Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

Originally posted: 1st Sep 2022

Why do I need specialist asthma holiday insurance?

Asthma is a common condition in the UK, and with 1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults actively receiving treatment, it’s not something you should forget to tell your travel insurance provider about whether you have mild asthma or severe asthma. 

Unlike most standard travel insurance policies that will include a limited amount of cover for medical expenses, specialist travel insurance covering asthma is there in case you need to make a claim for any asthma attacks, medical emergencies or issues during your trip.

Asthma is classified as a pre-existing condition and Medical Travel Compared has helped many people with a range of different pre-existing conditions find competitive cover to suit their needs, including those living with asthma.

In fact, with us - you can compare medical travel insurance from a wide variety of leading travel insurance providers within minutes. We make it simple for you to shop around for the right policy to suit you, so you can sooner get back to the more exciting part of planning your holiday. Whether you are looking for single-trip or multi-trip insurance, we have options for you.

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Does asthma affect the cost of travel insurance?

Once you disclose a pre-existing medical condition like asthma, it’s likely this could affect your premium. 

However, this is always treated on a case-by-case basis - as the severity of your condition will also impact your premium. This is determined by the medical screening process and questions you might be asked as you go through the process. 

Some examples of the questions you could be asked are:

  • Have you ever had a diagnosis made of COPD (e.g. chronic bronchitis or emphysema)?
  • How old were you when asthma was diagnosed?
  • How many medicines are prescribed for your asthma (count each inhaler as one medicine)?
  • Do you use nebulisers as part of routine maintenance of asthma?

This gives providers more of an insight into your unique medical history - enabling them to offer you a policy that should provide suitable cover. 

However, pre-existing medical conditions are not the only thing that may affect your premium. Other factors, like destination, can also impact your premium – especially if healthcare costs are particularly high in that country.

What’s covered in a travel insurance policy for asthma sufferers?

Specialist asthma cover will usually cover the following:

  • Emergency medical expenses and repatriation - if you require medical attention as a result of asthma, or if you need to be repatriated back to the UK in an emergency.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged personal belongings - including any medication, like Ventolin inhalers, for example.
  • Cancellation and curtailment - the insurance provider will cover you in the event of needing to cancel your holiday or cut it short for a certain reason (usually medical).
  • Travel delay - this won’t always be included, check with your provider.
  • Personal liability - if you cause accidental damage to another person or someone else’s property - cover is provided.

Again, we work with plenty of specialist asthma travel insurance providers - and you can compare cover in minutes thanks to our quick and easy-to-use online comparison tool.

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Dr Sarah Jarvis, MBE

Top tips for travelling if you have asthma

Dr Sarah Jarvis is the Clinical Director of the Patient Platform, an active medical writer, broadcaster, and the resident doctor for BBC Radio 2.

Asthma is very common – it affects around one in 11 children and one in 12 adults. While for some, asthma is no more than a mild inconvenience, it can be life-threatening. Making sure you take steps to get your asthma as well controlled as possible before you travel, and taking the right precautions while you're away, will greatly reduce the risk of worrying flare-ups of asthma while you're travelling.

