There are some companies who specialise in providing cover for people who have had cancer, but you may experience some difficulty getting travel insurance because of your diagnosis. You may need to try several companies to get suitable cover.
If you do have problems, this can be frustrating and make you feel that you are being penalised for something beyond your control.
Be aware that your travel insurance will not cover you for any claim relating to your breast cancer and its treatment or any other pre-existing medical condition if you don’t inform the insurance company about it when you buy the policy.
Planning your trip
Check the cost of travel insurance before booking your holiday in case the cost of the insurance premium means you are unable to take the particular trip you want.
Some countries (such as European countries) are easier and cheaper to get cover for than others (such as the USA and Caribbean).
Allow plenty of time to get quotes as you may need to call a number of companies before you find suitable cover. Shop around as premiums and terms vary widely. There may be considerable differences in what some insurers are willing to cover compared to others.
You will need to give details of your medical history (your cancer and other medical conditions) to get a quote. This is known as medical screening. The insurer will use this information to work out if they are able to offer you a policy, what will be covered and how much it will cost.
Keep a note of the following:
- surgery – what type (for example mastectomy or wide local excision)?
- chemotherapy – do you know which drug combination you were given and when?
- hormone therapy – which drug are you taking (for example tamoxifen or anastrozole)?
- radiotherapy – have you had or will you be having this treatment?
- drugs – what types are you currently taking?
Some people find it difficult to talk about their breast cancer several times in one day. You might want to consider having a friend or relative with you while you do this or limit the number of companies you call in one day. Some people find it helpful to use an insurance broker to find a suitable insurance provider. A number of companies let you medically screen yourself online first. You may like to start with these to get an idea of the type of questions you may be asked.
You may need a doctor’s letter from either your hospital team or your GP (local doctor) confirming that you have had a diagnosis of breast cancer but are fit to travel. Some doctors may charge for this. You may also need a letter from your doctor confirming that it’s safe for you to travel while taking a particular medication.
If you’re travelling with someone who has a different policy from you then they too need to tell their travel insurance provider about your cancer or they may not be covered for cancellation or curtailment (cutting a holiday short) due to your illness.
If you have secondary breast cancer, some insurers may be unable to offer you cover. Read our information about travel insurance and secondary breast cancer.
Most insurers base their decision to offer cover on individual circumstances, so one person may be offered cover while another may not.
Check the policy wording carefully to make sure it covers your requirements. If there’s something you don’t understand you can contact the travel insurance provider and ask them to explain it.
If you’ve finished treatment and you’re unlikely to seek medical treatment because of your breast cancer while you are away, you may consider an insurance policy that excludes claims relating to your breast cancer. However, this incurs risks even if travelling in Europe with a European Health Insurance Care (EHIC) card – see below. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as being flown back to the UK. Therefore, it’s important to have both an EHIC and a valid travel insurance policy.
Taking this option not only excludes your breast cancer but any claims arising from the breast cancer or its treatment. For example, if you are taking tamoxifen as part of your breast cancer treatment and you have DVT (deep vein thrombosis) this would not be covered as it may have been caused by the tamoxifen. Speak to your GP (local doctor) or specialist team before considering excluding claims from a policy that relate to your breast cancer. You must still give your full medical details to the insurance company providing your cover.
If you have an existing annual travel insurance policy or free travel insurance (for example, through your bank) you should inform your insurer about your breast cancer diagnosis.
You can visit our online discussion Forum to see what people have to say about travel insurance companies based on their own experience of getting cover and making a claim.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you’re travelling to a country within the European Union (EU) there are mutual health arrangements that you can benefit from if you need medical care while you are on holiday. This will entitle you to free or reduced cost emergency treatment in the EU.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as being flown back to the UK. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid travel insurance policy.
You can apply for an EHIC free of charge:
- online at www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card
- via telephone on 0300 330 1350
- by post with an application form available to download from www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card.
You will normally receive your card within seven days using official processes. However, be aware of unofficial websites who may charge you if you apply through them.
Free emergency medical treatment is also available to UK residents in Australia and New Zealand through reciprocal health agreements.