Travel insurance for cancer patients

Searching online for travel insurance when you have cancer can be a challenge – you’ll see more choices than ever, thanks to specialist providers and larger companies who now assess people on a case by case basis. 

Searching online for travel insurance when you have cancer can be a challenge – you’ll see more choices than ever, thanks to specialist providers and larger companies who now assess people on a case by case basis. 

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
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Posted 22 FEBRUARY 2021

How easy is it to find travel insurance for cancer patients? 

For some people, it can be difficult to find the right travel insurance when diagnosed with cancer. This might be because living with cancer, and going into remission, is becoming more common. The NHS estimates that one in two people will get the disease during their lifetime. More encouragingly, Cancer Research UK states that cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years**.

With increased remission rates, it’s fair to expect that more products will come to market, with better and fairer provisions made for travellers with pre-existing medical conditions. But finding the right fit for your unique circumstances can sometimes seem overwhelming. That said, many insurance providers now assess people on a case-by-case basis instead of automatically refusing to cover them.

Comparing the types of cover most suited to your circumstances doesn’t need to be stressful and time-consuming. We can help steer you in the right direction with our fast, tailored comparison tool and tips for navigating through any complexity.

** Cancer Research UK, Accessed December 2020.


A travel traffic light system has been introduced for international travel. From 19 July 2021, trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. However, you’ll still need to fulfil any pre-departure requirements, such as testing. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant local authority.

If a country is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you’re aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and to check travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed at short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice for the latest information.

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red listed countries. Should you choose to travel against the FCDO rules, you will not be covered by any travel insurance policy you purchase. Some providers do offer cover for international travel if you’re travelling for essential purposes, however most do not. In all cases, should you have any queries please check the policy wording or contact your chosen provider before purchasing to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Find out more here

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has launched a directory of insurance providers on its Money Advice Service website that may be able to provide quotes over the phone, if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling the British Insurance Brokers’ Association on 0370 950 1790.

Can I get travel insurance if I have cancer?

While travel insurance is commonplace, not all policies will cover cancer-related claims. This means that you won’t be covered if you need cancer treatment in hospital while you’re abroad, or if you have to cancel your trip because you’re too unwell to travel for cancer-related reasons.

If you want a policy that covers your condition, you may have to use a specialist insurance provider who offers travel insurance tailored to people with cancer, especially if your prognosis is terminal. Alternatively, look for policies that do not have any exclusions for claims relating to medical conditions that have been declared up front – such as those offered on Compare the Market.

However, be prepared that you may have to pay a higher premium, as there’s a perceived greater risk of you having to making a claim. The cost of premiums can vary depending on the severity of your condition and the stage of treatment you’re at.

What do insurance providers need to know about my cancer?

If you have cancer or a pre-existing medical condition, your travel insurance needs to be carefully assessed. Ultimately, it pays to provide as much detail as you can, as honestly as you can, in case you ever need to make a claim.

Insurance providers may ask lots of questions, so if you’re in remission or know the state and grade of your illness, make sure you tell them as much as you can.

Insurance providers might ask about:

  • the type of cancer you have
  • whether the cancer has spread
  • the grade of the cancer
  • what treatment you’ve had and are currently undergoing
  • if you have prescription drugs to declare
  • what follow-up care you’re having
  • the prognosis – the outlook

You’ll also need a doctor’s letter saying you’re well enough to travel.

Does it matter where I travel to?

It might, as some places have high medical costs, so treatment can be more expensive. For example, medical costs in the US are typically high, so it might be more difficult to find affordable travel insurance if you’re planning to go there. Also, be aware that you might not be able to get travel insurance at all for the US if your cancer is incurable.

It’s best to run through some options with your preferred insurance provider before you purchase if you’re not sure whether you’ll be covered for your chosen destination.

What if I’m in remission from cancer?

It’s good to tell a potential insurance provider the full details of any treatments you’ve had in the past, or how long you’ve been in remission. Premiums can vary according to your condition’s status – both now and in the past.

If you no longer have cancer, you should be able to get travel insurance – although you may need a doctor’s certificate confirming your recovery and declaring you fit to travel. Some providers might only cover you if you’ve been cancer-free for a few months, or even years. It’s best to be honest about your past condition, even if you’re fully recovered. If you don’t tell your insurance provider, they could reject any claim you make and refuse to pay out.

Can a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) help if I have cancer?

After Brexit, where the UK officially left the EU with a deal in place, things have changed. You won’t be able to apply for an EHIC anymore but, if you already have one that was issued before the end of 2020, it’ll still be valid until the expiry date.

However, the UK government has introduced a replacement called the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). If you don’t have an EHIC, or once yours expires, you can apply for a GHIC here, and it should arrive within 10 days. The GHIC will offer the same cover as the EHIC did in EU countries.

Travel tips for cancer patients

  • Discuss destinations with your doctor and find out what vaccinations, if any, you may need
  • Check if the destination you’re visiting has any restrictions on medicines you can take into the country
  • Buy travel insurance as soon as you book your trip in case you need to cancel before you go
  • Let the airline know if you need any special assistance or specialist equipment, like oxygen
  • Make sure you have enough medicines to last the holiday
  • Get a doctor’s letter explaining your condition and a list of your medicines
  • Keep a prescription of your medicines in case they are lost or stolen

We can help you compare

We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to compare providers. You can now search based on your requirements and compare policies from across a range of insurance providers.

Our panel includes providers who can offer an online quote for most customers with pre-existing medical conditions, as well as specialist providers who can offer an offline quote.

Compare with us today and see if you could save on your travel insurance.

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