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Travel

Travelling and travel insurance when you take immunosuppressants, or have PSC and/or IBD.

IBD Passport

If you have IBD, or if you take immunosuppressants, take a look at the IBD Passport website well before you travel. It contains information on vaccines, what medication to pack, emergency care, insurance to name but a few. It has been put together by Nurse Kay Greveson, lead IBD Specialist Nurse at the Royal Free Hospital, London. It is an excellent resource.

Watch Sister Kay talk about IBD Passport at our 2015 London Meeting (from 11m17s):

 

Travel Insurance

If you're going on holiday, then you may be thinking about travel insurance. This can be difficult when you have PSC or IBD, as standard travel policies typically exclude ‘pre-existing illnesses’. Here are some tips on where to look for cover.

Single Trip or Multi-Trip?

You can buy travel insurance for single trips to specific countries or buy annual or multi-trip policies that might cover a range of countries for a longer period. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you might be refused an annual policy, but be accepted for a single trip policy, so don’t give up if you are refused at the first quote. Don’t forget about the insurance that comes with your bank account or credit card. Some policies might cover you, so it is worth checking.

Shop around

Travel insurance premiums that include cover for pre-existing medical conditions vary hugely. MoneySupermarket.com is a website which searches many insurers to find the best quote for you and has a specific section for pre-existing conditions (including PSC).

Money Saving Expert has lots of information and tips about travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions. It lists a number of specialist insurers (in addition to the ones included in the MoneySupermarket.com search. As we’ve already said, it is worth getting a few quotes and phoning round, as the quotes vary considerably, often for similar, if not the same cover.

Very recently, members of our community have found travel insurance policies from PayingTooMuch.com, reporting that getting a quote was easier than some of the other websites.

Check the cover

The cover you get is just as important as the cost. When you find a policy offering a good quote, check the policy wording and schedule (limits and excesses) to ensure you are getting the cover you need. If you unexpectedly fall ill on your holiday, or have an accident, you may need repatriation cover to get you home to the UK. Consider the cover required for those travelling with you. Do you want them to be covered to stay with you? If in doubt, speak to the insurer or agent. Declare everything, at the time of the quote and if things change. Honesty is the best policy as inaccurate information may invalidate your policy.

Medical screening questions for travel insurance

When you tick the 'I’ve got a pre-existing medical condition' box, you will be asked a number of screening questions to ascertain the extent and severity of your disease. They are surprisingly basic questions and they too vary from insurer to insurer. Here are some examples of the types of questions you’ll be asked.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis

  • When were you diagnosed?
  • How many times have you been treated in a hospital or taken to A & E due to this condition in the last x years?
  • Have you had any unplanned hospital admissions in the last x years?
  • What is the cause of your liver disease? (It helps to tell them it is autoimmune).
  • How often do you have blood tests to monitor this condition?
  • Have you ever had ascites?
  • Have you ever suffered from oesophageal varices?
    Do you suffer from jaundice? (Some quotes are more specific than others about this).
  • Are you on a waiting list for a liver transplant?  (Or have you been on a liver transplant waiting list?)
  • How many medications do you take for this condition?
  • Are you waiting for the results of any tests?

Ulcerative Colitis

  • When were you diagnosed?
  • Do you get blood in your stools? Is this a current or frequent problem? (not all ask this; insurancewith does ask this)
  • How often do you suffer from acute flare-ups requiring medical intervention?
  • Have you ever been prescribed corticosteroids (tablets, suppositories or injections) for this condition?
  • How many medications do you take for this condition?
  • Have you ever suffered from bowel obstruction?
  • Are you waiting for the results of any tests?

Global Health Insurance Card

The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

If you have an European Health Insurnace Card, it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC to replace it.

Neither the EHIC nor the GHIC are a substitute for travel insurance and cannot be used for planned medical treatment in the EU.

Travelling with medication

The IBD Passport website has some excellent information about travelling with medication.

More information on travelling abroad

Visit the government website for information on travelling abroad, including COVID restrictions.

Updated 28 June 2022

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