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: 30th Sep 2022

A guide to getting holiday insurance for Crohn’s disease

If you’re one of the estimated 102,000 people living in the UK with Crohn’s disease, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, it is thought diagnosis rates have increased rapidly over the years – meaning more than ever before people are becoming familiar with this painful, and at times, debilitating condition.

Newly diagnosed patients tend to be young - in their 20s, 30s or even teenage years. In other words, a time many of us are keen to start seeing the world and exploring new places.

Whilst being diagnosed might feel as if your life is being brought to a halt, once your condition is under control, there’s no reason whatsoever that the condition should stop you from exploring the world and ticking those items off your bucket list!

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Can I get medical travel insurance with Crohn’s disease?

You might think that having conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (or any kind of inflammatory bowel disease) would make it tricky to get insurance – but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a whole range of providers that can arrange cover for IBD – even if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have experienced recent surgery.

Our site enables you to quickly compare online quotes from over 30 specialist providers who offer pre-existing insurance cover. In other words, we can connect you to a whole host of insurance companies who have experience in providing insurance for those with ongoing health problems.

There’s every chance your belly will behave itself on your trip abroad, but travel insurance provides invaluable peace of mind and makes sure you are covered if the disease does start rearing its head midway through your holiday.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, MBE

Top tips for travelling with Crohn's

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

  1. Order your repeat medications well in advance, and make sure you have enough to last the whole holiday, with some to spare.
  2. Carry your medication in your hand luggage and ideally split it with a travelling companion, in case one bag gets lost. However, be aware that you will need to be with them at any security points, so you can show details to confirm the medicine has been prescribed for you. Always keep your medication in its original packaging while travelling.
  3. If you take medication that needs refrigeration (e.g. Adalimumab), carry it in a cool bag and arrange in advance with your hotel to provide somewhere safe to keep it. If you’re taking medicines by injection, check with your airline about their regulations for travelling with needles and syringes. It’s worth investing in a travel-sized sharps bin for these.
  4. Consider which non-prescription medicines (such as anti-diarrhoea medication or rehydration sachets) you may need and stock up on.
  5. Do be aware that some medications readily available in the UK – including some that can be bought over the counter in pharmacies – may be banned or restricted in other countries.
  6. Always check the website of the embassy of the country/countries you’re travelling to for details of restricted medications. Countries such as India, Turkey, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have stringent restrictions, but they aren’t the only ones.
  7. If you use controlled drugs such as strong painkillers, contact the Home Office Drugs Branch – you may need a personal licence to take these drugs abroad. Your pharmacist can advise you if any of the medicines you take are controlled.
  8. Keep a list of your medications, including the generic (non-brand) names. This is because certain brands – e.g., Asacol or Pentasa (generic name mesalazine) – may not be available in other countries or may be known by different names.
  9. Check with your airline whether you need a letter from your doctor confirming you are fit to travel. Your GP may charge for this. If you’re travelling with liquid, gel or cream medicine that is more than 100ml in size, you’ll need a letter from your doctor to carry it in your hand luggage. Ask your doctor to include details of non-prescription medicines they advise you to carry with you. You may find it useful to carry copies of important medical documents with you.
  10. If you take steroid tablets, get a card from any pharmacy or a MedicAlert bracelet from the MedicAlert Foundation. It’s essential that steroid tablets aren’t stopped suddenly.
  11. Always take out travel insurance with a specialist company which will ensure you’re covered for your Crohn’s and any other conditions while you’re away.
  12. Getting access to a toilet in a hurry is one of the biggest concerns for many travellers with Crohn’s. Toilets are often available in supermarkets, tourist information centres and fast-food restaurants. Find out details of toilet map apps in the country you’re visiting from the IBD Passport website.
  13. Visit the Crohn’s and Colitis UK website (or phone their information line on 0333 222 5700) to get hold of one of their ‘Can’t Wait’ cards, in case you need the toilet urgently. They’re available in 30 languages.
  14. Think about your travel, and whether you’ll need extra support – either for finding toilets in a hurry or with transferring, carrying your luggage etc. Get in touch with your airline, ideally at least 3 days in advance, to let them know any assistance you’ll need. You may find it useful to request a seat on the plane close to the toilet.
  15. Pack extra underpants and a change of clothes in your hand luggage and take a small backpack with you that you can carry them in if you’re out and about.
River Cruise in Paris

Won’t a standard travel insurance policy include cover for IBD?

Unfortunately, despite IBD being a well-known condition, many standard insurance companies won’t offer cover for it.

In fact, your average travel insurance providers don’t usually cover ANY pre-existing conditions as a way of keeping payouts low – even if you’ve been fortunate enough to have been in remission for several years.

Using a specialist provider makes sure you won’t be left in the lurch should the worst happen.

Do I need to declare Crohn’s disease on my travel insurance?

It might seem easier to simply omit the fact you’ve got IBD on your travel insurance – especially if you’ve not had a flare-up for a while. However, missing out any details from an insurance form can invalidate your whole claim.

Not to mention that we all know how unpredictable life can be with Crohn’s disease at times.

Hot weather, change in diet, stress from travel and unwashed food can all potentially trigger a flare. Seeking treatment abroad is stressful enough without all the added worry of covering expensive hospital bills.

Are there any things that I should make sure I have included in my policy?

Most of the time, an insurance policy that covers pre-existing conditions should suffice. However, it’s important to take a closer look at the numbers. Make sure you’re comfortable with the amount the policy offers towards medical treatment and care.

IBD is a complex condition and hospital bills can easily run into the thousands. Not great if your policy only covers the basics.

If you’re packing a biological medication such as Humira, it might be worth getting specific extra coverage for this, as biological drugs can cost thousands of pounds to replace if they are lost.

If the proposed fee doesn’t look high enough, many insurance companies offer premium packages with a higher amount of coverage. It may well be worth forking out a little bit extra to make sure you are 100% covered.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Once you've declared all of 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.
No, unfortunately, we're unable to provide a quote if you are suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition. As soon as you have been diagnosed you can visit us and get a quote.

If you don't travel much then a single trip cover is perfect as you can cover specific dates suited to your trip. If you have cancellation cover, you'll also benefit from this as soon as you buy your policy.

If you travel 2 or more times a year, it may be cheaper for you to go for an annual multi-trip cover. It's best to start your annual trip cover as soon as possible, as if you have cancellation cover, you'll only benefit from this from your policy start date.

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

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