Contacting insurance companies

Whether applying online or on the phone, it helps to have certain information ready when you start looking for travel insurance.

Insurance companies may need:

  • Your personal information – the names, ages and contact details of people you want to be insured by the policy.
  • Information about your trip – like the country your visiting, how long you plan to stay and the type of activities you’ll do while you’re there.
  • Medical information – insurers may ask the type and stage of your cancer, when you were diagnosed and any planned treatment you might have.
  • A ‘fit for travel’ letter from your doctor – some companies will use this as evidence that you’re well enough to travel.
  • Details of medical equipment – make sure your insurer will cover any special equipment you need to take.

You may also want to check whether you are covered for transportation home in a medical emergency (repatriation).

Always read the terms and conditions of your insurance carefully. And remember to take the policy document and helpline number with you on your trip.

Being prepared

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.

On this page, 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.

Personal information

  • 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.

Medical information

An insurance company 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.

An insurance company 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’re 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

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 company 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

If you need to take any special medical equipment with you on holiday, make sure your insurance will cover this.

Existing policies

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.



This 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 theironline application form.

Name of traveller(s):


Travelling to:

Length of trip:

Health conditions:

  • How long ago was the diagnosis:
  • Where is, or was, the cancer:
  • Has the cancer spread, and if so, where to:
  • Any current treatments or any treatment planned:
  • Any surgery in the past or planned:
  • Current medication:
  • Current symptoms and side effects:
  • How advanced is the cancer and is it terminal:
  • Details of GP/hospital/specialist visits in relation to the cancer in the last year:
  • Could the health of anyone else (either someone who is travelling with you or at home) possibly affect the planned trip?
  • Any medical equipment needed for travel?
  • Any winter sports, extreme sports or similar activities planned?

Our comparison table [PDF] can help you to 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.

If something goes wrong when you’re away

Make sure you take the insurance policy document and helpline number with you on your trip. If you become sick or injured while you’re abroad, you should do the following:

  • Find medical care and contact your travel insurance company as soon as possible. They may be able to help you find appropriate care.
  • Check whether you’re in a country covered by the EHIC card. If you are, take the card with you when you find medical care.
  • Contact your tour representative if you’re travelling on a package tour.
  • Contact your nearest national consular office if you need more help. To search for contact details, visit

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