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Getting travel insurance

You don't have to take out travel insurance when you go on holiday or a trip, but it can offer financial protection if you have to cancel your holiday, need medical treatment while abroad, injure someone or damage their possessions, or if your luggage is stolen.

Travel insurance if you have an illness

If you want to buy travel insurance but already have a health problem, it’s called a pre-existing condition.

Depending on the insurer and your circumstances, you may be able to take out travel insurance to cover a pre-existing condition, but you may have to pay extra. In other cases, you may only be offered limited cover, for example, the insurer may only agree to pay for things like lost luggage but not medical treatment. Or you may be refused insurance altogether.

Insurers will look at how likely it is that you’ll make a claim and how much this could cost them when deciding whether to offer you insurance.

If you have a terminal illness you may find it difficult to get travel insurance, but there may be some companies that can help.

Help getting travel insurance

You can find a list of specialist insurers that may offer travel insurance to people with a terminal illness on the Cancer Research UK   website. This list is based on recommendations by people who use Cancer Research UK’s website, but it’s not endorsed by the charity. Macmillan Cancer Support   also has a blog about travel insurance with recommendations from the public. 

A specialist insurance broker could also help you arrange travel insurance. Brokers don't offer insurance themselves but they can help you find an insurer that may offer you cover. The British Insurance Brokers' Association   (BIBA) can put you in touch with a qualified broker in your area.

Make sure you find out exactly what you need to tell the insurer. If you don't answer the insurer’s questions fully and accurately, your policy could be invalidated, which means they wouldn’t pay if you made a claim.

Before you go on any trip, check with your doctor that you’re medically fit to travel. Your insurer may want a certificate from them confirming this before it will offer you cover. Be aware that your doctor may charge you for this. Your insurer is likely to want to know about any medical treatment you’re getting and if this changes. So, if you get any test results or your medication changes between the time of taking out the insurance and travelling, you should tell your insurer.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you plan to travel to Europe, it's a good idea to take an EHIC card with you. In fact, some travel insurers insist you do this.

This card gives you the same rights to state-provided healthcare in Switzerland and the European Economic Area (that's all EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) as residents of the country you’re visiting.

An EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. It won’t cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue. You may still have to pay for emergency treatment abroad, as not many EU countries offer the same level of free healthcare as the UK. 

For more information, and to apply, visit the NHS Choices website   or call  0300 330 1350

This page is for general information only. It's not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.

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