/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Has a medical condition affected your travel insurance?

Picture of dream holiday against stormy sky

There is nothing worse than going through the rigmarole of getting a quote, giving out all of your medical details, only to be told that the insurer is unable to provide you with cover for your condition.

What is even worse is if that provider doesn’t even bother to direct you to another insurer who would have been able to provide you with cover, leaving you high and dry.

Which? members have contacted us to tell us they have had trouble finding affordable cover for their condition, and some are unable to get any cover at all.

Cover for cancer patients

Among the main conditions they listed are heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol to name but a few. Just last week, Steve C told us:

‘My annual, worldwide travel insurance expires in March; last April I was diagnosed with bile duct cancer which requires on-going, palliative treatment. I’m planning my honeymoon for May. I doubt whether they will renew the policy once I tell them of my condition.’

A recent Which? travel insurance satisfaction survey found that 12% of members have been turned down for travel insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition and weren’t able to find cover.

A previous survey found that one in five people with a pre-existing medical condition had difficulty in obtaining travel insurance. Insurers also refused to insure 39% of people with a pre-existing medical condition and 66% of those that did receive quotes were offered a higher premium. Only 11% suggested using an alternative provider.

Finding alternative travel insurance cover

Under the terms of the signposting agreement introduced by the Government and insurers in April 2012, providers that are unable to provide a policy to older customers are obliged to direct them to an insurer who can offer them suitable cover.

So, if there is signposting on age, why is there no provision for pre-existing medical conditions?

Also, once you have found a quote for a policy that covers your condition, how competitive is that quote? Do you feel you’re better off going with one of the mainstream travel insurers on price alone or is it worth spending more on a specialist provider? If the latter, how do you feel the insurer adds value?

If your insurer won’t cover you with your pre-existing medical condition, should they be forced to signpost you to another?

Yes (80%, 481 Votes)

Don’t have a strong view (12%, 71 Votes)

No (8%, 51 Votes)

Total Voters: 603

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I was diagnosed with depression many years ago and until recently I never knew I had to declare it. Considering a fair percentage of the UK population suffer from anxiety or depressive disorders, I’m sure we’re used as a bit of a cash cow. In fact, some insurers won’t insure me at all despite being fit and well in all other aspects of my life. I’m sure a lot of sufferers are unaware and potentially not covered when they travel.

discodee says:
31 March 2015

I just discovered this. have suffered anxiety for yrs and didn’t know i had to declare it. Also have very mild asthma and didn’t relaise I had to declare that. However I found flexicover this year who added just £3 to the premium for both.
However I got the family policy for my husband 20 yr old daughter and 16 yr old son. son. my daughter suffers anxiety and has suffered depression. As a result the extra to her premium would have been £80!!! However I was allowed to exclude it from the policy and not pay anyextra. This means no claims relating to depression would be paid, but that won’t happen anyway, as you said.
The only flaw in this is, if you suffer say high blood pressure which you’d be so silly not to have covered AND depression, you can not have cover for one and not the other, thus bumping the policy sky high.
There should be a law that if you do not declare pre existing conditions you are just not covered for THOSE CONDITIONS ONLY and then you can declare just the ones you want cover for. It is a con to make you do all or nothing!


my mum who is 61 years old but 30 years old in her mind, has was diagnosed with severve copd, she was admitted into hospital in june 09 with an exberation of copd, she was hospitalized less than two months later and i must say alot lot worse, her sats dropped to 47 and me (her daughter) my brother and sister were called as things turned for the worse.she has to go home after a someone in the hospital recommended herbal clinic to us thankfully after three weeks and the shere determination of my mums will to live shes home, she was connected to oxygen 24hours a day, very tired,cant do things for herself. but shes alive!! this is a horrible condition for any human being to have to go thru but i can proudly say she is fully cure of COPD diease.

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barbara says:
12 February 2014

my husband has had several episodes of cellulitis in the past. The insurers WILL cover us but they EXCLUDE cover for any episode related to this condition. This is based on their written protocols, no communication from his doctor or specialist would make any difference

Jackie says:
9 September 2015

I have had severe cellulitis and the last episode I had was in March this year. Some friends of mine want to go to Majorca next year in May. I am wondering now if I will get any insurance cover at all after reading your post Barbara. I don’t want the cellulitis to prevent me from travelling anywhere.

Anne Armstrong says:
12 February 2014

I’m planning a trip to Canada in April but when I went to get ins had a shock that I couldn’t get any.I am over 70 but I consider myself fit and well.I had bowel cancer last year which was taken en masse so am clear so the hospital say,also I have asthma and emphysema which has been controlled for years and also controlled blood pressure.
I have two more firms to get in touch with and hope to find someone who will insure me.


I had angina that was resolved with a couple of stents a few years back. No problems since then health wise but declaration resulted in a refusal to cover with some and three fold increases in premiums elsewhere. Seems sometimes that it is any excuse to bump up the price

Margaret says:
15 February 2014

Try Aviva directly, we got single trip policy for us both at a fair price. We had this problem last year after my husband had a pacemaker fitted(3 stents and a heart attack many years ago as well) and after trying many sites including lots of the Which recommended sites we found that if we could get a quote at all it was nearly the cost of the holiday. Best of luck