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Travel Insurance and Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer UK has put together information and advice on travel and travel insurance to help make the route to your trip a little easier for you.

This information details general information regarding travel insurance and cancer. We also provides a list of insurance associations and a number of companies at the foot of this page who, as far as we are aware, will consider travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions, such as kidney cancer.

General information

Whether you obtain travel insurance when you go abroad is your own personal decision; however, you should bear in mind any potential medical expenses you may incur should you require treatment abroad, or if you need to cancel your trip beforehand due to health reasons (see examples below).

If you don’t have travel insurance, or if you take out a policy that excludes any cancer related issues, then the potential costs to you could be extremely high. This is particularly relevant if you are travelling to a country outside the European Union, or to a country with high treatment costs, such as the USA, or should you need to be flown home in an emergency (medical repatriation).

You should also consider the people who will be travelling with you. These people may need to be covered in case you are taken ill, either before you travel or during your trip. It is important that you read the policy carefully, as some insurers will not cover the other members of your party if they are insured separately, and they have not declared they are travelling with a person who has cancer.

Should you be taken ill while abroad and need medical repatriation back to the UK, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have provided the following examples of the costs that may be incurred:

  • Medical repatriation from North America: £25,000-£30,000
  • Medical repatriation from Europe: £5,000-£10,000

Additionally, in the event you are taken ill before your trip and are unable to travel, the level of cover reimbursed by insurance companies because of cancellations is typically £3,000 – £5,000 per claim. It is important to check the level of cover provided by your policy to avoid being underinsured in the event of a claim.

Please note: Kidney Cancer UK does not recommend any particular insurance company, broker or product. This information is intended as a guide to help you make your own informed decisions. We are passing this information on in good faith. Kidney Cancer UK has compiled this list from recommendations based on the experiences of cancer patients and their families, and from discussions with the relevant insurance associations.

Why is it sometimes difficult to obtain travel insurance if you have cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, an insurer will refer to this as a pre-existing condition. The insurer will ask you a number of questions about your cancer (this is known as medical screening). This helps them to assess the likelihood of you making a claim and the potential costs they may have to pay out. This is called an assessment of risk and is based primarily on their claims experience over a period of time, not just on your individual situation. Specialist insurers are therefore likely to have more claims data relating to the area they specialise in, and this helps them assess those risks more accurately. It may be a good idea, therefore, to have an outline of your medical history handy when you contact insurance companies for quotes, and to make sure you give all the companies the same details so you are comparing like with like.

Fortunately, many insurance companies are now looking at cases individually rather than refusing to insure everyone who has had cancer.

Travelling within the European Union

If you are a UK resident, you are entitled to medical treatment at reduced cost or sometimes free of charge, if it becomes necessary when temporarily visiting a European Union (EU) country, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Only treatment provided under the countries’ own state scheme is covered.

To do this, you will need to apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).  You can obtain one free of charge through NHS online.  This has replaced the old European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).  However, if you have an EHIC that is still in date, you will be able to continue to use it until it expires, after which you will need a GHIC.

Please remember: neither the GHIC nor the EHIC is a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK. 

Insurance Associations, Companies and Brokers

The companies listed below are intended as a guide only to help you make your own informed decisions. Kidney Cancer UK has compiled this list from the recommendations of patients and their families based on personal experience, and from discussions with the relevant insurance associations. We cannot guarantee that a company will definitely insure you. Please let us know your own experiences so we can update this list as necessary.

Insurance Companies

We would like to thank the Association of British Insurers (ABI), and patients who have helped us put this information sheet together.

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Patient Support

Whether you are recently diagnosed, undergoing or completed treatment for kidney cancer, are a carer, a friend or family of a kidney cancer patient, Kidney Cancer UK is here for you .

For further support call our Support Line to talk to a member of our Health team on 0800 002 9002.