Travel insurance

Published: 19 August 2010
  • Not all travel insurance policies will cover people with HIV, but specific policies can be obtained.

  • It is wise to shop around and to carefully check the details of each policy.

As the long-term health of people with HIV has improved, providers of travel insurance have become less restrictive.  In the 1980s, travel-insurance companies generally put blanket exclusions on all HIV-related and AIDS-related claims, but this is no longer the case. It is now possible for someone with HIV to get appropriate travel insurance and be covered for HIV-related claims. However, policies need to be checked carefully.

Most general travel insurance excludes pre-existing medical conditions. This means that any illness that a person already has, or has had, in the past, is not covered. If someone knows that they have HIV, then this would be classed as a pre-existing condition and so illness experienced as a result of HIV would not be covered. While these policies are worthwhile for other accidents and injuries, and for loss or theft of property while travelling, HIV care would have to be paid for, if needed, and may be costly.

Some insurers offer to extend existing policies to cover illnesses related to HIV at an extra cost, while others may not. Other companies now offer policies which include pre-existing conditions.

Even if an insurance policy does cover costs incurred due to pre-existing conditions, it is important to compare it to others to make sure that it covers every eventuality. It is also important to check insurance agreements for any accompanying partners, family or companions, to make sure that any travel home for medical treatment is covered for all parties.

A good travel-insurance policy should provide cover for cancellation or curtailment, medical and repatriation (bringing someone back to the UK) expenses, accident loss or damage to personal possessions, loss or theft of money, legal expenses and personal-liability cover if you injure a third party. The policy may also need to cover any sports or adventurous activities.

Experts recommend having cover for £2 million medical expenses, £1m personal liability, £3000 cancellation cover and £1500 baggage cover.

When it comes to applying for an insurance policy which covers pre-existing conditions, there can be a lot of questions which need to be answered before the insurance cover is granted. In terms of statistics, any medical history could mean that there is a greater risk for the insurance company, and they will need to do some detailed checks to find out if they are able to provide cover.

There may be a medical screening process and this will usually involve discussing routine blood-test results from an HIV clinic, such as CD4 cell counts and viral loads.

Following any health checks, there is likely to be a deadline for buying the insurance to cover a pre-existing condition. The cover should last the entire length of the trip and be bought before the provider's deadline. The person travelling will usually need to be deemed medically able to travel for this time allocation.

While we cannot provide recommendations for any particular provider or travel- insurance company, it can help to have a starting point when looking for quotes. Some companies offering cover for people with HIV are listed below. It is always wise to shop around for a range of quotes and select the insurer which most meets specific needs.

World First is an insurance intermediary which specialises in covering pre-existing conditions and can arrange cover for people with HIV in conjunction with the Professional Travel Insurance Company Ltd. As opposed to offering ’specialist HIV policies’, it says it simply offers policies that don’t exclude HIV or related conditions such as hepatitis. A quote can be obtained by calling 0345 90 80 161 or visiting

The following companies also specialise in providing travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions and have experience of insuring people living with HIV:

Easy Travel Insurance:

0844 357 1314

Freedom Travel Insurance:

01223 446 914

Points to bear in mind:

  • Travel insurance will not cover any claim relating to HIV if the person claiming did not tell the insurance company that they have HIV.

  • A doctor's letter may be required confirming HIV diagnosis.

  • Details of medical treatment and medical history are required.

  • The cost of a policy to cover HIV-related illness may be higher than a standard policy. If the initial outlay is not high, there may be a high excess which means that the policy requires large payments for a part of any treatment received.

If an HIV-positive person chooses travel insurance which does not cover pre-existing conditions and becomes ill while abroad, they may have difficulties claiming medical expenses. Some simple cases of travel illness not related to HIV have required lengthy battles to prove this and insurers have tried to refuse to meet the claim.

Where possible, covering for all eventualities can give peace of mind.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.