Travel, Health

Medical travel insurance: Tips for people with a heart condition

Travel tips for someone travelling with a heart problem.

Whether you have undergone heart surgery, suffered a recent heart attack or have an underlying heart condition, it’s possible that your future travel plans may be affected. But don’t feel too put off; There are approximately 7.4 million people living in the UK with heart and circulatory diseases (source).

Travel insurers will be sympathetic towards a range of heart failure conditions including: CHD, a prior heart attack, uncontrolled hypertension, abnormal heart valves, congenital heart disease (heart defects present at birth) or heart muscle disease, so don’t be put off by having an open conversation with a your holiday insurer early.

To help take some of the stress out of travel and allow you to enjoy the holiday you deserve, we’ve put together some tips for travelling with a heart condition:

Travel Insurance for Heart Conditions

If you suffer from heart disease or have a pacemaker, the cost of your single or annual travel insurance policy might be higher than your companions because having a heart condition is categorised as a pre-existing medical condition by travel 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 about your heart condition.

You’ll need to provide a written letter from your doctor confirming:

  • A summary of your illness
  • If you suffered an acute myocardial infarction, or MI the dates related to the episode and a sign off that you’re now fit to travel
  • Information on your current prescription and confirmation of how much of each drug you will need to carry with you on holiday
  • Whether you have any allergies or carry any medical devices such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

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 Travel Insurance Providers who Cover Heart Conditions on Holiday

We’ve carefully reviewed travel health insurance providers that all understand, and cater for varying types of pre-existing medical conditions including heart problems. 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 a heart condition:

Speak to your GP

Prior to booking a holiday, speak to your GP for advice. This is especially important if you have recently been diagnosed with a heart condition, or have undergone surgery. If you’re approved as safe to travel, be sure to request any additional medication or equipment to take with you in advance. You should always carry extra medication in case of delays.

If you’re travelling through various time zones, speak to your GP about the best time to schedule your medication, if appropriate.

Get Covered

It’s very important to have comprehensive travel insurance before you travel with a heart condition. If you don’t already have a policy, seek out dedicated heart condition travel insurance, which will cover you for all eventualities.

If you hold a current policy, be sure it’s up to date with all your latest details and medical status. Although it’s no substitute for travel insurance, make sure you have a European Heath Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling within the EU. This remains valid until the UK leaves the EU (currently scheduled for 31 October 2019).

Be Destination Aware

With a circulatory heart condition, it’s wise to avoid certain destinations that are hilly or involve strenuous walking or activity. Unless of course you are advised otherwise and feel fit enough. Similarly, it’s wise to avoid travelling to high altitudes of 2,000m or higher, since this can take its toll on your body, especially those suffering with angina.

Try to avoid countries with extreme temperatures too – either those that are very hot or very cold. This can put an unnecessary strain on your heart and is best avoided.

Travel Organiser

If you’re taking medication, it’s useful to jot down all of the details and brands you’re taking and keep these in a travel organiser. Keep these with you at all times, including any important documentation from your GP.

Travelling with a Pacemaker or ICD

If you’re travelling with a pacemaker or ICD fitted, this should cause no problems. Airport scanners shouldn’t interfere with your device, but do check in advance for peace of mind. If you have an ICD, you can ask for a hand-search instead of a scanner.

It is advisable to carry your Pacemaker ID card with you, or a letter from your GP if you are travelling by air. This also applies to any medication you need to carry with you. When in doubt, get in touch with your airline in advance to ensure all your needs are met. This includes any specific dietary requirements you may have, such as vegetarian meals.

Take the Stress out of Travel

Especially with a heart condition, you’ll want to make the journey as stress-free as possible. If that means taking the train over flying, then it’s worth the extra few hours. If it means upgrading your seat to one with more legroom, it might be something to consider.

Try to travel light, using luggage with wheels so that you don’t have to carry heavy bags.

Be Active

To minimise the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), try and be active throughout your flight, avoiding sitting for long periods at a time. Do simple exercises in your seat, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol. When you arrive at your destination, keep active too, making use of your new environment for walks on the beach and gentle swimming in the pool.

Useful links

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/practical-support/holidays-and-travel

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/my-story/caroline-tippen/travel-tips

https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/content/uploads/BHF-heart-failure-booklet-PDF.pdf

Finally, and most importantly – have fun and enjoy your holiday!

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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