Cystic fibrosis travel insurance

Be sure to let your travel insurance provider know you have cystic fibrosis so that your policy covers you for any medical treatment you require when you’re abroad.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 21 March 2022  | 4 mins read

Key points

  • Cystic fibrosis travel insurance can ensure you get healthcare on holiday if you need it
  • Some travel insurance companies won’t cover cystic fibrosis, but there are specialist policies that do
  • If you don’t disclose that you have cystic fibrosis, you won’t be covered for any insurance claims related to your condition
  • Always check with your doctor if it’s safe for you to fly and whether there are any destinations that might be unsafe for you to visit

Can I get travel insurance if I have cystic fibrosis?

Finding quotes for travel insurance that includes cover for cystic fibrosis can be a little more challenging than purchasing a standard policy.

But there are lots of insurance providers that specialise in offering cover for people with pre-existing health conditions.

Specialist policies can be more expensive, but they provide invaluable cover should you need medical treatment on your travels.

You should compare quotes to ensure you’re getting the best and most reasonably priced policy.

If you’re finding it difficult to get cover, then organisations like the Cystic Fibrosis Trust can provide a list of travel insurance companies that people with cystic fibrosis and their families have used and recommend.

Or check out the government’s MoneyHelper travel insurance directory of specialist providers which could also help.

You might like to look at taking out group or family cover which would pay for the return of everyone on the policy if you had to go back to the UK early because of your health.

Is cystic fibrosis considered a pre-existing medical condition for insurance?

When you get quotes for travel insurance policies, providers will always ask if you have any pre-existing conditions.

By that, they mean any illness or condition which you’ve been diagnosed with prior to taking your trip.

Pre-existing conditions include everything from asthma to heart problems, diabetes to cancer and mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. Cystic fibrosis is also included as a pre-existing condition that insurers need to know about.

After you’ve declared your condition, the provider will decide if they can cover you for it.

If you fail to let your insurer know about your condition, then any claims related to it won’t be covered under your policy.

That would mean, for example, that if you needed medication or antibiotics for an infection while you were away, you couldn’t claim back the costs.

And if you experienced more serious symptoms which required a hospital stay, or you needed to return home early, you could be faced with bills amounting to thousands of pounds.

It’s important you declare any and all pre-existing conditions to your insurer, including conditions that may have developed because of your cystic fibrosis, including osteoporosis, diabetes and liver problems.

What do insurance providers need to know?

Providers will have their own set of questions to determine how serious your condition is and whether you’re at risk of requiring treatment while abroad.

You could be asked things like:

  • What medication you take
  • If you’ve been admitted to hospital for urgent treatment in the last year
  • If you’ve been prescribed oxygen for home use
  • How short of breath you get when walking a short distance on the flat
  • If you’re on a waiting list for a lung or other organ transplant

Answer the questions honestly or any claims you make could be invalid.

What will my travel insurance for cystic fibrosis cover?

It will cover everything that a standard travel insurance policy does. That includes things like medical cover for accidents, lost or stolen luggage and personal belongings, plus delay or cancellation cover.

But you’ll get added protection for any treatment or travelling expenses that arise as a result of your cystic fibrosis.

Without this cover in place, you could be liable for thousands of pounds in medical and travel costs if you were unfortunate enough to fall ill during your holiday because of your condition.

For example, travel insurance with cystic fibrosis may pay out for:

  • Cancelling or cutting short your holiday because your condition flares up
  • Medication costs including emergency antibiotics
  • Hospital stays if you suffer any complications relating to your condition
  • Getting you home early for medical treatment in the UK
  • Getting you home later than planned because you had to stay in a hospital abroad

Does my travel destination matter when I have cystic fibrosis?

You should be able to travel widely but there are certain things you should be aware of.

Speak to your medical team before you go away so they can give you advice.

For example:

  • A bacteria found in the soil and surface waters of certain warm, tropical climates, including South East Asia and Northern Australia can cause an infection called melioidosis. This can be dangerous for people with cystic fibrosis, so travel to these areas isn’t recommended. It may also be present in parts of South America and the Caribbean, as well as West and South Africa
  • If you’re heading somewhere hot, be careful to keep well-hydrated and replace lost fluids after sweating. Dehydration can cause particular problems for people with cystic fibrosis. Your doctor may suggest you take salt tablets or oral rehydration powders with you
  • It’s wise to check that the area you’re travelling to has adequate healthcare resources for your condition. Research the cystic fibrosis organisation of the country you’re visiting
  • Some antibiotics can make your skin more sensitive to the sun - check with your doctor. If you have to take these antibiotics when you’re on holiday, be careful to avoid the midday sun. Cover up, stay in the shade and wear a high factor suncream
  • It’s best to avoid certain activities including:
  • Scuba diving, because of the changes in pressure of your lungs
  • Using a jacuzzi, as they can contain pseudomonas bacteria, which can be harmful

What should I consider when travelling with cystic fibrosis?

Before you set off, it’s important to:

  • 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 longer due to ill health
  • You may want to discuss taking a course of antibiotics before your holiday to ensure you feel well for the trip. Your doctor may also give you a supply to take away with you in case you need them
  • Your doctor or team can also give you medical certificates or written documentation about your condition and the medication you take. You can show these onboard a flight or to clinics, doctors and officials at your holiday destination. Check with your doctor or the embassy of the foreign country you’re travelling to if any of your medication is restricted in the country you’re visiting. You may need a letter of proof from your doctor or a personal licence
  • Keep medication in your hand luggage on a flight in case your other luggage is lost or delayed
  • If you use a nebuliser, portable oxygen or continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), check the airline’s policy on bringing them onboard and whether you need permission. Make sure all your devices are fully charged with more than enough power to last the length of the flight
  • Check ahead that you have somewhere to store medication that needs refrigeration during a long flight and at your holiday accommodation
  • Arrange for travel insurance that covers your condition

How can a GHIC card help?

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

It’s replacing the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but a current EHIC remains valid until the expiry date on the card.

However, a GHIC/EHIC card isn’t a replacement for travel insurance. It won't cover you for things like getting back to the UK if you fall ill or if your belongings are stolen.

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 expenses.

Can I fly with cystic fibrosis?

Most people with cystic fibrosis can fly without any problems.

Check with your doctor or consultant if you need a ‘fit to fly’ test. It assesses your breathing and if your blood oxygen levels may be affected by flying or not. You may need to take oxygen on board with you, or your airline may charge you to supply it.

What happens if my medical condition changes after I take out cover?

If your condition changes or you develop any new health issues, be sure to let your insurer know, in case they need to make any adjustments to your policy. If you don’t let them know about changes to your health, your policy could become invalid.