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Crohn’s disease travel insurance

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 22 March 2022  | 3 mins read

Having Crohn’s disease doesn’t have to stand in the way of you enjoying holidays abroad.

With a little forward planning and appropriate travel insurance in place, you can relax and enjoy a break away knowing you’re prepared should the unexpected happen.

Key points

  • If you’re taking a holiday and have Crohn’s disease, you’ll need to let your travel insurer know about your condition
  • Travel insurance for Crohn’s disease can cover expensive medical costs and return flights home should you fall ill
  • If your insurer doesn’t know about your condition, they won’t pay out for any claims relating to it
  • Some travel vaccinations may be unsuitable when you’re on certain medication for Crohn’s disease

Can I get travel insurance if I have Crohn’s disease?

If you’re taking a holiday and have Crohn’s disease, it’s vital you consider taking out travel insurance that covers your condition.

Without it, you could be liable for medical and travel costs amounting to thousands of pounds if you fall ill.

A travel policy that covers Crohn’s disease will protect you for all the things that standard travel insurance does (like lost or stolen luggage, flight delays or cancellations and medical cover in case of an accident).

But importantly, it will also cover you for any claims that are the result of your condition.

Without Crohn’s disease travel insurance in place, you would have to pay for medical treatment or emergency flights home , which can be very costly.

Also, if you need to cancel a holiday because your Crohn’s disease flares up, your policy should cover that too.

It’s likely you’ll have to pay more for your travel insurance than a standard policy, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

Is Crohn’s disease considered a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance purposes?

When you apply for a quote for travel insurance, the provider will ask that you declare any pre-existing conditions.

These are physical or mental health conditions that you have been diagnosed with, have had previously or are awaiting treatment for.

Pre-existing conditions can be anything from heart or lung disease to diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s.

If you don’t mention your Crohn’s disease to your insurance provider when arranging a policy, you won’t be covered for any claims relating to your condition. Things like hospital treatment or emergency travel home, as well as if you need to cancel due to your condition flaring up before you go on your holiday.

This could set you back tens of thousands of pounds, especially if you’re travelling in a country with high medical costs, such as the USA.

What do insurance providers need to know?

Insurance providers will have their own medical screening process for Crohn’s Disease.

But, generally, the sort of questions you can expect include things like:

  • If you’ve been admitted into hospital recently
  • Whether you’ve had surgery for your condition
  • If you’re on medication
  • If you’re waiting for the results of tests or investigations

How likely is it that an insurance provider will approve my application?

It depends on the insurance company and how severe your condition is.

For example, it might be a little more difficult to get cover if you’ve recently had surgery or been admitted into hospital, or if you’re awaiting test any investigation results.

Once your insurer knows more about your condition, how serious it is and if it’s well controlled, they’ll either decide to:

  • Offer you full cover. This is likely to cost more than standard travel insurance because of the risk of your condition
  • Offer you cover with standard terms but exclude any costs relating to your Crohn’s disease
  • Refuse to give you cover

If you find it difficult to get travel insurance for Crohn’s disease, then the government’s MoneyHelper travel insurance directory of specialist providers could help.

What do I need to consider when travelling if I have Crohn’s disease?

It’s important to be as prepared as possible when travelling with a pre-existing condition. You may want to:

  • Talk to your doctor before booking your trip to check whether you’re well enough to travel. Ask them for advice on what you should do in the event of a flare-up of your condition while you’re away
  • See your doctor for extra supplies of your usual medication well in advance. It’s a good idea to take double the amount you need, in case you’re delayed or have to stay abroad for longer due to ill health. Keep medication in its original packaging
  • Always check to see if your medication is restricted or prohibited in the country you’re travelling to. Your doctor or the foreign embassy of your holiday destination can help you with this information
  • Get a letter from your doctor or medical team detailing your condition and the medication you’re taking. This will help if you’re stopped by customs officials or if there’s a medical emergency
  • Keep medication in your hand luggage on a flight in case your other luggage is lost or delayed
  • Check ahead that you have somewhere to store any medication that needs refrigeration during a long flight and at your holiday accommodation
  • Take supplies of anti-diarrhoeals, antispasmodics and rehydration sachets with you
  • Get a ‘Can’t wait’ card from the charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK - available in 30 different languages for travelling abroad. It’s a card that makes it easier to ask to use the toilet when you’re out and experience an urgent need to go
  • Some medication for Crohn’s disease can make you more sensitive to the sun, so pack plenty of high factor sun cream

Am I limited in where I can travel?

In theory, you can travel anywhere in the world. But there are certain things you may want to consider before you book a trip when you have Crohn’s disease.

  • Research the health facilities available in the country and area you want to visit. Depending on your current health, this may have an impact on where you decide to take your holiday
  • If you’re planning on travelling to a developing country and are on immunosuppressant or immunomodulator medication, get advice from your specialist and/or a travel clinic on whether it’s safe for you to travel there
  • Check what vaccinations you might need for your trip. If you’re taking immunosuppressive or immunomodulator treatment for Crohn’s, you can’t have ‘live’ vaccines. This includes vaccines for diseases like yellow fever. Talk to your medical team. In some cases, your doctor can write you a letter of exception to show officials when entering the country

Do I need a letter from my doctor before I travel?

You should check with your doctor that you’re fit to travel. Travelling against your doctor’s advice could invalidate your insurance.

It’s wise to get a letter from your doctor or medical team which explains your condition, plus all the medication you’re taking so you can show it to customs officials or to medical staff if you fall ill.

Will a GHIC help me access medical care?

If you’re visiting a European Union (EU) country then a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gives you access to medically necessary, state-funded healthcare for free or at the same rate as a resident of that country.

The GHIC is replacing the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but a current EHIC remains valid until the expiry date on the card.

A GHIC/EHIC card isn’t a replacement for travel insurance, though. It won't cover you for things like getting you back to the UK if you fall ill.

And it only covers EU countries. So if you’re travelling to anywhere else in the world - including countries like the USA where healthcare is very expensive - then travel insurance is essential to protect you from large medical bills, should something happen.

Do I still need to declare Crohn’s disease if it’s not severe?

Even if your Crohn’s disease is well controlled, it’s important that you still declare it to your travel insurer.

If you need medication or treatment for Crohn’s when you’re away, you won’t be covered under your policy if you haven’t told your insurer about it.

Can I be covered if I’m still waiting for treatment or investigations for my Crohn’s disease?

It might be a little more difficult to get cover if you’re awaiting treatment, tests or results. You may find that many insurers will only offer you limited cover. It’s worth comparing with multiple providers.

Does Crohn’s disease make you vulnerable to Covid-19?

Data so far doesn’t indicate that people with Crohn’s disease are more likely to contract Covid-19 or to develop more serious issues because of the medications they take.