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Travel insurance

Travel insurance provides you with compensation for anything that could go wrong while you are away on holiday.

The most important element of travel insurance is the medical expenses cover. If you are without cover and you travel to a country with high medical costs, or if you need to be flown back home in an emergency, the possible cost to you could be very high.

Can I travel abroad if I have a brain tumour?

It is strongly advised that you seek your doctor's advice on whether you are fit to fly before booking any travel arrangements.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which is responsible for air travel safety, states that because neurosurgery may leave gas (air) trapped within the skull, which may expand at altitude, it is advisable to avoid air travel for approximately 7 days following this type of procedure. Cancer Research UK advises that it can take up to 10 days for the air to dissolve away, whilst the NHS Choices website suggests you should allow six weeks after a craniotomy and four weeks after a brain biopsy. Different airlines may also have different rules, so it is advisable to talk to both your consultant and your airline first.

What type of cover?

Whether you have had a brain tumour or not, travel insurance costs vary depending on where you want to go. Additionally, every individual case can be affected by various factors, which can influence whether or not you can get travel insurance. You may have to try many companies before you can get travel insurance.

When taking out travel insurance you must fully disclose any information about existing or pre-existing medical conditions, even if you had a brain tumour a long time ago. If you do not, the insurance company can rightly claim that it was misinformed and may not pay out if you claim.

Insurers will need to know rather detailed information about you, your diagnosis and your planned trip. Common questions asked may include:

  • date of diagnosis
  • details of prognosis
  • details of treatment (if any)
  • fitness to travel, including the best time to travel (according to your consultant)
  • epilepsy details/treatment (if relevant)
  • details of destination (e.g. mainland/island)
  • length of planned trip.

Where can I get travel insurance if I have a brain tumour?

At The Brain Tumour Charity we do not recommend, and have not vetted, individual travel insurance companies. However, from feedback gathered from those who have been affected by a brain tumour, we have produced the following list of companies who may be able to help:

  • Insurancewith - 0203 296 761
  • Columbus direct - 0800 0680 060
  • Flexicover - 0800 093 9495
  • MIA - 01268 783 383
  • All Clear - 01708 339295
  • World First - 0845 908 0161

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The EHIC is essential for UK residents travelling in the EU as it covers you for emergency health care in that region. The EHIC does not cover the costs of any pre-planned medical treatment abroad in EU countries. It will only cover you for unforeseen medical needs.

You should always apply for EHIC in addition to, rather than instead of, travel insurance, as the EHIC may not cover all your costs.

Further resources

For more information on travelling with a brain tumour, see the Travelling Q&A document from Free Spirit.