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.

Can I get travel insurance with COPD?

Yes – once you declare Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as a condition, you can compare a range of quotes for specialist COPD travel insurance policies.

Therefore, it’s important that you declare COPD as part of your medical history. Once you do this, you’ll need to answer a few specific questions related to your condition.

You’ll be asked how much medication you’ve been prescribed to manage your breathing condition, how many hospital admissions you’ve had in the last year, how short of breath you get after a certain distance, if you’ve ever been prescribed oxygen outside of hospital, if you’ve ever been a smoker, and if you’ve had pneumonia or any other chest infection in the last year.

Answering these questions as accurately as possible enables us to find policies that are more relevant to your personal circumstances.

COVID-19 Medical Cover

We’ll only show you quotes from providers who cover emergency medical expenses (including repatriation to the UK) if you catch the virus whilst travelling abroad.

Enhanced COVID Cover

Extra cover that'll give you & your holiday even more protection against COVID-19. Compare quotes from leading providers with this additional cover today.

What does COPD travel insurance cover?

A standard medical travel insurance policy for pre-existing medical conditions will usually include a number of benefits – from lost/stolen personal belongings (including medication) to cancellation.

Essentially, cover limits vary from provider to provider, but overall – you’ll be able to claim up to the policy limits for things like emergency medical expenses, for instance.

This type of thing is to be expected in a COPD travel insurance policy – given the nature of the condition and the average patient’s reliance on their medication.

Flying with COPD

Flying with COPD is perfectly fine for most passengers with the condition. With most types of COPD - consulting your GP is an important aspect of assessing your fitness to fly, as long as you feel well enough within yourself to manage a long-haul or even short-haul flight, but in most cases, flying is comfortable and safe.

There are a small minority of COPD patients that may be putting themselves in some form of risk by flying. However, provided they can travel with supplementary oxygen, air travel is perfectly manageable for these patients too.

Can I fly with mild COPD?

As mentioned above – in most cases, it’s fine to fly with mild COPD. However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that COPD is the umbrella term for a number of different lung conditions that affect people in different ways. So, each case varies from person to person – and although the symptoms may be less mild, there is still a risk to consider.

Checking with your doctor for advice about flying, however mild your condition, is still a reasonable precaution to consider.

Can I fly with severe COPD?

Depending on which Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease conditions you suffer from, whether it’s bad emphysema or severe bronchitis – you need to consider the fact that this automatically puts you at a higher risk while flying.

This is because the more severe the condition is, the more likely there are to be complications. That being said, in most cases people are fine to fly as long as they have a supplementary oxygen supply available for them to on the flight itself.

Here you would need to notify the airline that you require special considerations to be made on your behalf. It’s also wise to talk all of this through with your doctor before making any definitive travel arrangements.

Can I fly long haul with COPD?

First and foremost, consider whether you’re fit to fly altogether.

If you feel fit and healthy and a flight is manageable – discuss with your doctor the possibilities of flying long-haul and the risks that this may present. Again, this is all dependent on which specific lung condition you suffer with, but letting your airline know that you may need a special oxygen supply is an important consideration to make.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, MBE

Top tips for travelling if you have COPD

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

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a long-term condition of the lungs where the flow of air to the lungs is restricted. It's often, but not always, related to smoking. COPD used to be called emphysema or chronic bronchitis. About three million people in the UK have COPD –

  1. Check with your doctor in advance. They may recommend that you avoid certain types of travel or destinations.
  2. High-altitude destinations often involve thinner air with lower levels of oxygen. This can make breathing harder if you have lung problems.
  3. Get your symptoms as well controlled as possible in advance. Having a review with your nurse or doctor to adjust your medication can reduce the chance of a flare-up while you're away.
  4. Have a self-management plan. This is a plan agreed with your doctor or nurse about what action to take if your symptoms get worse. This might include increasing the dose of your regular ('preventer') inhaler, keeping a course of antibiotic or steroid tablets to take in case of worsening breathing or when to seek emergency help.
  5. If you're planning to fly, speak to your GP about whether you need a fitness to fly spirometry check. This can help determine whether it's safe for you to fly and whether you would need oxygen on board the aircraft.

For more tips from Dr Sarah Jarvis check out the full guide here.

Emphysema travel insurance

With Medical Travel Compared, you can compare quotes from a number of leading insurance providers for emphysema travel insurance policies.

When asked about your medical history, you can declare emphysema as a broad condition, or also declare pulmonary interstitial emphysema if this is more applicable to you.

Here you’ll be asked similar questions relating to medication, hospital admissions, shortness of breath, use of supplementary oxygen, various chest infections (including pneumonia), and whether or not you smoke, or have been a smoker in the past.

You can therefore reasonably expect an emphysema travel insurance policy to provide similar protection to a specialist COPD travel insurance policy.

Bronchitis travel insurance

Like emphysema, bronchitis also sits beneath the umbrella of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – and as a result, bronchitis travel insurance will include a similar set of policy benefits to those you’d expect from specialist COPD or emphysema travel insurance policy.

As well as declaring bronchitis as the generic condition, you can also declare acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis and eosinophilic bronchitis as separate pre-existing medical conditions.

Again, you’ll need to answer a similar set of questions so that providers can determine the nature of your condition and quote you for policies best suited to your individual needs. With a specialist bronchitis travel insurance policy, you’ll have peace of mind ahead of your trip should you need immediate protective cover as a result of your condition.

If you are concerned about travelling with COPD, this information provided by COPD Foundation may be useful.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ll only show you quotes from providers who are able to cover emergency medical expenses (including repatriation to the UK) if you catch the virus whilst travelling abroad.

Some of our providers are able to offer additional cover, such as cancellation cover should you catch COVID-19 or have to self-isolate because of suspected symptoms before departure. We’ll make it clear who these providers are when you’re comparing quotes so you can choose the policy that is right for you.

This doesn’t apply to all insurance providers, so unless otherwise stated, for all other sections of cover, you wouldn’t be covered if making a claim as a result of COVID-19.

For more information, we recommend reading our full guide here.

If the FCDO are advising against all, or all but essential travel to your destination at the time of your trip, there will be no, or extremely limited cover provided by your policy.

You can still choose to take out a policy now for a future holiday, but it is very important to note that if the FCDO are still advising against all but essential travel to your destination at the time of your trip, your cover will not be valid.

For more information, we recommend reading our full guide here.

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

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 £10.95*. Get a quote now.
Yes, we'll need to know if you or any traveller on your policy has ever suffered from a respiratory condition. So, this could be a condition that is present now or a condition that you've had in the past and have made a full recovery from. But don't worry, we'll ask you a set of questions relating to your condition to take your individual circumstances into account.
It's really 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.
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 COPD and is travelling to Spain for 7 nights. Price is correct as of December 2019. 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 and Pensions Service (MaPs) have launched a new directory listing companies that may be able to assist you. You can find out more information on their website.