In the 12 months from April 2013 to April 2014, a total of 4,655 organ transplants were carried out in the UK. That figure charts enormous progress over a relatively short space of human history, given that the world’s first successful kidney transplant was achieved (in Chicago, USA) as recently as 1950. It is thanks in no small part to the continued advances made by medical science, of course. But the general public is also making a significant and increasing contribution – the NHS Organ Donor Register now lists more than 20 million people who have pledged to help others, with hundreds more signing up every day.
These numbers and the improvements made in the field of organ transplant have inspired us to start our group for transplant travel insurance.
Transplant Patients and Travel Insurance
If you have recently had a transplant, it is very likely that you will have been advised against travelling within the 1st year following your operation. This is because after a transplant, it is during the first that you are at the most risk of infections. Beyond that 1st year, provided you are not experiencing rejection, your doctor will hopefully be able to give you the all-clear to travel.
It’s important to be aware of the additional precautions you should take (as a transplant patient). These include things such as always using sun screen, avoiding the water in certain destinations and being aware of your abilities – and their limits – when planning activities. Be aware that any immunosuppressive medication that you are taking could decrease the effectiveness of certain vaccines: therefore, if your planned destination requires vaccinations – and this is often especially the case with developing nations – it’s very important that you discuss this in advance with your doctor.
The website Travel Health Advisor provides a very useful starting point for those wanting to know more about taking the necessary precautions, whether you need information about travel insurance for kidney transplant patients, heart transplant patients or any of the less common transplants.
Wherever you are going, try to gather as much information as possible about your destination, including local hospital care. Finally, be sure to protect yourself with a good travel insurance policy – because if you do need treatment whilst abroad or emergency evacuation back to your home country, costs can be very high and you want to know that those costs will be taken care of.
Why does travel insurance cost more for transplant patients?
Insurers are always concerned about the possibility of a claim, because these are the costs their business has to pay. Claims are typically either for cancelled holidays, for medical treatment whilst abroad or for returning a sick patient back to their home country for further treatment. Insurers try to assess how often these claims are likely to happen and how much they will cost when they do.
So when considering transplant patients, the insurance industry will take into account certain factors, such as their reduced ability to fight infections (related to the immunosuppressant drugs that transplant patients must take).
When applying for transplant travel insurance, it is essential that you declare the details of your transplant, because it is considered a “pre-existing medical condition”. The travel insurer will then need to ask you a number of questions relating to your condition before they offer you a quote. These may include questions such as:
• How long is it since you had your transplant?
• Have you had any episodes of rejection within the last year?
• Was the transplanted organ donated by a family member?
• Have you been admitted to hospital in the last 12 months for treatment related to your transplant?
Will my choice of holiday destination affect the price of insurance?
If you need to receive emergency medical treatment whilst you are on holiday, or need to be flown home with medical supervision, the associated costs can vary significantly depending on the country you are in (or taken to) for treatment. For this reason it is always advisable 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.
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.