Travel insurance for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

Last minute changes to plans or urgent medical treatment are sadly common occurrences for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And, if these happen just before or during a holiday they could end up being financially costly if you don't have travel insurance which covers your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Getting insurance when you have IBD can be more complicated and expensive than for those without medical conditions as it's assumed there is a higher possibility you could get ill while away and need treatment.

In this article we take a look at why you need travel insurance to cover your condition and the process of getting it.

Why should I get travel insurance that covers my Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?

Almost all standard travel insurance policies don't cover conditions such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. If you don't have a policy which covers your condition then you won't be able to make a claim on your insurance if you need emergency treatment while on holiday or if you have to cancel your trip as a result of your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

As a result it is recommended that you get a specialist travel insurance policy which covers your Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and any other medical conditions you may have. It's best to take out insurance as soon after booking your trip as possible in case you need to cancel it before leaving as a result of getting unwell.

Is it possible for me to easily get travel insurance to cover my Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?

People with many different medical conditions are able to get travel insurance through specialist, and even some mainstream, insurance providers. You will probably be required to answer a series of questions about your condition and your health now and in the past. You may also need to speak to someone on the phone about your condition to answer additional questions. 

The insurance company will take into account a number of things - such as your age, the last time you had a flare, any recent hospitalisations or surgery, your current health, where you are travelling to and how long you are going away for.

Each decision is made on an individual basis so it is difficult to say how easy it will be for you to get insurance.

What is medical screening and why do I have to go through it?

Medical screening is the process in which an insurance companies ask you questions about your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. This screening helps them decide whether they can offer you travel insurance or not. The questions tend to be a series of multiple-choice or yes/no questions. Some of them are of a personal nature, but the answers you give will be confidential. You must answer the questions as accurately as you can. If you don't it may affect any claim you make on your travel insurance.

From the medical screening a risk score is calculated from the answers you give. A score is created for each of the medical conditions you disclose. This score may also be affected by where you are travelling to. When they have your final scores the insurance company will determine whether they can offer you travel insurance and on what terms.

What questions am I likely to be asked about my IBD?

You will be asked what medical condition(s) you have, how long you have had it for, if you've had any surgery and if you are on any medication. You may also be asked if you have ever been hospitalised and when that was as well as some other general questions about your health and your condition.

At this stage the insurance company will not seek to view your formal medical records. However, they may request them if you make a claim so it's important that you answer the questions as accurately as possible so as not to affect any claim you may make.

Do I need to provide a doctor’s letter to say I am fit to travel?

If you have had recent surgery or a hospital stay  for your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis you may require a letter from your doctor to confirm you are fit to travel. Make sure you leave plenty of time to allow you to obtain a letter before you travel.

Will my Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis affect the cost of my travel insurance?

Sadly the answer is that your travel insurance is likely to cost more than for someone without any medical conditions.

The cost may also be affected by the country you are travelling to due to different healthcare systems and costs around the world. It is suggested that you get quotes for travel insurance before booking your trip in case the cost of the insurance means you will be unable to afford the trip.

Why can't I buy travel insurance for my IBD online?

Many insurance providers will request that you call them if you try to buy travel insurance online and declare your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. They do this because they want to individually assess you. It's important to remember that just because you have been asked to call the provider it doesn't mean you won't be able to get travel insurance.

My IBD is in remission or under control - do I still need to declare it for travel insurance?

Even if your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is under control you should still declare it incase something changes will you are away and you need to access healthcare while on holiday.

I am currently awaiting tests for my IBD. Can I get travel insurance?

If you are currently undergoing tests for your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis many insurers will not provide cover until you have had the results of the tests back.

When should I take out a travel insurance policy for my IBD?

Ideally you should arrange travel insurance as soon as you have booked your holiday to make sure you are covered in case you need to cancel your trip.

In the event that your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis changes after you have got the insurance (such as having surgery or starting a new medication) you will probably need to inform your insurer.

Some people have an annual insurance policy. If you do you may need to contact your insurer each time you book a trip or holiday to inform them of any changes to your IBD.

Can I get travel insurance without covering my Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?

Some insurers are happy to do this. This means that anything directly or indirectly related to your IBD isn't covered. However, it is not advised that you do this. Healthcare in other countries can be very expensive and you could end up with a significant bill (in the tens of thousands of pounds) which you will need to pay if you don't have insurance.

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