  1. If you have asthma, you'll need to declare it as a pre-existing medical condition when applying for travel insurance. Failure to do so could make your travel insurance invalid.
  2. Speak to your nurse or doctor well in advance if your asthma isn't ideally controlled – which means you shouldn't be waking at night, needing to take your blue 'reliever' inhaler or having to avoid certain activities because of wheezing or shortness of breath. They may be able to adapt your treatment to improve control.
  3. Work with your nurse or doctor to create a written asthma action plan and keep it with you so you know what to do if your symptoms worsen.
  4. Do keep taking your regular 'preventer' inhaler leading up to and throughout your holiday to reduce the chance of flare-ups.
  5. Find out in advance what the weather will be like at your destination. While for many people, asthma symptoms are more likely in winter, hot weather can trigger asthma too.
  6. If your asthma is triggered by pollen, do check pollen counts in the country you're going to in advance. Consider avoiding countries with high pollen counts (or going at a different time of year) and always take your antihistamines, as well as your inhalers, with you.
  7. Keep your inhalers out of direct sunlight and out of the heat. Take a cool bag with you to keep your inhalers in if you're out and about in hot weather.
  8. Air pollution can trigger asthma – plan outdoor and strenuous activities for earlier in the day when pollution levels tend to be lower.
  9. If you're going somewhere the weather might be cool, carry a loose scarf with you and pop this over your nose and mouth before you go out (a COVID-style face covering will have the same effect). This slows the entry of cold air into your lungs, which can lead to spasms of the airways.
  10. If you're out in cold weather and don't have a scarf, breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth – this will warm the air up before it gets to your lungs.
  11. Be prepared for an asthma emergency before you travel. Jot down details of local pharmacies, doctors, and emergency services. Ask your travel provider how to access more supplies of medication in case yours are lost and keep details of your medications and medical history with you.
  12. Keep Google Translate ready on your phone or, even better, learn a few phrases to describe your asthma or ask for a doctor in the local language.
  13. Always carry your asthma inhalers and other medicines in your hand luggage to reduce anxiety and problems if hold luggage goes astray. Ideally, split your medication between different bags if you're travelling with someone else.
  14. Keep a list of your medications with you and check the regulations for taking medication abroad: you may need a doctor's letter confirming which medicines you're taking.
  15. Keep your medicines (including inhalers) in their original packaging with the prescription label attached. Be prepared to show documentation at border control.
Jungle mountains

Travel insurance for children with asthma

Asthma is the most common long term medical condition amongst children, particularly under the age of five, who have asthmatic symptoms not to be given a confirmed diagnosis of asthma. This is because young children's airways can become irritated easily by viruses, making it hard for doctors to confirm a diagnosis.

This can cause difficulty for parents when applying for travel insurance as undiagnosed conditions cannot be covered. However, there is a way around this. Check the exact medical term stated on your child’s medical records.

It often tends to be ‘viral-induced wheeze’ also known as ‘RSV Bronchiolitis’ or ‘Respiratory Syncytial Viral Bronchiolitis’ – if this is the case, simply disclose the medical term to obtain cover.

As with adults, asthmatic children shouldn’t enjoy their holidays any less if they suffer with the condition.

Again, with careful planning and consideration, your child’s asthma can be kept under control for the duration of your planned holiday. You need to make sure that you look after their various prescriptions and medication – taking them everywhere you go.

Bear in mind that the air pressure/quality onboard an aircraft might have the potential to offset your child’s asthma. Encouraging them to drink water to avoid drying of their airways is one way in which you can help. Ventolin inhalers tend to be below the 100ml limit required for hand luggage – so it’s also recommended to bring this type of medication on the plane with you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, we compare policies from over 30 specialist providers to find great cover for people who suffer from asthma. Get a quote.

The cost of travel insurance will depend on the severity of your condition, amongst other factors. However, it is possible to find cheap cover, and at MTC, we compare cover from as little as £9.44*. Get a quote now.

A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!

It is simple and quick to do! After you've told us about your trip details and answered some medical history questions you can add your pre-existing conditions, one by one, for each traveller. You'll only need to enter your details once, it's all online and there's no need to call, or provide details of your conditions in writing.

Once you've declared all your relevant pre-existing medical conditions, we'll only show you quotes based on the conditions you have told us about.

No, we are unable to provide cover with any of your pre-existing medical conditions excluded.

* Price is based on 1 traveller aged 61, who has declared Asthma and is travelling to France for 7 nights. The price is correct as of July 2024. Prices may vary according to your individual requirements.

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If we're unable to help you find cover for a pre-existing medical condition, the Money Helper Directory has listings of companies that may be able to assist you. Further details can be found on their website.