Do I need to tell the insurance company that I have high blood pressure?
Once you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure you might find it more complicated and expensive to arrange holiday insurance. When you arrange travel insurance you must tell the insurance company that your blood pressure is being treated. If you don’t, and anything goes wrong, you will not be covered for any illness related to your high blood pressure and may not be able to claim money from the insurance company.
You must tell the insurance company the full details of any illness of a permanent or recurring nature and this includes high blood pressure. Some policies will cover you if you have high blood pressure but will not pay for continuing or routine treatment or if you travel against medical advice.
Before most companies are prepared to cover you they will usually arrange for a medical expert to phone you and ask about your condition. The expert will want to know when you were first diagnosed with high blood pressure, the medication that you are taking and your latest readings. Some will accept your own readings but most will prefer to be quoted the latest reading taken by your GP or practice nurse. They might also insist on a note from your GP saying that you are fit to travel.
Travel Insurance Cover and High Blood Pressure
The insurer may not cover you for any risks linked to high blood pressure if:
- Your high blood pressure is not under control
- You have been taking your tablets for less than three months
This is standard medical practice so don’t worry. Your GP would want to wait for the same length of time before deciding that the medication he or she prescribed suited you and that your condition was under control. However, this does mean that you must plan further ahead when you arrange a holiday.
Will my travel insurance cost more?
You will have to pay more money to be insured because the company is taking a greater risk by covering you. The country or countries you are travelling to might affect how much you will have to pay and if you are over 65 you will probably have to pay more. Despite the cost, travel insurance with medical cover is important. Although a few countries have agreements with the UK to provide emergency medical help to you if you become ill, most do not. Even those countries that do will not cover the full costs of your treatment. If you become ill in a country where medical treatment is expensive the bills could run into many, many thousands of pounds.
If you are unlucky enough to require treatment while on holiday, it is important to keep all doctors, pharmacists and hospital bills and receipts to support your claim.
What is the best way to find an insurance company?
Provided your condition is well controlled, and you are not suffering from any other medical conditions, you will always be able to obtain holiday insurance. A small number of companies specialise in providing cover for people who are refused medical cover by other businesses. Approach a reputable company, tell them about your condition, and see what they can offer you. You will not be an unusual case. Millions of people in the UK have high blood pressure and take medications for it.
A recommendation from a friend or relative is a good place to start or call a few companies to see what their cover and costs are. It is also worth bearing in mind the countries you are likely to visit. An American-based company might offer better cover for the USA.
If you enjoy activities like skiing or scuba diving some companies may cover you without charging extra. Shop around but do remember that you get what you pay for. Also, do check out the usual requirements, such as flight delays and cancellations, lost baggage and so on.
Many companies offering standard travel insurance advertise in newspapers and magazines or on television but they sometimes do not cover medical conditions. The Association of British Insurers has an information sheet on choosing travel insurance. Details are at the end of this information sheet.
Other holiday considerations for people with high blood pressure.
If I want to dive when I am on holiday will this affect my blood pressure?
If you want to scuba dive and have high blood pressure there are some restrictions. These will depend on the level of your blood pressure and any medications that you are taking. You will need to be passed to dive by a diving medical specialist. There are details of the organisation to contact for more information at the end of this information sheet. If you want to dive whilst you are on holiday make sure that you get checked out before you go. Snorkelling is fine, down to two or three metres.
Are there any other activities that I cannot do?
Whilst travelling or on holiday people often take the opportunity to try more extreme sports or activities than they perhaps would do at home. Any activity which causes extreme changes in speed or pressure can potentially be harmful for people with high blood pressure, for example, parachuting and paragliding. If you think you may want to try something like this whilst away, understand the risks and make sure you are covered by your travel insurance as often this type of activity is excluded.
Is there anything else I need to know about travel insurance and blood pressure?
If you are going to be away from home for a long period of time or are travelling extensively do make plans to monitor your blood pressure and work out what you would do if you needed to change your treatment or see a doctor. You can buy an automatic blood pressure monitor which you can take with you or make plans to be checked along your route.
Going on holiday and travelling with high blood pressure is safe but you may need to take more care and time planning your trip.
For an information sheet on choosing travel insurance
Association of British Insurers
51 Gresham Street
Telephone: 020 7600 3333
Fax: 020 7696 8999Web site:www.abi.org.uk
For up-to-date information on problems and safety in around 200 countries
Travel Advice Unit
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
London SW1A 2PA
Tel: 020 7008 0232 / 0233
Fax: 020 7008 0155
email: firstname.lastname@example.org (for Travel Advice enquiries only)
web site: www.fco.gov.ukBBC ceefax page 470
Information on scuba diving
British Sub-Aqua Club
South Pier Road
Telephone 0151 350 6200
Fax: 0151 350 6215
Web site www.bsac.com
General Health advice for travellers
Department of Health leaflet
General advice on flying and health