Travel, Health

Epilepsy and travel insurance – tips for someone travelling with epilepsy

Travel tips for someone travelling with epilepsy

Having epilepsy should not prevent you from having an enjoyable holiday. However, there are some measures to put in place to ensure your well being at all times.

From getting adequate sleep to being well prepared, here are some pointers for travel with epilepsy.

Epilepsy Travel Insurance

If you suffer from seizures, the cost of your single or annual travel insurance policy might be higher than your friends because having epilepsy is categorised as a pre-existing medical condition by holiday insurers.

Having a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t mean you can’t get insured, however. The increased costs for premiums with pre-existing conditions are simply because of the additional features you’ll need in your policy. If something happens to you on holiday, you need to know that you are covered and ideally your family are too in case they need to be there to support you.

It’s good to be prepared while you’re shopping around for a policy. Ask your travel insurer about:

  • 24 Hour emergency assistance cover.
  • Care cover in a private hospital.
  • Emergency repatriation: transport back to the UK.
  • Holiday cancellation / lost baggage / flight staff strikes / airline bankruptcy.
  • Accomodation and airport lounge access should a flight be cancelled (Columbus offer this)
  • Medical expenses cover (some policies offer up to £15m although a typical policy offers around £1m).
  • Overnight stays in the hospital.
  • Accommodation for friends and family who may be supporting you.
  • Emergency medicine replacement.

To be certain a travel insurance policy is appropriate for your needs, insurers have a process called “medical screening”. During the quote process, you’ll be asked whether you suffer from simple partial (focal) seizures (“auras”) or complex partial (focal) seizures. they’ll ask you how frequently you experience them, and when the last one was.

They will be interested in any other complicating factors, ongoing medical treatment and prescriptions.

Holiday insurance with pre-existing medical conditions can get expensive, so it’s best to shop around to find the cheapest quote. Try our list of holiday travel insurers that have medical travel and pre-existing medical conditions cover in our handy guide. Before accepting a policy, read through the policy terms and conditions carefully, especially the exclusions section.

If you are travelling to the EU, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid after the 31st October 2019. While it’s sensible to hold one, don’t rely on it. It’s worth familiarising yourself with the current level of health care on offer by each individual country. We’ve created a guide for travellers from the UK visiting the EU after Brexit with an individual country by country guidance.

Always make sure you have travel insurance.


Recommended Epilepsy Travel Insurance Providers

We’ve carefully reviewed travel health insurance providers that all understand, and cater for varying types of pre-existing medical conditions including epilepsy. Most, such as Allclear and Staysure, cover any medical condition. Always speak directly with the insurer to find out what’s covered and what isn’t. 

Click here to see our full list of travel insurance providers or click “Quote” to get a quote from one of our recomended providers, or scroll down to read more information on individual policies.

Provider
Maximum Age
Medical?
PolicyClever Rating*
Quote
Allclear

No age limit

Yes

Esure

79

Yes

Staysure

No age limit

Yes

World First

100

Yes

Columbus Direct

85

Yes

 

*Ratings data is based on aggregated review scores provided by Defaqto, Trustpilot, Feefo, Reviews.co.uk and Which.co.uk.

Travel Insurance Policy Comparison

We’ve carefully reviewed travel health insurance providers that all understand, and cater for varying types of pre-existing medical conditions. Most, such as Allclear and Staysure, cover any medical condition. Always speak directly with the insurer to find out what’s covered and what isn’t.

Click here to see our full list of travel insurance providers or click “Quote” to get a quote from one of our recomended providers, or scroll down to read more information on individual policies.

Allclear
Staysure
World First
Columbus
Esure

Read on for more travel tips for someone going on holiday with epilepsy:

Plan in Advance

It’s important to plan every detail of your trip in advance. This will help you think ahead for any additional needs or assistance you might require in good time. Aim for four to six weeks ahead of planned travel.

It might be advisable to create a letter in the local language of the country you’re visiting that explains your condition and what to do in the event of an emergency. Make sure the letter includes details of your next of kin, your UK GP, any medicines you’re prescribed and so on.

Visit your GP

It’s advisable to visit your GP in advance of flying abroad.

They can provide you with a letter explaining your condition to share with the flight crew should you become unwell on the flight. This is also an opportunity to discuss your medication schedule and how to best manage this. Be sure to stock up on medication to cover you for the duration of your trip and longer in case of delays.

This may also include any additional medicine for “breakthrough” seizures. Try and keep medication on you during travel, you may need to inform the airline in advance, and produce a letter from your GP.

Safety in Numbers

It’s advisable to travel with a companion if you frequently experience seizures or if you regularly become confused, unstable or unconscious.

Your travel companion should be aware of your condition and be able to explain what is happening to others if necessary, as well as support you. Make sure they know where you keep your insurance documents, letters from your GP and passport (in case of the need for emergency repatriation).

Travelling by Air

Prior to travel advise your airline of your condition. Make sure they aware well in advance as they may be able to make special provisions for you – including finding you a better seat!

On the day of travel arrive at the airport early to minimise stress, and to request an aisle seat; this is helpful if you need to get up during the flight.

Long-haul travel can be exhausting, even for those without medical conditions. Therefore, give due consideration to your personal welfare and the impact that jet lag may have.

Precautions for Travellers with VNS

If you have a VNS (a vagus nerve stimulation) device implanted in your chest wall, you will be aware that this sends pulses of electrical energy to your brain to prevent seizures. It’s advisable to carry documentation, such your VNS registration card, with you especially for airport security. Call the airport to give them advance notice – they may assign you a member of staff to travel with you through the airport to help with any issues. 

Medical Bracelet

Many people with epilepsy wear a medical ID bracelet.

Even if you chose not to on a day-to-day basis, this might be worth considering while abroad at least.

This will help ensure you receive the right treatment quickly should a medical emergency arise.

At the same time, it’s useful to travel with a wallet or a bum bag including details on your condition and any medication you’re taking, including brand names.

Keep this on your person somewhere that is easy to find at all times and, as we’ve mentioned earlier in the article, consider getting a translated letter with a summary of the details.

Keep a Routine

With travel comes the challenge of being out of your typical time zone. Do your best to maintain your current routine of sleeping, eating and waking, to minimise the chance of having a seizure. Also, try and maintain the same standards as you would when at home. For instance, if you don’t drink alcohol or coffee typically, then don’t use holiday as the time to start.

Sleep Well

Sleep disruption can be a trigger for some people with epilepsy. Therefore, it’s important to keep a regular sleep pattern where possible. Listen to your body first and foremost. For instance, if you’re feeling tired then get some rest. This is especially important if you’re suffering with jetlag. Seizures may also be triggered by excitement or anxiety, which is important to be mindful of during travel.

Call your hotel in advance and let them know about your condition. It’s probable they’ll try to locate you into a quiet room.

Travel Vaccines

Before taking any travel medication or vaccines, speak to your GP. For instance, in some cases some anti-malarial medication may provoke a seizure.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when abroad. The effects of dehydration can trigger a seizure, so pay extra attention to this, especially when flying or in a hotter climate.

Have fun

So long as you’re prepared, you can relax – and that’s the most important thing about a holiday. Have a wonderful time with your family and friends and you’ll come home relaxed, refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes next!

 

InsurancePre-Existing Medical ConditionsTravel Insurance

Sophia Walker
Sophia Walker

Sophia Walker is a writer with a passion for travel, health and wellbeing and storytelling. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, her work has been published extensively in print and online. Sophia is often found in far-flung destinations, when not in her native home of London.

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