Finding travel insurance cover
This page explains where you can find contact details for travel insurance providers. We also have general information about getting travel insurance.
By researching and asking around, you may be able to find travel insurance providers that can cover you.
Some providers specialise in providing travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Others are general travel insurance companies.
Specialist companies are more likely to be able to provide you with full cover that includes problems related to your cancer. But in some situations, for example, if you had cancer many years ago, a number of standard travel insurance providers may be able to help.
Visit Macmillan’s online community
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The first place we would suggest checking is Macmillan’s online community.
This is a free online forum for people affected by cancer. Travel insurance is one of the most widely discussed topics on the community. By reading the conversations happening there, you can find out which providers people are recommending.
You do not have to join to read what people are saying.
We have set up a conversation on the online community where we encourage you to share your experiences of getting travel insurance and recommend companies.
Find insurance through a broker
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Insurance brokers do not offer insurance directly. Instead, they try to find a suitable travel insurance provider for you. You can find a qualified and regulated insurance broker through the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA).
Search for companies online
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If you have time, researching online could help you to find cheaper travel insurance. Try to compare as many quotes as possible.
Remember that price is not the only factor to consider, as you’ll also need to check the insurance is suitable for your needs.
Helpful web pages
Below are some useful pages that can help you start your search:
Which? – features a comparison table comparing cover for people with different medical conditions.
Money Saving Expert – includes general tips about buying travel insurance as well as some information for people with pre-existing conditions.
Money Advice Service – gives general tips about what to look for in insurance policies and some information for people with medical conditions.
The Association of British Insurers – you can find answers to commonly asked questions about getting travel insurance on its website.
You can search online for travel insurance comparison websites.
Comparison websites allow you to compare deals from different providers. This can be a quick way to search for relevant quotes.
Some of these websites allow you to enter details of your medical condition before you search, which means you will only see quotes that are relevant to you.
Remember that not all providers sell their insurance through comparison websites, so this will not show you all the providers that could help. Comparison websites are a good starting point but they focus on price. It’s important to check the quality of the cover and whether it fits your situation – always read the details of the policy before buying it, to make sure it suits your needs.
Another way to look for travel insurance providers online is simply to type relevant terms into a search engine. For example: ‘prostate cancer travel insurance’. This usually brings up a mixture of information pages and providers offering travel insurance, some of which may be worth considering.
When searching in this way, you should check that any organisations you aren’t familiar with are trustworthy. Legitimate companies will be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and will have an FCA number displayed on their website. On the FCA website you can type this number into the Financial Services Register to check the firm is allowed to do business.
Other ways of checking deals
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While they do not always have suitable offers for people with pre-existing conditions, you can ask for insurance quotes from:
supermarkets (they may have information leaflets about their insurance in stores)
your credit card company
Some people automatically have some degree of travel insurance cover through their bank accounts. This generally applies to people with ‘premium’ bank accounts where they pay a small fee each month.
When the account is set up, medical questions aren’t usually asked and it is the account holder’s responsibility to declare pre-existing conditions. This cover will not automatically include problems related to your cancer, so check with your bank to find out exactly what it includes and whether the cover can be expanded.
The bank may allow you to pay a top-up fee so that you are fully covered. This may be cheaper than buying travel insurance separately.
Ways of applying for travel insurance
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Many insurance companies now allow you to apply for travel insurance, and give your medical details, through an online form. Others will need to speak with you on the phone. If you phone companies, there may be call charges and you may be on hold for a long time. Calling from a mobile phone may be more expensive.
If you are concerned about the cost of calls from your landline, the website saynoto0870.com may help you find cheaper alternative phone numbers. These numbers let you reach the same companies for less. Expensive phone numbers often start with numbers that don’t match a local area, for example, 0870 or 0845.
Contacting insurance companies - what to have ready
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It will make your search easier if you have certain information ready when you start looking for travel insurance.
Whether you apply through an online form or on the phone, you may need to answer some difficult or upsetting questions. For example, the company may ask about the likely outcome of your cancer (the prognosis). The company may do this so it can decide whether it needs to ask you for more medical information.
Depending on how you feel about answering these questions, you may want to get quotes from only a couple of insurance companies at a time.
Below, we’ve included some of the things an insurance provider will want to know and also some of the things you might want to ask them. We also have a checklist where you can write down your answers to these questions to help you prepare for contacting companies.
The names and ages of all the people you want to be insured by the policy. Some insurance companies will insist that family or friends travelling with you are insured on the same policy.
Your address and contact details.
