Ask Mary 2020-05-11T16:24:31+01:00

Ask Mary

Frequently asked questions about specialist travel insurance answered by Mary!

Specialist travel insurance can be a tricky area to navigate, so it pays to have an expert in your corner. That’s where Mary Holt comes in – she is a specialist in medical screening and travel insurance for those with medical conditions who may struggle to get cover for their holiday.

Mary has nearly twenty years’ experience with medical travel insurance provider Free Spirit, which makes her well-placed to offer help and guidance on finding travel insurance for those of all ages with existing health conditions.

No two peoples’ circumstances are the same, and it helps to be as informed as possible before making a decision about travel insurance for a particular medical condition. With this in mind, you can ask Mary a question about medical travel insurance in relation to your specific needs via the Free Spirit website.

Here are some of the questions about travel insurance for people with existing medical conditions that Mary has received, along with her answers. Feel free to have a read through, and please don’t hesitate to ask Mary a question yourself.

Please note that all names and specific medical information have been removed from the questions and answers to protect the identity of the people asking the questions.

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Questions about heart conditions travel insurance

Q: I am being asked to declare any medical condition within the past five years. I had a heart attack 20 years ago so I have been taking medication ever since. I have no problems now. Do I need to declare the heart attack on my specialist travel insurance?

Mary: Great to hear you are well. Yes, if you are taking prescribed medication, you would have to declare your Heart Attack when applying for Free Spirit medical travel insurance. Other providers may have different criteria, so you are best to contact them and check if you need to declare your condition.


Q:  Hello Mary – we are looking for travel insurance for Europe for my husband. He had a sudden Cardiac Arrest 20 months ago which was found to be idiopathic. All tests cannot find the cause. He has been fitted with an internal defibrillator and we are awaiting a final test. He has other conditions for controlled cholesterol and Type 1 Diabetes. We have been turned down by other insurers. Is this something Free Spirit would consider?

Mary: I am sorry to hear that you and your husband are having difficulty finding travel insurance for your trip to Europe.  Unfortunately, we can only cover conditions with a confirmed diagnosis, so Free Spirit would not be suitable on this occasion. 

However, we do have a policy called Travel Plus which offers wide-ranging cover but it would exclude all claims directly or indirectly resulting from any Cardiac/Heart related incidents. If this would be of interest, please call us to discuss in more detail.

Of course, if a confirmed diagnosis comes back from the current test results you are awaiting, we would consider covering on Free Spirit. Best of luck.

Q: Dear Mary, my husband may have suffered a mild Heart Attack and was released from hospital under medication. He is awaiting tests. We are due to go on holiday in two weeks’ time. We have already paid for the holiday and I wonder if we are best to cancel our trip and claim back on our travel insurance or take extra cover?

Mary: I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s possible Heart Attack. If you have travel Insurance already in place, it may be worth talking to your provider to see what options they can give you.

If not, please call us and we may be able to help. Please note that we would not be able to provide cover under Free Spirit due to your husband awaiting tests, however P J Hayman medical travel insurance has another policy – Travel Plus – through which we may be able to offer cover excluding any heart-related claims.

Questions about cancer travel insurance

Q: Is it possible for my travel insurance to exclude Cancer, as I have been clear for several years now? Thank you.

Mary: Wonderful to hear that you are clear of Cancer. Unfortunately, we cannot exclude a medical condition on our travel insurance and we do not have another product that would exclude a diagnosed condition.

Questions about organ transplant travel insurance

Q:  Can you please let me know if non-standard travel insurance is required for an otherwise healthy kidney donor?

Mary: Organ donation is an incredible thing to do. I’m very happy to hear that you are well. Donating an organ like a kidney can put a massive strain on the body, so you will need specialist travel insurance.

The best thing to do is call and speak to a travel insurance provider who have expertise in providing cover to people with medical conditions. You can also find out more about Kidney Conditions travel insurance.

Q: I’ve had a Heart Transplant and no longer have a condition, but it’s not mentioned on your list. What should I put?

Mary: Great to hear you no longer have a condition. If a particular condition does not appear on our system we are always here to help find an alternative way of approaching the situation.

I would recommend giving us a call so the team can go through a more in-depth declaration for you. There’s also more information about travel insurance for Organ Transplants here.

