Cancer: Which Travel Insurance?

Alexandre Desoutter Alexandre Desoutter  updated on March 24, 2020

Do you have (or have you had) cancer and would like to get travel insurance for your coming trip in case you face medical expenses abroad?

Travel insurance that covers  cancer treatment can be hard to find or very expensive. But you’ve come to the right place. 

In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about cancer travel insurance: is cancer travel insurance compulsory? What specific medical cover should you get if you have or have had cancer? What are the best cancer travel insurance companies and how much will you pay? Let’s dive in!

Why do I need travel insurance if I have (or have had) cancer?

Travel insurance for cancer patients is not compulsory. 

However, you should know that your national healthcare cover, your European Health Insurance Card (if you are travelling in Europe), your credit card travel insurance or any other kind of assistance you would have as a country resident or citizen, may not be sufficient to cover any medical expenses you may have abroad.

Some countries may ask for valid proof of travel insurance to deliver visas, whether you have pre-existing medical conditions or not. 

Much more than a nice-to-have, travel insurance is one of the highest value-for-money insurance products, especially for people with cancer.

A recent study from Which has shown that in around 10000 UK travellers in 2018, 64% of them have already had medical treatment while travelling abroad. The average spend of medical care abroad is around £1300. But it can be much more. 

As a cancer sufferer, you may especially face expenses such as:

What if…What you will pay without travel insurance (outside Europe)What you will pay without travel insurance (in Europe with EHIC card)What you will pay with travel insurance
My trip is cancelled due to an unexpected medical appointment for cancer£10,000£10,000£0
up to trip cancellation limit (minus excess)
I need specific cancer treatment abroad (chemotherapy, radiotherapy etc.)£30,000£0 £0
up to medical compensation limit (minus excess)
I need to be repatriated to the UK for specific cancer treatment£100,000£30,000£0
up to repatriation compensation limit (minus excess)
What is covered by medical travel insurance

Travelling in Europe, what does my European Health Insurance Card cover?

As a current or former cancer sufferer, always remember that while travelling in Europe, your first ally is your EHIC card. Your EHIC card will cover for any treatment you may need abroad, including any treatment linked to a pre-existing cancer. 

What is covered by EHIC?What is not covered by EHIC
  • Any treatment of a pre-existing or chronic medical condition such as cancer while abroad
  • Any routine medical care for cancer or other pre-existing medical condition if monitoring is needed
  • Any maternity care
  • Any private treatment
  • Any repatriation expense
  • Any emergency rescue (air rescue from ski station, for instance)
  • Any treatment on cruisesAny specialist consultation
What exactly is covered by my EHIC

Remember that your EHIC will only cover you until 31/12/2020, the time of Brexit. Make sure you have both EHIC and travel insurance before travelling. Many insurers will ask you to get your EHIC if travelling in Europe, and would waive the excess if you have a valid card with you.

If you are going to Australia or New Zealand, the UK also has specific healthcare system cooperation programs. 

For any specific information on the European Health Insurance Card, check out the NHS website.

Can I easily get travel insurance with or after cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, whether you are in remission or not, you may find it difficult to find cheap cancer travel insurance that will cover you for your trip without major exclusions. 

Getting travel insurance after cancer can indeed be very time-consuming and you could end up paying three or four times the price people without a medical history would pay for a standard cover policy.

Unfortunately, insurers will see you as being at higher risk of making a claim such as:

  • Cancelling your trip for reasons due to cancer, such as an important medical appointment being postponed
  • Needing expensive medical treatment linked to your cancer while travelling abroad
  • Needing repatriation to the UK.

We all agree that this is unfair, especially, for example, if you are in a very stable condition. But don’t worry, some insurers – fortunately – have agreed to cover people at higher risk. You could get travel insurance post cancer either through:

  • Companies that will provide you with standard cover as they would do for any other tourist, but may invalidate any claim due to your treated cancer (if you are sure about your recovery and only need cover for a few days trip, for example); 
  • Or specialised travel insurance for cancer sufferers (or other existing medical conditions).

We are here to help you find the best and cheapest travel insurance after cancer surgery depending on your current medical condition, your age, the length and destination of your trip, etc. 

What are the best travel insurance policies for cancer patients?

You will find below a list of specialist travel insurance policies for cancer patients – as well as for those with other pre-existing medical conditions – who will provide you with good cover and dedicated assistance. 