Information about your trip
The country you’re visiting, and the length and type of journey you plan to take. If you have a choice about where you travel, you may want to consider visiting Europe rather than North America because the travel insurance could be cheaper.
How long you plan to stay abroad.
How far in advance you’re booking your trip. Some companies will charge you a higher premium if it’s a long time until you go away. This is because they believe there could be a higher risk of you making a claim for cancellation.
Any activities you’ll be doing that might be considered a higher risk, such as skiing or other winter sports. In this case, you will need to get special winter sports cover.
A travel insurance provider may ask whether you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as cancer. If your answer is ‘yes’, you are likely to be asked more questions about this. Some companies call this their medical screening process.
A travel insurance provider may ask you the following questions:
How long ago were you diagnosed with cancer?
Where is/was your cancer?
Has your cancer spread? If so, where has it spread to?
Are you having treatment or taking any medication at the moment? This can have a big effect on the premium you’re quoted. If possible, it’s worth thinking about delaying your travel plans or limiting how far you travel, until after your treatment finishes.
Have you had any surgery for cancer before?
Do you have any planned treatment for cancer? If so, when?
How many times have you seen a doctor (GP or cancer specialist) about your cancer? Some companies may ask you about the last time you visited your doctor for any reason, not just about visits related to your cancer.
What symptoms or side effects do you have now?
How advanced is your cancer? Some companies will ask you about your prognosis. This can be an upsetting question to answer, but prognosis may be one of the criteria that a company uses to decide who to cover.
A medical screening process over the phone usually takes 5–10 minutes. If you have, or have had, other conditions as well as cancer, you may be asked similar questions about these. If you don’t tell the company the information you are reasonably expected to know when you buy a policy, any claim you make could be refused.
It’s important to tell travel insurance providers about any health conditions that affect you or the people you are travelling with.
Different companies assess the results of the medical screening process in different ways. They will probably also differ in how much cover they’ll offer you. So it can be worth comparing offers from different insurance companies or getting advice from an insurance broker. Brokers don’t supply insurance themselves, but they can do the search for you.
‘Fit for travel’ letter from your doctor
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Some companies will ask for a letter from your doctor that says you’re well enough to travel. GPs can charge you for this letter. They may be more likely to charge if the travel insurance provider contacts them to ask for a letter, so it’s often best to ask your GP yourself. It may save time if you get the letter before contacting insurance companies.
Taking medical equipment abroad
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If you need to take any special medical equipment with you on holiday, make sure your insurance will cover this.
You may already have travel insurance, for example a policy attached to your bank account. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully. The policy may not cover pre-existing medical conditions. You should let the company know if you have a pre-existing condition as this may affect your cover.
Repatriation means being transported home in an emergency. This may be covered by your travel insurance but the European Health Insurance Card (see below) will not pay for it.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles UK residents to free or reduced-cost emergency treatment when temporarily visiting certain European countries. You will get the same care as the people who live in the country you’re visiting. This may not be the same as the care you’d expect from the NHS.
Some countries expect you to pay your bill when you’re treated and then claim a refund with your EHIC. You should try to apply for a refund before you return to the UK. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical costs, travelling to a country for health treatment, repatriation or help getting back to the UK.
Travel insurance companies may offer a discount if you have an EHIC and are travelling to a country where it is valid. Some travel insurance providers will require you to have one before they can insure you.
You can find more information about the EHIC and health advice for travellers online. Visit nhs.uk/healthcareabroad if you live in England, Scotland or Wales or nidirect.gov.uk/travelling-abroad if you live in Northern Ireland. These websites explain which countries are covered by the EHIC. They also have information about non-EU countries that have mutual agreements to provide health services to visitors from the UK.
An EHIC lasts for five years once issued. If you already have an EHIC, check the expiry date to see if you need to renew it. You can apply for an EHIC, or renew an outdated card:
online at nhs.uk/ehic
by post, using an application form you download from the website
by phoning the automated EHIC application service on 0300 330 1350.
Your card will normally arrive within seven days. The EHIC is free and renewals are also free. You should avoid any websites that charge you to apply for an EHIC or to renew it for you.
Checklist and comparison table
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To help you search for travel insurance cover, we've created this checklist and comparison table [PDF] for you to download and print.
The checklist includes some common questions travel insurance providers may ask you. Writing down your answers in advance could help you prepare for calling them, or for filling in their online application form.
The comparison table lets you compare the policies and quotes of different insurance providers. You can write down the contact details of each provider and some of the important aspects of their policy. In the final rows, you can compare the excess costs and the quotes that different providers give you. This may help you consider the best insurance policy for your situation.
This section has been compiled using information from a number of reliable resources, including: