What is disability travel insurance?

The cost of travel insurance will likely be much higher if you have a long-term medical condition or disability. This guide will explain the cover options available to you.

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Finding a travel insurance policy

Many insurance providers will refuse cover over fears applicants are too high risk to insure. This may be the case for you if you have a disability, a long-term illness or are receiving treatment for a medical condition.

It is still very important to be open and honest about your health when applying for travel insurance. Not fully disclosing a condition or disability could invalidate your policy and leave you facing the costs of medical treatment abroad if something goes wrong.

Struggling to find affordable cover having declared your medical status can seem like you are out of options. However, some specialist insurance providers may be able to help. Most medical conditions and disabilities should not stop you having a fun, rewarding and safe trip. It is essential to have insurance for what might go wrong, but you should get cover for a fair price.

You can find out more about the government’s rules and regulations that might affect travelling abroad with a disability here.

What disabilities affect travel insurance?

Pre-existing conditions will impact the cost of your travel insurance. Insurance providers’ definitions will likely include physical disabilities, learning difficulties, long-term medical conditions and some short-term medical conditions. If the provider sees your condition as ‘serious’, it will affect your travel insurance more.

That doesn’t mean getting travel insurance is impossible. For example, if it costs too much to cover your medical condition, you may be able to exclude it from your policy. You will then not be covered for claims resulting from that condition, but that might not be an issue if your condition is manageable.

If you do need cover for your condition or disability, but cannot find a fair price from a comparison, you could use specialist cover. Free Spirit, Fish Insurance, AllClear and many over providers offer specialist cover.

What is covered with disabled travel insurance?

Your travel insurance policy should include cover for cancellation, medical expenses, emergency travel, theft and loss, and accidents. These are the most common types of travel insurance claims and are key components of any worthwhile policy.

You can choose to add additional cover to this, such as gadget cover or cruise cover, but that might involve paying an extra cost. Think about what you will be doing on your trip and what activities you may need cover for.

The extent to which you are covered for these issues will depend on the nature of your disability or health condition, as well as which provider you choose. Some providers may offer you a cheaper policy that excludes cover for medical expenses relating to a pre-existing condition, while others may cover you for any medical issue up to a certain cost.

Travel insurance for disabled children

When you compare travel insurance for children, you should declare disabilities and medical conditions in the same way you would declare your own. Answering the medical screening questions as accurately as you can will give your child the best chance of getting the best possible cover for your holiday.

You could also consider specialist disability travel insurance that can cover your whole party for the duration of your trip on the same policy. This might be the best option for you if you are concerned about needing to cancel your trip due to an issue stemming from your child’s condition. With whole party cover, everyone named on the policy should be covered for cancellation.

Covering your whole party on the same policy

Even if your travelling companions are not children, you can still all travel on the same cover with some specialist providers. Including travelling companions who do not have pre-existing conditions or disabilities on the same policy should simplify making claims.

If you need to cancel due to a medical issue linked to your disability or condition, your travelling companions would also be covered. They would not necessarily be covered if they had taken out their own policy, but it is worth looking at the cost of both options to help judge which is right for your party.

Flying with a disability

If you have a disability and your trip involves flying, make sure you:

  • Give your airline at least 48 hours notice that you require assistance (though most airlines will ask you when you book)

  • Check whether your disability requires medical clearance before flying (this is often the case for physical disabilities)

  • Ask your doctor for a letter if you need to take prescription medication in your hand luggage

  • Know that if you are a passenger with reduced mobility, you have a legal right to assistance when flying

  • Know that most flights permit certified assistance dogs for the blind 

  • Know that any mobility aids will likely be permitted if you notify your airline in advance

You can find out more on the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website.

Cover for mobility aids

Specialist travel insurance for disabled travellers may provide some cover, but it may not meet the cost of your mobility aid. Check your policy documents – usually the baggage or personal belongings section – to make sure you have the level of cover you need.

Your home insurance might also provide some cover, though it might be limited to travel within the UK.

If your travel insurance policy and home insurance do not give you the cover you need for your mobility aid, it may be worth taking out a separate standalone policy.

Where to get specialist disability travel insurance

You can find out more about travel insurance with a pre-existing condition here, or you could consider specialised disability travel cover.

UK and EU passengers with a disability have a legal right to receive free assistance when they fly. Living with a disability or medical condition of any kind should not put you off travelling, as travel operators are obliged to meet legal accessibility standards. Once you have the right travel insurance, the only challenge should be choosing where to go next.