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Travel insurance for cancer patients

Our guide on travel insurance for cancer patients

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Written by  Alicia Hempsted
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Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
10 min read
Updated: 11 Sep 2023

If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, a holiday can give you the time and space to come to terms with the illness. Alternatively, it could be that you need a few days away to recuperate from cancer treatment. You might even want to go on holiday to celebrate the all-clear.

Travel insurance is an important protection to consider if you are planning a holiday as it covers your luggage and personal belongings, cancellation, and curtailment. Moreover, it can protect against hefty medical expenses if you need treatment abroad or if you need to be flown home.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, or have recently recovered from it, finding the right travel insurance can be challenging. Learn more about the ins and outs of travel insurance for cancer patients with this brief guide.

Can I get travel insurance if I have cancer?

People with cancer can struggle to find travel insurance. If it is available, it is often more expensive than cover for someone without a pre-existing medical condition.

The reason for this is that you are deemed more likely to make a claim than someone without an illness.

You might, for example, need to cancel the holiday because of ill health or seek expensive medical treatment while you are away. In some circumstances, you might need to be repatriated to the UK from abroad, which can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

But it's not impossible to arrange travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition such as cancer. In this case, there are usually two options.

Some mainstream insurers will agree to insure your trip but will exclude cover for any claim that is related to cancer. If you have to cancel your trip because your condition makes you too ill to travel, you have to go to hospital on holiday for cancer treatment, or because of a cancer-related illness, then you will have to pay the cost out of your own pocket.

If you would prefer a more comprehensive cancer travel insurance policy, a number of specialist firms insure people with pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer. You should, however, be prepared to pay a higher premium because of the greater risk of a claim.

You will also have to answer questions about the cancer diagnosis, the stage and grade of your illness, and the prognosis. The insurer will also more than likely ask for a letter from your doctor to confirm that you are fit enough to travel. The premiums vary according to the severity of the cancer and the stage of treatment.

Traveller sitting in the sand

Can I get travel insurance if I have recovered from cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with cancer in the past but have now recovered from the disease, and are officially in remission, you might think it would be easy to buy travel insurance. However, it can still be tricky to find the right policy and you might need specialist cover.

Insurers differ in their approach, some might insure a patient who has been clear for three months while others might refuse cover for several years. But nearly all firms will insist on a letter from your doctor to confirm that you no longer have the disease and are well enough to travel.

You should always be open and honest about the state of your health and your medical history. If you fail to disclose any relevant details, your insurer can justifiably refuse to pay a claim or make your policy void - and that could prove to be very expensive.

Are there limitations on where I can travel to?

As a cancer patient, you shouldn’t be limited to a choice of destination, you should be able to travel to whichever destination you choose. However, it is worth considering that some countries have hefty medical costs, and therefore treatment can be pricey.

In fact, travel insurance for terminal cancer patients is usually more expensive if you are heading to the US. This is because of the high cost of medical bills in the country. If your cancer is incurable, you may not have the chance to obtain travel insurance for the US at all.

Therefore, it’s always wise to check with your insurance provider to find out to what extent you’ll be covered for your chosen destination.

What protection does a GHIC card offer?

A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) can grant you access to state-provided healthcare in Switzerland or in an EEA country. Hence, you would be able to receive the same level of treatment that any local resident would get for the same price. However, it is important to remember that GHIC is not a replacement for your travel insurance.

In fact, as opposed to travel insurance for cancer patients, GHIC will not cover medical expenses if you need to fly home to get the treatment you require.

What else do I need to consider?

  • Anyone who has cancer should seek advice from their doctor, consultant, or nurse before they travel. It is also wise to take with you any documents detailing your diagnosis, treatment, and medication, plus contact details for your doctor in the UK.

  • When you are planning your holiday, choose your destination with care. You don't necessarily want to sit on a long flight or undergo an arduous journey to a remote outpost with few creature comforts.

  • You should also consider the standard of healthcare in your chosen country. The local High Commission, Embassy, or Consulate should be able to help with information. Bear in mind that, if you choose a destination where you would need vaccinations, they could make you feel unwell if your immune system is already compromised. Ask your airline about any restrictions on carrying medical equipment and using medication. Also, ask your doctor for a letter confirming that you are fit to fly.

  • You might also need a letter to explain the presence of any pills or syringes in your luggage. Don't forget to take advice on dispensing your medication if you are travelling to a different time zone.

  • Check in early for any flight to allow time to discuss any issues and get you safely on board if your mobility is restricted.

  • People with some forms of cancer are more susceptible to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Therefore, make sure you take the necessary precautions when flying, such as wearing compression socks and moving about the aircraft (if possible). If you are taking medication, you should check the availability of your drugs overseas. Make sure to keep a note of the prescription in case your medicines are lost or stolen.

For more useful advice and travel tips, visit the Cancer Research UK website.

Where can I find more advice on travel insurance for cancer patients?

If you would like to read more travel tips and advice, there are plenty of handy resources online. Cancer charities often upload useful guidelines on their website to offer you the help you need.

For instance, Cancer Research UK has a full page dedicated to travel advice and information for cancer sufferers wishing to go abroad. You can also visit Macmillan’s website, where you will find valuable tips from people who are in a similar situation.

Looking for travel insurance for cancer patients?

If you’re a cancer sufferer looking for appropriate travel insurance, finding the right deal for you can be difficult. That’s where MoneySuperMarket comes in. We can find you plenty of options for travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions and make it easy to compare prices and policies from a range of leading insurers. Just provide us with a few details about you and your medical history, and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you still can’t find cover, it may be that your condition doesn’t align with our provider's requirements however, the Money and Pension Service (MaPs) have a list of specialist insurers that could give you some options to explore, visit their website or call them on 0800 138 7777.

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