Questions about mental health travel insurance

Q: I have bipolar and want to go to South Africa and New Zealand. I am 25 years old. How much would it cost on insurance?

Mary: We would need to speak to you about your condition in more detail before we can provide you with a quote, but yes, we may be able to help you with medical travel insurance. Please contact the team so we can prepare a quote for you.

You can also find out more about Mental Health travel insurance.

Questions about diabetes travel insurance

Q: Hello Mary, my wife is 60 years of age and has Type 2 Diabetes which is controlled. I’m aged 69 and have had my gallbladder out. What will we have to pay for Free Spirit travel insurance?

Mary: Free Spirit carry out a simple but effective medical screening process before providing a premium for specialist travel insurance, so we would need some more information about yourself and your wife’s medical history first.

This is because the premium depends on a number of different factors, which may well be unique to you and your wife. There’s more information about our medical screening procedure here.

Questions about medical screening

Q:  When I went through your medical screening, I found two of the questions a bit confusing and open to interpretation; “Have you been advised to lower your cholesterol?” and “Has your cholesterol level ever been raised?”

I had a heart attack and two stents were fitted. The doctor put me on statins which has now lowered my cholesterol. How does this sit with the questions above?

MaryPlease screen the Heart Attack and stenting at the end of those questions. It will ask you about medication for Hypertension that will lead into the Cholesterol questions.

One of them is, ‘Has a blood test EVER at any time shown your cholesterol level to be high?’ If you have never been told that your cholesterol has been raised, you would answer ‘No’. If it has ever been raised over the guide line of 5.00, then you would say ’Yes’.

Q: If the terms ‘Pacemaker’ or ‘Osteoporosis’ are input as “medical conditions” it would seem they are not recognised or ignored. Many screening systems accept these terms and record them as declared. Are these conditions covered by your underwriters?

Mary: Yes, we may be able to provide specialist travel insurance for both of these conditions. However, as the fitting of a pacemaker is a procedure, you would have to screen the condition that caused you to have the pacemaker fitted. With the Osteoporosis, please type in ‘Osteop’ and the condition will come up.

Q: Dear Mary, I suffer from Atrial Fibrillation controlled by medication. Twelve years ago, I had a stroke. Why do non-standard travel insurance companies charge a higher premium to cover my medical conditions?

Mary: The cost of travel insurance is based on a number of factors, including destination, trip duration, age and medical conditions. We take all this information via a medical screening assessment during which we ask a few simple questions. The system produces a medical score which we then convert into a premium. The medical screening does not look to diagnose, but simply assesses the likely risk of a claim occurring.

Many standard travel insurance policies will not cover existing medical conditions, so whilst they may be cheaper, it could mean you taking out a policy with no cover for cancellation or emergency medical treatment resulting from your declared medical conditions. I hope this helps.

Questions about travelling to particular destinations

Q: Can I take out an Annual travel insurance for UK only? My wife and I are both in our 60s.

Mary: Unfortunately, Free Spirit does not have a policy at the present time that will cover you on an Annual Multi-trip basis for the UK only. We can offer an Annual Multi-trip policy for Europe that would cover the UK. Alternatively, we can offer you a Single Trip policy for UK trips.

Q: Dear Mary, I have an Annual Multi-trip European policy with Free Spirit travel insurance. I am now looking to travel to Canada for two weeks. Can I change my policy to cover this trip?

Mary: Yes, we can consider upgrading your Annual Multi-trip policy to cover Worldwide destinations including Canada. We would need to check there has been no change to your health and check the medical screening. In most cases, there would be an additional premium to pay as you are travelling to a higher rated area where medical costs are more expensive than Europe.

However, in some cases we may not be able to provide cover and we will offer you a Single Trip policy instead.

Questions about travel insurance

Single Trip travel insurance

Q: My husband and I have annual travel insurance with our bank. On trying to renew it they won’t cover my hip replacements this time. I can only assume it is due to my having an x-ray last November on my lower back hip area due to some discomfort. The x-ray showed only normal wear and tear and the discomfort was gone after two days with no treatment.

