Did you know, over a quarter of Brits travel abroad each year without having the right travel insurance? It’s a worryingly high figure, especially if you are traveling with a pre-existing medical condition. And when you start looking at the numbers, the situation becomes even more alarming.
According to data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), British holidaymakers made one insurance claim almost every minute last year. That’s a total of 498,000 claims
at an average cost of £800 (although some claims were considerably higher).
Why are so many people failing to get the right cover? Part of the problem may be that people with pre-existing medical conditions may struggle to get travel insurance with the right medical coverage.
Can you get travel insurance with medical conditions?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition you may find it harder or more expensive to get travel insurance. However, it is not impossible.
There are a few simple steps you can follow to ensure you find the right cover for your medical conditions.
1. Use a company that specialises in tailored travel insurance with medical conditions
2. Declare any pre-existing medical conditions.
3. Complete any medical screening questions truthfully.
What medical conditions are covered by travel insurance?
The purpose of travel insurance is to cover the cost of the unexpected, such as illness or injury, theft, or cancellation of part of your holiday. If you are travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, your cover will extend to protecting you should you fall ill because of that condition - but only if you declare it beforehand.
Here are some of the medical conditions that can be covered by travel insurance and how to prepare for them before you depart.
Diabetes (type 1 and 2)
Think about your diet while you’re away and whether you’ll need vaccinations beforehand. Check if blood glucose levels are measured in the same way as in the UK and bring double the amount of medication than you would usually use if possible.
Heart conditions (like angina)
Book a destination that is right for you (e.g. close to amenities, not too hilly, no extreme temperatures). With a pre-existing heart condition you may be more prone to DVT (deep vein thrombosis) when flying three hours or more – exercise, compression socks and glyceryl trinitrate might help. And if you have a pacemaker or ICD, make sure you have your device ID card and alert security staff before stepping through any metal detectors at security.
With a pre-existing medical condition such as cancer, your immune system may be weakened meaning you cannot have certain travel vaccinations. If you plan to fly, check with a specialist that they are happy for you to do so. Cancer also carries a higher risk of you developing blood clots or DVT so take the relevant precautions. Take more medication than you will need for the time you’re away and check the limits on how many controlled drugs you can take into a particular country.
High blood pressure
Speak to your doctor to get their go-ahead for your travel plans and ask them to prescribe extra mediation. Be aware of any time differences and factor that in when taking your dose. Also, make sure you’re aware of how your planned holiday activities may affect your blood pressure and how to recognise the signs if you start to feel unwell.
If travelling by air, get up and move around the cabin frequently. You’ll want to try the local cuisine whilst away, just try to eat everything in moderation. Avoid food that is high in salt and fat, and eat plenty of fresh fruit, veg and fibre – as you would normally. Doing exercise while you’re away (swimming, walking, tennis) will also help keep your cholesterol levels under control.
Breathing problems (including asthma or emphysema)
If you are flying and use oxygen, speak to the airline in plenty of time before you travel. If your pre-existing lung condition leaves you breathless, you might want to consider requesting special assistance at the airport and your destination.
The rules around travelling with HIV vary from country to country and some destinations may have restrictions about longer stays. The Terrence Higgins Trust
suggests that you check with your local embassy, consulate or High Commission to get the most recent information. Before travelling, make sure your vaccinations are up to date and you know how to store your medication. If you are travelling to an area where insect-borne diseases are common (e.g. malaria, Dengue fever or yellow fever) minimise the risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes or ticks.
Make sure airport staff, cabin crew and holiday reps are aware of your epilepsy. As with any other pre-existing medical condition, make sure you pack enough medication (plus extra). Keep all mediation in your hand luggage and in its original packaging. It’s important to take your anti-epilepsy drugs at the prescribed intervals so be aware of time differences.
If you have had a stroke, you will need to speak with a medical specialist to find out if it is safe to fly. Make sure you also include any new conditions that were diagnosed at the time of your stroke and make sure they are stabilised. On the flight, try to book a seat with extra legroom to reduce the risk of developing DVT.
Other Major Organ Conditions
Including brain, blood, liver and kidney conditions.
Can I exclude a medical condition from travel insurance?
Yes it is possible. You must declare all medical conditions to your insurer to be sure you hold a valid travel insurance policy, however a select few may be able to apply a voluntary medical exclusion. However, you must be aware this will exclude all claims that may arise from or relate to a pre-existing medical condition and the linked conditions can be extensive.
If you choose to 'Decline' cover for your pre-existing medical condition(s), you will also not be covered for any claims arising from the following medical condition(s) which are related to the excluded medical condition(s) above.
- Chronic renal failure
- Lower limb ulcer
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Transient ischaemic attack
- Heart attack
- Mini stroke
Does EHIC cover pre-existing medical conditions?
While it is a good idea to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel within Europe, it is not a substitute for specialist medical insurance. EHIC is not designed to cover pre-existing medical conditions, it does not cover private hospital care and it won’t cover the bill if you need to be flown home.
Taking out travel insurance with medical conditions
is the best course of action. Get in touch with the team at Insurance Choice to find the right policy for you and your circumstances.