Travel insurance for heart conditions

Just because you have a heart condition, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a relaxing holiday. While it can make travel insurance more expensive, finding the right cover means you can rest easy knowing you’ll be taken care of if anything goes wrong.

Just because you have a heart condition, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a relaxing holiday. While it can make travel insurance more expensive, finding the right cover means you can rest easy knowing you’ll be taken care of if anything goes wrong.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Posted 31 DECMBER 2021 Last Updated 12 MAY 2022

Can I get travel insurance with a heart condition?

Yes. Providing your doctor has cleared you for travel, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get insurance. The best place to start is with an insurance provider who insures people with pre-existing conditions.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

What heart conditions can travel insurance cover?

Providers that offer insurance for pre-existing conditions can cover many types of heart condition, including:

  • angina
  • arrhythmia
  • atrial fibrillation
  • high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • heart attack/myocardial infarction
  • cardiomyopathy
  • blocked or narrowed arteries
  • valve disease
  • aortic aneurysm
  • heart failure
  • aortic stenosis
  • heart bypass
  • vascular disease

Make sure your travel insurance policy covers all the conditions that relate to your heart and circulation. If your health takes an unexpected turn for the worse while you’re away, you don’t want to be left footing the bill for your medical treatment just because you weren’t fully covered.

Isn’t standard travel insurance good enough?

Many non-specialist travel insurance providers are reluctant to offer cover to anyone with pre-existing medical conditions – that is, anything that’s been diagnosed before you apply for insurance, such as having had a heart attack. It’s because people with pre-existing conditions are considered more likely to make a claim.

Providers always ask that you specify any health conditions before taking out a travel policy. If you do make a claim relating to a pre-existing health condition you didn’t mention, you won’t be able to claim and your policy may be invalid.

The NHS also recommends declaring all past and present health conditions to make sure you get the specific travel insurance for your needs.

If you can’t find insurance from a mainstream provider because of a heart condition, that doesn’t mean you need to travel without cover, or that you don’t go at all. There are lots of specialist providers with travel insurance for people with health conditions. They don’t have to cost the earth either, just make sure you’re comparing policies and don’t be tempted to take the first one you see.

What’s covered by heart condition travel insurance?

It can vary, but a travel insurance policy for pre-existing conditions will usually provide cover for the same things as regular policies, including:

  • cancellation, delays or cutting your trip short
  • theft or loss of your personal belongings
  • medical expenses and repatriation
  • personal liability
  • emergency assistance.

The type of cover you need will depend on where you’re going, the activities you’ll be doing and how long you’re going for. You can choose travel insurance for a single trip or annual multi-trip insurance if you’re planning to take more than one trip in a year.

What questions might you be asked about your heart condition?

When you apply for travel insurance for a heart condition, you’ll be asked to answer a medical questionnaire about your health. This is so you can get suitable quotes based on your level of risk. Common questions include:

  • Have you ever been a smoker?
  • Have you been advised to take medication for high blood pressure?
  • Have you ever had a heart bypass, an angioplasty or a coronary stent?
  • Do you suffer from atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)?
  • How many (if any) heart attacks have you had?
  • Can you always walk a short distance on the flat with no chest pain, tightness or breathlessness?

Always answer truthfully and give as much information as possible about your heart condition so you get the cover you need.

With insurance, honesty is always the best policy so don’t be tempted to leave any information out. If anything changes to do with your health, let your insurance provider know as this could alter your policy and the price you pay.

How can I travel safely with a heart condition?

The NHS suggests prepping at least four to six weeks before you travel to research your destination, and to sort out your travel insurance and any pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). To keep safe, it’s also worth taking a few other precautions:

  • See your doctor – get advice from your doctor to make sure you’re getting the right insurance cover for your condition and to make sure you’re okay to travel.
  • Check for local healthcare – scope out the nearest hospital before you book your trip. While a hospital doesn’t need to dictate exactly where you stay, it’s a good idea to stay close to a doctor, just in case.
  • Pack your medication – always bring extra medication and spread it between your suitcase and hand luggage so you have plenty to tide you over in case one is lost.
  • Bring any pacemaker documents – if you have a pacemaker, you’ll need to notify the airport’s security staff so it doesn’t set off the metal detectors. Scanners with magnets should also be avoided as they can sometimes interfere with a pacemaker’s technology.
  • Avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – some heart conditions put you at a greater risk of getting DVT while flying. You can get compression socks for your flight, which should reduce the risk of blood clots, as well as doing gentle leg exercises while you’re in the air. If you’re worried about your risk of DVT, speak to your GP before your trip, as they may be able to prescribe blood-thinning drugs.
  • Keep travel insurance paperwork handy – it’s important you know where your travel insurance documents are, particularly if there’s an emergency. Pack two copies separately in case you lose one.
  • Try to relax – to get to the holiday, you have to get through the travel first. Rest when necessary, stay hydrated and, where possible, get assistance to and from gates and planes.

Above all, remember it’s your holiday and you’re going away for a reason - to relax, have a break, and make some memories. While you don’t want to get bogged down in admin before you go, the more you can plan and prepare for your trip, the less the chance there is of getting a nasty surprise if you do need to make a claim.

What happens if I need medical treatment abroad?

If you need medical care while you’re away, you should get in touch with your insurance provider as soon as possible to confirm you’re covered. You may be asked to pay upfront for your treatment, but you can claim back the cost once you’ve returned home. It’s always handy to have some cash for this, or an emergency credit card on hand. Be sure to get receipts for any medical expenses.

It's also a good idea to take recent doctors’ letters and test results, like ECGs, with you so you can show them to healthcare professionals treating you, if necessary.

If you're travelling in Europe, remember to pack your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or its replacement, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This entitles UK residents to free or reduced-cost state emergency healthcare in EU countries. It’s not a substitute for travel insurance though.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to tell my insurance provider if I have high blood pressure?

Yes, you should always tell your travel insurance provider about high blood pressure, even if it’s under control with medication. If you don’t, you might not have a policy that covers pre-existing medical conditions. This means your provider would have a case for not paying out if you had to claim for something related to your blood pressure.

When can I fly after a heart attack?

There are no set rules on this, but the UK Civil Aviation Authority recommends that people with no complications can fly seven to 10 days after a heart attack. It’s always best to check with your GP or heart specialist first, though. And check with your tour operator, airline and travel insurance provider before you jet off as they might have their own policies on flying after a heart attack.

Does having a stent fitted affect travel insurance?

If you’ve undergone an angioplasty procedure or had a heart stent fitted, this will be classed as having a pre-existing medical condition for insurance purposes. You must declare this when applying for travel insurance – otherwise you could have a claim rejected.

Can I go to a hot country with a heart condition?

Hot weather can put extra strain on your heart, so it’s important to take care in extreme temperatures. If you’re somewhere hot, keep hydrated, wear a sun hat and try to stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

Can you get travel insurance for children with heart conditions?

Yes, children who have heart conditions can be covered. You’ll need to declare their conditions when you’re comparing travel insurance. You should be able to add them to your family travel policy, although be aware that pre-existing conditions will add to the cost.

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