Travel insurerPriceFeatures
logo world first£13,18
  • Age limit – single trip: 100 / annual: 79
  • 5 stars Defaqto rating
  • 4,8/5 on TrustPilot
  • Reimburse within 14 days
  • UK-based customer service and claim team
logo travel insurance 4 medical 2£14,24
  • Age limit – single trip: 100 / annual: 79
  • Specialist of medical travel insurance
  • 24/7 UK based call assistance center
  • 5 stars Defaqto rating and 4,8 on Trustpilot
logo explorer travel insurance£14,78
  • Age limit – single trip : none / annual: 79
  • 4,58/5 rate on Reviews
  • Dedicated customer service according to reviews
logo staysure£15,56
  • No upper age limit
logo fit2travel£16,12
  • Age limit –- 85 years old for both policies
  • Specialist of medical travel insurance
logo aa travel insurance£18,27
  • Age limit – single trip: none / annual: 79
  • No change in health clause after purchase
  • Medical expenses limit up to £15M
  • Covers terminal cancer
logo insure and go£21,43
  • No upper age limit
  • One of the leader in providing travel insurance in UK
logo all clear£25,99
  • No upper age limit
  • Specialist of medical travel insurance
  • Covers any condition
  • Up to £15M medical expenses
  • 5 stars rating on Defaqto
logo ok to travel£26,32
  • No upper age limit for both single and annual multi-trip
  • Specialist of medical travel insurance
  • Covers any condition
logo good2go£28,44
  • No upper age limit
  • Specialist of medical travel insurance
logo free spirit£29,18
  • No upper age limit
  • Specialist of medical travel insurance
  • Convalescence benefit covering 5 days after surgery abroad
cooperative logo£33,27
  • No upper age limit
  • Offers cashless medical expenses
logo freedom insurance£39,18
  • Age limit – single trip: 85 / annual: 75
  • No health change disclosure
Pre-existing medical condition travel insurances comparison

All the above insurers are specialists in covering pre-existing medical conditions. Unless it is clearly mentioned in the features, they all use the Verisk screening system and apply a change in health disclosure in their policy which will allow them to inflate premiums and change or cancel your travel insurance policy if an unexpected event related to your healthcare occurs before your trip.

Find out more cheap travel insurance for cancer with our 100% anonymous tool.

Do I need to declare cancer for travel insurance?

You are required by law to declare any pre-existing medical condition when purchasing an insurance policy. 

A pre-existing medical condition is typically one for which you have been diagnosed and have received treatment before you apply for any travel insurance policy, regardless of whether this is short- or long-term. 

Therefore, cancer counts as a pre-existing medical condition. You are therefore required to declare your cancer to your insurer, whether you are in remission or not.

Not disclosing your cancer could invalidate your claim as well as your entire travel insurance policy.

How does cancer screening for travel insurance work?

If you have cancer, or any pre-medical condition, you are more likely to be screened before applying for a policy. 

On insurers’ websites, you’ll be asked to answer a set of questions administered most of the time by the Verisk medical screening system before getting quote results. Some insurers may have their own set of questions and may attribute their risk rating based on your answers. 

Do you have or have you had cancer? Here is the list of questions you will most probably be asked to answer when purchasing travel insurance covering cancer:

Screening questionsAnswer
Lead traveller’s medical conditioncancer

Has there ever been a spread of your cancer to any other part of the body?

Yes, my cancer has spread to lymph nodes only
Yes – but to other parts of the body

How long ago was your last cancer treatment for this condition?

Within X months or years
My cancer treatment has not started yet
I have chosen not to proceed with any cancer treatment

How long ago was your last cancer treatment for this condition?

Within X months or years
My cancer treatment has not started yet
I have chosen not to proceed with any cancer treatment

Has the cancer been completely removed or destroyed?

Yes / No / I am waiting for these results

Is there any further cancer treatment planned?

Chemotherapy tablets
Chemotherapy injected into a vein
Any other treatment
More than one type of treatment
Preventive medication only, e.g. tamoxifen or raloxifene

Were you offered any surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy but chose not to proceed?

Yes or No

Screening for travel insurance

The below list of screening questions is not exhaustive and may vary depending on your specific answer to each of the question.

Those questions are the most common ones you may find on insurer’s websites. In the case that there is no screening system on an insurer’s website, you will need to disclose any health condition by contacting your insurer directly.

How much is cancer travel insurance? 

Here are some indicative quotes for single trip and annual travel insurance for cancer patients:

7 days’ trip to Europe*
18-35 years old £28,50
36-55 years old £35,04
56+  £113,45
cancer travel insurance price

*Quotes above are only indicative and for cancer with no recent complications.

It is quite difficult to give precise ranges of how much cancer care travel insurance is. Prices are based on a wide range of criteria and will not only depend on your pre-existing medical condition, but also:

  • Your age and destination
  • If you’re going for a single or annual multi-trip, as mentioned above
  • If you’re subscribing to upgrades such as cruise, business or gadget cover
  • The length of your stay abroad
  • If you’re travelling alone, with your partner, a group or your family
  • The financial limits you’d like to get in case of a claim
  • The excess amount you’re willing to pay
  • What you will be doing abroad (e.g. winter or extreme sports).

What is usually covered by cancer travel insurance?

Insurers covering a pre-existing medical condition such as cancer often provide a high compensation amount for trip cancellation, medical expenses and repatriation. 

