Travel insurance

Cancer and travel insurance

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

Depending on the company and your situation, they may charge you more, or in some cases not offer to insure you, because you have a pre-existing condition.

Companies will differ about whether they can insure you and how much this will cost you. They will use the information available to them to make these decisions.

You may find it particularly difficult to get cover if you are currently having cancer treatment, or if you are terminally ill.

Insurance companies will try to predict the following when deciding whether to cover you and how much to charge:

  • 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 wish to apply directly to a specialist broker if you’ve been unwell recently or had to visit the hospital several times in the last year. Specialist brokers can look for travel insurance on your behalf and will be prepared to look at your circumstances in detail.

If you are well and your cancer experience was several years ago, some insurance companies may still require details of your medical history. But they would be more likely to give you a lower price for travel insurance. A history of cancer will not automatically affect the price you pay for travel insurance.

It’s important to speak with your doctor to make sure you are medically fit to travel. Even if your doctor agrees that you’re well enough to travel, an insurer may not be willing to take on the risk of you making a claim.

What insurance companies may offer

Depending on your situation and the company you speak with, it’s possible that they may not offer to insure you.

If the insurance company is willing to cover 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, and check with the provider if you are unsure. You will need to weigh up the risk of being without travel insurance cover if the unexpected happens.

If someone travelling with you has cancer

You need to tell the insurer about the health of someone close to you if it may affect your trip. For example, if your partner or relative has cancer, there is a risk 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 close relatives’ health. But you normally have to indicate you’ve read the terms and conditions of the policy. These may state that claims will not be covered if you ‘or any person whose condition may give rise to a claim’ are receiving or waiting for hospital treatment or have a terminal condition.

You should also tell the insurer of any change in your own condition, or that of a close relative, between taking out the insurance and travelling.

After disclosing the information about your partner or relative in advance, you may be able to claim the costs of cancelling the trip. This depends on the company and the policy. Speak with the company as early as possible to find out more about this, and make sure you check the terms and conditions of any policy carefully.