First Published: Before August 2002
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
Without wishing to linger on the things that can go wrong on holiday (or even before you get there), it is sensible to consider how we would fare if we did have to cancel our trip because of an accident or illness either before we leave or when we're away.
If we had to come home early, would our partner/companion be able to cancel their holiday too? What if the flight is delayed (when isn't it?) or our baggage is stolen?

It's all to easy to just take whatever policy is offered to us when we book our holiday, either at a High Street travel agent or a gay-specific company. But don't! Have this checklist in front of you and shop around - it could make a lot of difference.

What kind of policy do you need? Many people buy insurance every time they travel. However, an annual policy can be significantly more economical. Check if the company offers you annual cover.

What are the premiums and the extent of cover? Some policies may be cheap but they're next to useless if they don't provide you with adequate protection. Ask about the levels.

Are you interested in a two year policy? They are out there but can lock you in for two years with penalties if you want to leave. This means that if a better deal comes along during this time, you don't have the flexibility and choice to take it. Not a good idea! A better alternative is to buy a policy that gives you a lower premium when you renew. In other words, a 'thank you'. Then, you have all the flexibility you need.

If you choose an annual policy, is there a maximum number of days in a year that you can travel? If so, shop around - it's perfectly possibly not to be limited in this way.

What is the excess? This is the amount that you have to meet if you make a claim, before the insurance kicks in. If you have a medical condition, this can be high and put you off seeking medical attention.

Does the policy fully respect same sex relationships so that you partner is treated in the same way as a spouse? If not, and one of you has to return home, your partner might not be able to claim.

Carrying this point on, does the policy treat same sex parent families equally? In our quest for equality, we mustn't forget that an increasing number of lesbians and gay men are or want to be parents.

Are you offered a special couple premium? This can work out to be significantly more economical than having to take out two separate policies. Check if a special rate is available on single trip as well as annual policies.

If you want to play sports when you are away, are they covered? If they are more risky, there may be an extra premium to pay. Check what this is.

How can you book your insurance? Can you do it all in one phone call and pay by debit/credit card? Can you pay by cheque? Can you go to a web site and pay on line? If so, are you paying through a secure server?

Is the company gay owned and gay run? This may not matter to you. However, would you feel more comfortable or like to support a company that understands the issues we face? Have they got a track record of providing this service to us or could they be jumping on the band-wagon? This can be especially important if you are HIV+, where experience and confidentiality are important.

Pre-existing medical conditions (including HIV)

If you have a medical condition, especially HIV, the vast majority of policies will either specifically exclude you or charge a high premium. Alternatively, or additionally, they may have a high excess figure (see above).
Check to ensure your medical condition can be included and, if so, if there is an increase in the premium or excess. Being HIV+ doesn't mean you have to go without being covered by travel insurance. Even if you find a policy that does include HIV, you still need to check it out. There can be pitfalls and dangers and they don't all offer the same.

If you have a medical condition, what do you have to do to have it included? Do you have to fill in a medical questionnaire, get a doctor's reports, telephone a separate medical assessment company (who you probably know nothing about) and divulge personal information to them? Where does this information go? If you have to telephone a medical assessment line, it's already gone somewhere! You don't have to go through this process. It is possible to be accepted for cover by the same company that is providing you with insurance.

What criteria are being used to decide whether to offer or decline you cover? Different companies require different amounts and kinds of information. Some will not cover you if you've recently started or changed combination therapy. Some use your CD4 count and viral load figures. It's fair enough to ask for some information (no insurance company is going to cover absolutely everyone) but don't let it turn into an interrogation! It's not necessary.

There is still a lot of stigma attached to HIV in some countries. Would you prefer to come back to the UK if you require hospital treatment? Your own hospital has your records and test results. Instead of having to go through a whole load of tests that have possibly already been done, check if the policy will get you back to the UK or if you will be expected to stay where you are. Will the company let you return to the UK only if it is absolutely necessary?

Where are you travelling? Some companies won't cover you if you are HIV+ and travelling to the United States or more remote parts of the world.

Some policies won't offer you annual cover if you are HIV+.

Don't forget to check if there is a premium increase because of being positive.

If your partner or travelling companion(s) have their own insurance, they may not be covered to curtail their trip if you need to because of an HIV-related condition (their policy's HIV exclusion would prevent this). It's better that you all book with a company that includes HIV cover, even if your companions aren't positive themselves.

Our recommendation

OutUK has partnered with Easy! travel insurance, provided through a company called The Card, who are based in Twickenham, Middlesex. It is a gay owned and gay run business that has developed from a voluntary organisation, Positive Discounts.
The company has provided services to the lesbian, gay and HIV communities for almost ten years, it's a member of the Gay Business Association of the UK and of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.

Their policy includes HIV cover (as well as many other medical conditions), has high levels of cover, reasonable premiums and is respectful of same sex relationships and families. In fact, they have enhanced HIV cover, as they agree to repatriate someone if they need hospitalisation.

Single trip and annual cover is available with reduced premiums if you renew an annual policy.

Everything is done in one phone call (even if you have a medical condition, you don't have to phone a medical assessment company). You can also book on line securely.

The Card also has a discount programme that enables you to obtain discounts throughout the UK and in many other countries. There's a special Pink Discount Directory that lists lesbian and gay shops and businesses that will give you discounts.

If you want to find out more either phone 0330 606 1423 (from outside the UK: +44 20 3189 1214) or go to or


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