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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. 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 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.

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

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, because we think they might be trying to ascertain if the cause of the disease is within your control).
  • 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?


European Health Insurance Card

For the time being, don’t forget about the European Health Insurance Card if you are staying in Europe. If you are a UK resident, you are entitled to medical treatment that becomes necessary, at reduced cost or sometimes free, when temporarily visiting a European Union (EU) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. The EHIC covers treatment provided by the state healthcare scheme in the country you are visiting.

More Information on medical treatment while travelling

The NHS website provides guides to healthcare in other countries inside and outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

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