Understanding the medical questionnaire

Are you worried about having to fill out a medical questionnaire? Here are answers to many of the questions we receive most regarding medical questionnaires.

Older couple sitting at a cafe

Why do I have to fill out a medical questionnaire?

Insurance companies will ask you to fill out a medical questionnaire once you reach a certain age. It varies by company, but the age at which they become mandatory is usually between 55 and 59. At RSA the age is 55.

The reason insurance companies require it is because, as we age, we are more likely to have medical conditions that increase the chances of needing medical care while travelling. Understanding your medical history will allow them to price your policy accordingly.

The information gathered from the medical questionnaire is just one factor in determining your coverage and the cost of your insurance policy, but it is probably the most important step in buying travel insurance. Claims can be turned down for providing inaccurate information on the application or medical questionnaire, so it’s really important that you do it accurately.

How long does it take to complete the questionnaire?

The questionnaire length varies by insurance company, but between three and five pages is an average range. It is very important to take your time, read every question carefully and be sure not to leave out any information.

You may want to consult your insurance broker, or insurance company to clarify any questions you are unsure about. You should also speak with your doctor to confirm your medical history and be certain you are providing accurate answers.

For these reasons, it’s recommended that you give yourself lots of time and not leave it until the last minute.

What types of questions are in the medical questionnaire?

The questions are designed to better understand your medical history, asking if you have ever been diagnosed or treated for any illnesses. They are often grouped into categories for general eligibility for any insurance, to determine if your application needs to be reviewed by a medical underwriter to customize your policy, and to determine what type of plan you qualify for.

What happens if I forget to include something or misunderstand a question?

If you have any doubts about your medical history, or don’t understand the terminology in the policy or your medical questionnaire, check with your doctor or a travel insurance expert. If you forget to inform us of a pre-existing condition, or provide inaccurate or incomplete answers to questions, any claim you submit can be denied even if the question that is answered incorrectly is not related to the cause of the claim. That is why it is so important to take your time and think carefully about each answer. Otherwise, you may be paying for coverage that you can’t use.

What If I don’t understand some of the questions?

That’s what we, and your broker, are here for! It is your insurance broker’s or insurance company’s responsibility to help you through the medical questionnaire and ensure that you understand every question. Ultimately it is your responsibility to understand your health conditions, medications and treatments, so be sure to seek the assistance of your doctor when completing it. Even if you are confident with your answers, talk them through with your doctor and make sure you are answering the questions completely and accurately.

What if I have a pre-existing condition?

If one or more of your responses indicates pre-existing condition the insurance company may ask for more information be provided by your doctor. This information will then be used to create a customized policy for you that will provide protection for your condition, providing it is in a stable state.

What is defined as treatment?

Treatment can be defined as being prescribed medication, undergoing surgery or another medical procedure. Some examples are:

  • Hospitalization
  • Medication
  • Physiotherapy
  • Radiation treatment
  • Surgery
  • Psychotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Oxygen
  • Or any other procedure prescribed or performed to treat your medical condition

What is considered a change in medication?

A change in medication can be defined as any of the following:

  • An increase in your current dosage
  • A decrease in dosage
  • A change to a new medication
  • The addition of a new medication
  • The stopping of a medication

An increase in medication is not necessarily a bad thing, and a decrease or stop in medication is not necessarily positive. It’s important to record any change to your medications when asked so that the insurance company can determine what this may mean.


Remember, being accurate on your medical questionnaire begins with understanding your medical conditions and medical history. Your doctor and insurance broker are both resources you can draw on to ensure that you answer the questions properly, and give you the peace of mind that you have the coverage you need while away.