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What does Acute Onset of Pre-existing Conditions Mean for Visitor Insurance?

acute onset of pre existing conditions

What is an Acute Onset of Pre-existing Conditions?

Acute onset of pre-existing conditions means a sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence of a pre-existing ailment that occurs spontaneously and without warning in the form of symptoms.

It is short-duration, rapidly progressive, and requires urgent and immediate medical care. It occurs a minimum of 48 hours after the policy’s effective date, and treatment is obtained within 24 hours of the sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence.

A pre-existing condition that is congenital or that gradually becomes worse over time will not be considered acute onset. Each plan has a distinct set of criteria and eligibility for acute onset. Check the certificate to understand what it means and what you can expect during your travel.

What does acute onset mean for visitor insurance?

acute onset of pre existing conditions

Acute onset of pre-existing conditions is a benefit that is part of some visitor insurance policies. In most visitor insurance plans, pre-existing health ailments are not covered, and the only exception to this is that some plans may cover an acute onset of a pre-existing condition. It becomes tricky for people to understand this, which is why one needs to understand how the insurance plans work.

To start with, the acute onset of a pre-existing condition means that you are traveling with a pre-existing illness and can experience a sudden health issue during travel. Here, the biggest significant factor is that the health condition must be unexpected and come out of nowhere.

Though it is okay if the condition increases your health risk, the issue should occur quickly and without warning. For instance, if you have asthma, you can face a sudden attack during travel. This could be considered acute onset.

However, if you are recently facing a health condition, which arises again while vacationing abroad, then this would not be considered acute onset. Or, if you are doing fine and suddenly face a heart attack due to high cholesterol, this could be covered under acute onset based on the symptoms at the time of occurrence. Though each case and scenario are different, it is best to contact the insurance company to clarify the visitor insurance for Pre Existing Conditions in this situation.

What about the claims?

When it comes to paying the claims, you can rest assured that your insurance company will evaluate all the claims and determine what amount should be reimbursed for your medical or hospitalization charges. They may look at your past medical records, note the symptoms of what you have been experiencing in recent times, what could be the risks involved, and more.

As pre-existing conditions are not covered by most visitor insurance plans, this means the insurance company will determine whether the condition was really a  pre-existing condition that you already knew about.

What can be considered acute onset?

Each case is different. Here are some most common examples to get an idea :

  • Someone has diabetes and gets diabetic shock suddenly.
  • Someone has asthma and suffers from an attack during travel
  • Someone has high blood pressure and gets a heart attack unexpectedly

Note that the cases described above are not acute onset. Based on the medical records and doctor’s reports, the insurance company will determine whether the case will fall under the acute onset of a pre-existing condition or not.

What cannot be considered acute onset?

Each case is different. Here are some examples to get an idea :

  • Someone has been complaining about pain in the chest for a few days and gets a heart attack later
  • Someone has not been taking insulin shots for a few months and feels sick later
  • Someone has been not taking medicines for high blood pressure and falls sick later

Again, the cases mentioned above may or may not be acute onset. The insurance company will review all the records to determine what falls under acute onset.

What is next?

Choosing a visitor insurance policy can be difficult because you may not know what ailments are already present in the body. Plus, if you are with a traveling companion, it may be harder for you to guess whether he/she has a pre-existing condition or not. Make sure that you compare the plan and go through the brochures so that you can be aware of what to expect while traveling overseas.

Honestly, any kind of health condition should not stop you from international travel. All you need to do is do some additional research, pay a little attention, and be prepared for what you can expect from the policy. In case you are going through some problems,  it is essential to understand that your condition may not be covered.

Do you wish to travel worry-free? We at Visitor Guard®, can make your travel dream come true! Contact us now.

Chiranth Nataraj

Chiranth Nataraj

Travel Insurance Expert

Chiranth Nataraj is a licensed insurance agent and the principal at, an independent insurance agency that provides visitor insurance to customers across the United States and the world. With over 20 years of experience, Chiranth has been instrumental in educating the travel community, new immigrants, the international student community, and foreign governments about visitor medical insurance to cover medical expense risks. He has built a team that strives to make the preferred choice for travelers, exchange visitor organizations, and international universities. His insights and expertise have made him a popular industry voice, and he is often featured in USA Today, Forbes, Washington Post, and many more.


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