How cancer can affect getting travel insurance

Having cancer can affect buying travel insurance. Recent health problems are known as pre-existing conditions. Insurers assess your personal information to estimate how likely you are to cancel your holiday due to your condition. They will also predict the potential cost of treatment abroad.

Be open about your health and ask travel insurance providers for their guidance – their approach may vary. Depending on your individual circumstances, it’s possible that they may not insure you. Alternatively, they may offer you travel insurance with their usual terms and conditions, or with:

  • a higher premium (the amount you pay for travel insurance)
  • an excess (an amount you pay if you make a claim)
  • a cancer-related exclusion.

A cancer-related exclusion means you won’t be covered for any claims related to your cancer. The terms and conditions of the policy may also refer to someone else who might cause you to make a claim. This means you need to tell the insurance company if someone else’s health may affect your trip – for example, your partner, relative or friend.

Always check with your provider what you are and aren’t covered for.

Travel insurance when you have a pre-existing condition

When you already have a health problem before buying travel insurance, travel insurance providers call this a pre-existing condition.

Providers typically consider pre-existing conditions to be:

  • any serious condition such as cancer, heart trouble or respiratory problems
  • any conditions you have seen a doctor about in the last year, including minor ones
  • any condition you are waiting for test results for
  • any condition you are waiting for an operation on.

You should tell travel insurance providers about any of these that apply to you and ask for their guidance. If you don’t tell them about any health problems, whether related to cancer or not, they may later refuse any claim you make.

Depending on the travel insurance provider and your situation, they may charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition.

Sometimes, they may not offer to insure you at all. Providers will differ about whether they can insure you and how much it will cost. They will use the information you’ve given them to make these decisions. You may find it particularly difficult to get insured if you are currently having cancer treatment, or if you are terminally ill.

When deciding whether to cover you and how much to charge, insurance providers will try to predict:

  • how likely you are to cancel your holiday due to illness
  • the potential cost of treatment you might have abroad, especially in the USA where treatment is more expensive.

You may want to apply through an insurance broker if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. Brokers can take your details and then search insurance providers on your behalf.

Even if you had cancer a long time ago, it is important to let the insurance provider know, although this may not necessarily affect the price you pay.

It’s important to speak with your doctor to make sure you are medically fit to travel. Some travel insurance providers may not offer cover even if your doctor has said you’re medically fit to travel.

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What insurance companies may offer

Depending on your situation and the insurance company, it’s possible that they may not offer to insure you. If the company is willing to insure you, they may offer you travel insurance:

  • within their usual terms and conditions
  • with a higher premium because you have or have had cancer
  • with an excess
  • with a cancer-related exclusion.


Cancer-related exclusion

If your travel insurance policy applies a cancer-related exclusion, this means you would not be covered for any claims related to your cancer. Whether or not you are comfortable with this will depend on your situation. If your insurance provider applies an exclusion, you should make sure you understand exactly what you are and aren’t covered for.

Always check with the provider if you are unsure. You’ll need to consider the risk of being without travel insurance if something goes wrong when you’re away.


If someone close to you has cancer

You need to tell the insurance company if someone else’s health may affect your trip – for example, if your partner, relative or friend has cancer. This applies to someone travelling with you or someone at home. This is because there is a risk that your trip may have to be cancelled or cut short because of their health.

There are often no specific questions on travel insurance application forms about the health of someone you know. But the terms and conditions of the policy may refer to someone else who might cause you to make a claim. So it’s really important to read the terms and conditions carefully.

You should also tell the provider if there are any health changes between taking out the insurance and travelling. This includes any changes in the health of the person you know with cancer, and your own.

If you give all this information to your insurance company in advance, you may be able to claim the costs of cancelling the trip. This depends on the company and the policy. Ask the company as early as possible about this.

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