Although nut allergies are the most common type of severe food allergy, there are many people who do not understand how serious they can be. At the more extreme end of the scale, allergic reactions to nuts can lead to anaphylaxis (sometimes called anaphylactic shock) which can be life-threatening. Even the more ‘mild’ allergic reactions can produce real discomfort, which may be particularly distressful in certain situations: for example, feeling nauseous is doubly unpleasant if travelling on a plane.
Unfortunately, misunderstandings about nut allergies aren’t limited to the general public – many insurance companies also have misconceptions, which can make it difficult to find the right travel insurance for nut allergy sufferers. And if you do find a company who is willing to provide you with specialised nut allergy travel insurance, you may also find they charge an excessive amount for this.
We think the situation can be, and needs to be, improved – which is why we formed our Travel Insurance for Nut Allergies group.
Travelling with Nut Allergies
People with nut allergies may understandably be nervous about travelling and going abroad, as in these environments you may feel you have less control over your circumstances. But there are a number of precautions you can take, both during travel and at your destination, to make you feel more at ease.
For example, if flying:
- Before you travel, advise the airline about your allergy and ask if they are able to cater appropriately for your needs. And if the airline usually serve nuts as a snack, they may be willing to make an exception on your flights.
- Take your own food on the plane.
- Carry adrenaline and any other medication (such as antihistamines) in your hand luggage, and make sure this is easily accessible.
- Pack extra medication in case your flight is delayed (also in your hand luggage, or in the hand luggage of someone travelling with you).
And at your destination:
- When eating out, either in a restaurant or at your hotel, advise the staff of your condition and ask them to advise which dishes will be suitable.
- If you are worried about a language barrier, you can buy in advance Translation Cards (in various languages) that clearly describe your allergy.
Do I need to declare a nut allergy on travel insurance application?
Yes, this is very important. See this article for more information on the importance of declaring medical conditions.
Why does holiday insurance for nut allergy sufferers cost more?
The reason is simple, though not necessarily fair: insurers anticipate that a person with nut allergies (compared to someone without) has a much higher probability of making a claim on their insurance. And the more likely they believe you are to make a claim, the higher the cost of the insurance.
Insurers are typically concerned about claims for cancelled holidays or for medical treatment whilst abroad.
What questions will the insurance company ask me?
Once you have declared your nut allergies, your insurer will probably need to ask you some questions, to find out more about your condition. These might include:
• Does your nut allergy present the risk of life-threatening allergic reactions?
• Have you needed hospital treatment for your nut allergy in the last 2 years?
Will my choice of holiday destination affect the price of insurance?
It’s always a good idea to tell your insurer exactly where you are going. If you only declare general, non-specific information such as “Europe”, your insurer will assume the highest potential cost within that region. (When it comes to medication and treatment, the costs vary significantly between different European countries).
Also, be aware that some regions outside Europe are particularly expensive – not least the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. Holidays on Cruise Ships are also seen as having a very high potential cost, because their on-board medical teams are not usually equipped to deal with the more serious health problems, and so may have to airlift people to the nearest hospital.