking the drug for stability.

The category of minor ailments includes any illness, injury or health problem that does not require the use of medication for more than 15 days and not more than one follow-up visit to the doctor. For a condition to be considered minor, the insured person should not be hospitalized or undergo surgery, or be referred to a specialist (the definition is always described in the insurance policy). The health status must remain stable up to 30 days before departure date. However, a chronic condition, or any complication related to a chronic condition, is not considered a minor ailment.

The features may be slightly different from one travel insurance product to another, so it is important to read the policy. If in doubt, the best way to know if your stability has been acquired before departure is to check w