If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may well feel in need of the rest and relaxation that only a good holiday can offer. And provided your doctor has given the all-clear for you to travel, you shouldn’t let anything stand between you and your dream destination.
Travelling with RA
Several websites and organisations now offer good, practical advice for those with RA. For example, Rheumatoid Connect is a website with a wide variety of discussions and articles, both from health experts and from others living with the condition. There you’ll find a number of tips related to planning a holiday, such as:
• Consider packing lightly or using a suitcase that is easy to handle. One that is easy to push or pull can help you to save your energy and won’t put stress on your joints.
• If you are going to be sitting for long periods, try to make stops to stretch and walk. Move your legs and feet at least once every hour.
• Wear comfortable shoes especially if you are going to be walking or moving around in a busy airport.
Other travel-related tips for those with RA include:
• If travelling by air, reserve your seat in advance and ensure you get one with enough space to rest your legs and feet
• Try to find direct flights so you will not have to deal with changes
• Find accommodation with lifts instead of just stairs
• Try to choose a destination where the climate will not adversely affect your RA
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Travel Insurance
Before leaving the country, you should make sure you have good travel insurance that covers your condition. But unfortunately, the travel insurance industry can be quite hard on those with RA – sometimes charging excessive premiums to cover this condition, or sometimes refusing to offer insurance at all.
We think the situation can and needs to be improved, which is why we formed our Travel Insurance for Rheumatoid Arthritis Group. The remainder of this article explores why the situation exists today and how insurers approach the issue, as well as offering some useful advice to help you get the most out of the holiday itself and the travel insurance you need.
Why does travel insurance for rheumatoid arthritis cost more?
The reason is simple, though not necessarily fair: insurers anticipate that the likelihood of a claim being made by someone who already suffers from a medical issue is much higher than for a healthy person. And the more likely they believe you are to make a claim, the higher the cost of the insurance.
Insurers are mostly worried about having to pay the costs of any medical treatment that you need to receive whilst on holiday; and those costs may also vary based on where you are going (we give more information on this further below).
Do I have to tell the Insurance Company about my condition?
Yes, this is important. It is your responsibility to declare your RA (and any other medical conditions) to your travel insurance company. If you don’t, you may find that your insurance is invalid, or that you encounter problems when you need to make a claim.
See this article more information on the importance of declaring medical conditions.
What questions will the insurance company ask me?
Once you have declared your RA, your insurer will probably need to ask you some questions, to find out more about your condition. These might include:
• Have you had any of your joints replaced or resurfaced?
• How many unplanned hospital admissions have you had for this condition in the last year?
• How many medicines do you take for your arthritis?
• Do you currently use any mobility aids because of your arthritis?
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.