Here is a typical list of what you should pay attention to while applying for cancer travel insurance cover: 

CompensationAverageWhat you should pay attention to
Medical expenses compensation amountFrom £5M to £10M
depending on your medical situation and your destination
  • Are surgery and stays at private hospitals included?
  • Will I need to pay for medical fees upfront?
  • What kind of treatment is included (cancer screening, oncology consult, etc.)?
  • Is any kind of emergency treatment included?
  • Will any ‘accompanying person’ fees be reimbursed (extra travel, accomodation, car rental)?
  • What is the excess you’ll have to pay for a medical claim?
  • Do you have the option to choose a no excess policy?
Repatriation compensation amountReal fees
  • Is any transportation mode included (by alternative schedule flight or by air ambulance)?
  • Is repatriation under the supervision of a nurse or a doctor taken into account?
Trip cancellation£5000 – £10000 depending on your destination
  • Is trip cancellation included as standard or as an option?
  • Which reasons exactly are included to get compensation for your trip cancellation (e.g. medical appointment postponed)?
Travel insurance cover

Besides compensation limits, you should also go for a company including specific healthcare upgrades as standard such as:

  • Bespoke medical screening before applying for travel insurance: the possibility to easily talk to someone and find the right cover for your needs (especially for terminal illness)
  • UK-based 24/7 assistance helpline while you’re abroad: dedicated free-of-charge landline  to get healthcare advice and help in finding the right doctor or hospital abroad, reactive assistance, etc. 

If you are about to make a medical claim while you are abroad, we advise you to get your insurer to accept it first and pay upfront. In the case you need to pay up front, always keep receipts and submit your claim as soon as possible. 

What is not covered by cancer travel insurance? 

That will vary from one insurer to another. 

Besides the main exclusions usually found in insurers’ policy booklets (terrorism, strikes, natural disasters, claims related to drug, alcohol, etc.), regarding pre-existing travel insurance, your claim may be invalidated:

  • If you are travelling without your doctor’s consent
  • If you have been told you have a terminal illness and you have applied for travel insurance without saying so
  • If you are waiting for a diagnosis or medical treatment at the time of applying.

Does travel insurance cover terminal cancer?

As said above, most insurers will not cover any terminal illness diagnosed, and therefore won’t cover incurable cancer.

However, we’ve come up with a list of companies still offering cover for people with terminal cancer depending on the length and destination of your trip, the stability of your medical condition and your doctor’s consent:

InsurerCovers terminal cancer
logo aa travel insuranceyes
logo all clearyes
cooperative logoyes
logo esure 1yes
logo good2goyes
logo insure and goyes
logo insureforyes
logo travel insurance 4 medical 2yes
logo world firstyes
Insurers covering terminal cancer

Most of the time, insurance companies will still ask you a minimum duration between your prognosis and your return travel date. You should also know that no insurer will cover you for your trip against your doctor’s consent.

What if I am diagnosed with cancer after having applied for travel insurance?

When it comes to medical condition travel insurance, insurers often add an ‘ongoing duty of disclosure’. 

It basically means that if any important change related to your healthcare occurs after you applied for travel insurance policy, they have the right to either:

  • Screen you again;
  • Raise your premiums;
  • Change your policy contract;
  • Cancel your policy.

Most of the time, if your health condition changes, insurers will either:

  • Provide you with new travel insurance for your new health condition with an additional fee;
  • Provide you the same insurance but the new condition will be excluded; 
  • Or simply offer no cover, as they consider your condition too risky. 

Ask for a pro rata refund or full refund if they cancel or change your policy before you make any claim. 

Can you travel abroad with cancer?

The short answer is yes, of course. 

However, here are some tips we would advise you to carefully read:

  • Get your doctor’s consent and advice before travelling with past or current cancer.
  • Get any vaccinations needed.
  • Get the right cancer travel insurance for your trip, covering treatment linked to your disease and any medical care you may need abroad, and carefully read your policy booklet (exclusions, limits and deductible amounts, etc.)
  • If you are not in remission, be sure that the trip will not be too much effort and not too tiring for your medical condition.
  • Remain prudent and take with you your doctor’s phone numbers and local emergency contact details. If possible, travel with someone.
  • Make a list of needed medication and keep them in their original packaging (for customs) and store them safely. Prepare back-up meds.

Top 5 tips to get cheaper travel insurance quotes for cancer victims

If you have or ever had cancer, here are some tips you may like to use to lower your insurance premiums:

  1. Use our comparison table to find out which companies are the best and the cheapest for cancer patients.
  2. Take your phone and try to speak to humans! If you have someone on the phone, they are more likely to understand your cancer medical situation and find you the appropriate cover. 
  3. Go for single trip cover rather than annual multi-trip. You’ll be seen as a lower risk traveller as you will only need cover for a defined stay. 
  4. Change your destination and opt for European trip rather than a roadtrip across the USA’s legendary Route 66! You’ll be less likely to make a very high medical care claim, which could see your premium go down.
  5. Benefit from a joint travel policy discount, insuring both your partner or family and yourself.