I have had no problem since and walk regularly up to a mile a day with no medication or painkillers for my hips. Would your “Arthritis” travel insurance cover me for a single trip for 21 days? We would like to keep our bank insurance current. I have had insurance with this condition from Free Spirit in the past.

Mary: We may be able to help with a quote for Single Trip specialist travel insurance cover, please call Free Spirit to talk it through with a member of the team. You can also find out more about Arthritis travel insurance.

Q: Dear Mary, last year I took out an Annual policy which expires on 28/09/2017, but this year I only require a Single Trip policy for a holiday which starts on 10th December to 4th January 2018. My question is – when should I take out this policy?

Mary: To ensure you are covered for cancellation of your trip, the best thing to do is take out a medical travel insurance policy as soon as you have booked the trip. With Free Spirit single trip insurance, your cancellation insurance will start as soon as your policy is in place, so if you cannot travel due to ill health, you will be covered, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.

Multi-trip travel insurance

Q: Hi Mary, I have an Annual Multi-trip Europe 2 policy with you and have decided to travel to USA for a two-week holiday to see family. Can I add this to my existing policy?

Mary: Absolutely, we would be happy to look at upgrading your existing policy for the two-week trip. The additional premium would be calculated from the start date of the policy. However, it could be more cost-effective to take out a Single Trip policy for your USA holiday. Please contact us to discuss this with one of our team. 

Q: I would like to get a quote for an Annual Multi-trip policy to include worldwide and cruise cover for myself and one daughter who is aged over 18. My daughter has got medical conditions. Is cover available with Free Spirit? I look forward to hearing from you.

Mary: We may be able to provide specialist travel insurance for your trip and cruise, we would just need to ask you a few simple questions about your daughter’s condition so we can consider if we are able to offer cover. If we can, one of the best things about our travel insurance is that it will cover your daughter and yourself too.

Please contact us to discuss in more detail. In some cases, we are not able to issue an Annual policy and we will offer you a Single Trip Policy instead.

Questions about travel insurance for other conditions

Q: I’m trying to get cover for my daughter who has Sleep Apnoea and uses oxygen. Is this something you can cover?

Mary: Thank you for your query, Free Spirit may be able to help with a quote for medical travel insurance for Sleep Apnoea. Please contact the team and tell us more about your daughter’s condition. 

Questions about cover

Q: Hello Mary – does the Free Spirit policy cover for repatriation if I were to be taken ill abroad?

Mary: Yes, the policy covers repatriation if it is deemed medically necessary. This is covered under Emergency Medical Expenses. It needs to be agreed by the 24-hour assistance company. You can find information regarding this in the policy wording.

Q: I have a disabled son who requires oxygen overnight and a heart monitor, so we have to take a portable oxygen concentrator and stats machine with us. Would Free Spirit cover the medical equipment for loss or theft for a trip to France?

Mary: Thank you for your email. We would be happy to look at providing a quote for your holiday. The cover limit for medical equipment is £1,000 on the Super level of cover and £2,000 on the Super Duper level of cover. Find out more about the different levels of specialist travel insurance that we offer here.

Q: Dear Mary, I know your maximum trip limit is 94 days. If I needed cover for 100 days, could I take out Free Spirit for 94 days and renew it for the extra days?

Mary: Unfortunately, we would not be able extend the 94-day trip duration under our Free Spirit scheme. However, Free Spirit is part of travel insurance specialists, P J Hayman & Company and we have a range of other policies that may suit your requirements. Please contact us and we will be more than happy to see if we can help.

Questions about no age limit travel insurance

Q: My mother is 90 years of age and lives in England. She would like to visit us in Canada for two weeks. The only medication she takes is for blood pressure. What are the options, if any, for travel insurance?

Mary: Thank you for your email. There is no upper age limit on the non-standard travel insurance Free Spirit provide, so we may well be able to supply you with a quote for your mother’s trip. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Q: Dear Mary, my partner and myself are traveling to USA for four weeks. We want to take my partner’s mother with us, who is 95 years of age. She has been to her doctor who has confirmed she is fit to travel. Could you send us some information on your policy?

Mary: Our travel insurance for medical conditions has no upper age limit and it includes cover for cancellation and medical emergencies. If it is something that may suit your needs, please contact us.

Find out more about the specialist travel insurance we offer here.

Send your questions to Mary