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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.

It can be costly to get travel insurance if you have, or had, a brain tumour. This is because travel insurers weigh up the likelihood of an individual making a claim and consider many factors.

These include:

  • the chances of you cancelling your trip due to ill health
  • the likelihood of you having to seek medical assistance while away.

    If you’ve been affected by a high grade brain tumour, sometimes called malignant or cancerous tumours, some travel insurance companies will only give you medical insurance if you have a certificate from your doctor saying you’re fit enough to travel.

    If you’ve had treatment for a high grade tumour during the 12 months before your trip, some companies may only insure you for treatment or emergencies unrelated to your tumour. 

    This means you may be able to get travel insurance, but if you need treatment abroad as a result of your brain tumour, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

    Many companies won’t cover you if you’re having or waiting for medical tests or treatment or have not yet received a definite diagnosis. They also won’t cover you if you’re travelling against the advice of your doctor or if you’re travelling for treatment abroad.It’s important that you’re aware of what you are and aren’t covered for when taking out travel insurance.

    Does it matter where I'm travelling to?

    Whether you’ve had a brain tumour or not, travel insurance costs vary depending on where you want to go. For example, as medical costs in the USA are very high, it may be harder or more expensive to get cover for travel there. Additionally, there may be individual factors, specific to you, that can influence whether or not you can get travel insurance. You may have to try many companies before you can get travel insurance. 

    Full disclosure

    When taking out travel insurance, it’s vital that you fully disclose any information about existing or pre-existing medical conditions. Even if you had a brain tumour a long time ago, you’ll still need to disclose it.

    If you don’t make a full disclosure, the insurance company can rightly claim that it was misinformed and may not pay out if you need to make a claim. If you have an annual or multi-trip policy, you may also need to provide an updated confirmation certificate from your GP each time you travel. 

    If you have a terminal illness, or have been told you’re unfit to travel, then travel insurance companies may not provide you with cover.

    Insurers will need to know detailed information about you, your diagnosis and your planned trip. It can feel emotionally difficult to talk about some of this, so you may find it helpful to prepare yourself for the conversation. Perhaps note down answers on the areas you’re most likely to be asked about.

    Common questions asked may include:

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

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

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

    • Insurancewith

    T: 02038 296 761

    • Columbus Direct

    T: 0800 0680 060

    • Flexicover

    T: 0800 093 9495

    • MIA

    T: 01268 783 383

    • All Clear

    T: 01708 339295

    • World First 

    T: 0845 908 0161

    • Co-op Travel

    T: 0330 400 1626

    • Free Spirit Travel Insurance

    T: 02392 419 070

    You may also find it useful to compare medical travel insurance prices for pre-existing conditions using Moneysupermarket or Compare the Market.

    The European Health Insurance Card

    The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is essential for UK residents travelling in the EU as it covers you for emergency health care in that region. This health care isn’t necessarily the same entitlement that you’d have on the NHS - it depends on the particular country’s provisions.

    You’ll need to take your EHIC card with you when you travel if you want to benefit from these reciprocal health service agreements and you may be asked to show it. In addition to this, you may have to pay for some treatments at the time you receive them and then claim your money back later.

    The EHIC doesn’t cover the costs of any pre-planned medical treatment abroad in EU countries. It’ll only cover you for unforeseen medical needs.

    You should always apply for EHIC in addition to, rather than instead of, travel insurance. This is because the EHIC will not cover all costs you may incur, such as private treatment (if you can only get to a private clinic in an emergency). Nor will it cover extra accommodation costs, whereas travel insurance would usually cover this.

    If you have travel insurance, you still need an EHIC because your insurance company may not cover the cost of treatment that the EHIC covers. If you try to claim in full and don’t have a card they may not cover all your costs.

    You can apply for an EHIC for free online from or from your post office.

    If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, your EHIC might not be valid anymore. Make sure you buy travel insurance that comes with healthcare cover before you travel. The rules for passports, driving, pet travel and more may also change.

    Get support

    If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.

    Share your experiences and help create change

    By taking part in our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys and sharing your experiences, you can help us improve treatment and care for everyone affected by a brain tumour.

    If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:

    Support and Information Services

    0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)

    Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00

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