The facts about travel insurance and depression.
Depression is a common illness. Today, mental health problems, that Winston Churchill once called ‘the black dog’, affect an estimated 1 in 4 people. It affects the way people travel too, so it’s very relevant to us here at World First. And it stands to reason that there are those among us with first hand experience. Our social media man Tristan Rothwell is a lifelong sufferer. Here he has written us the definitive guide to travel insurance and depression.
So, please remember if you suffer from mental health problems, we understand. You are not alone. Over to Tristan...
I refuse to suffer with my depression. Instead I choose to embrace it. This makes me stay healthy in a way that if I didn’t have my depression, I might not do. I recently took the ‘brave’ step, with the help of my Doctor, of reducing my medication for the first time in nearly 20 years. I went from 40mg of Citalopram a day down to 30mg. The good news? So far so good.
So I know a little bit about mental health. I understand that there are lots of other people in the same boat. And many of them, like me, don’t want to stop travelling. But it can sometimes be difficult to get the right cover if you don’t know where to go.
Do I have to declare my depression to my travel insurance company?
Yes, most definitely. All medical conditions need to be declared and depression is no different. It’s easy to think “It hasn’t bothered me in years. I take my medication. Nobody will ever find out.” but, with all Insurance policies, honesty is the best policy. Without all the facts we can’t ensure you are fully covered.
But it’s going to make my Insurance premium ‘sky high’ isn’t it?
Not necessarily. It all depends on how your individual screening goes. Don’t panic though – it isn’t as scary or cut and dried as it sounds. We simply ask you a series of questions and our screening system (it’s called Protectif) will tell us what kind of risk you are. And it’s never as bad as you fear because Protectif screens in a way that’s different from others, so making it more understanding of conditions. To find out more, read more about how we screen for 1000s of different medical conditions.
But first, here are our questions:
Question One. Are you awaiting treatment with a medical professional?
If you have no appointments booked in relation to your depression then that would attract zero additional premiums, which in English means your policy won’t cost you any extra.
Question Two. How long ago was the condition identified?
Over 6 months ago? If so, again no increased cost! The reason being that if you have been diagnosed less than 6 months ago, it may be that you are getting used to new medication (and take it from me it can take some getting used to!). You are also likely to have further appointments booked with your Doctor. Medication can take a few months to really take effect and start working efficiently.
Question three. Are you taking prescribed medication?
Just because you are taking your prescribed medication, it does not mean that your premiums are going to be higher. My 30mg of Citalopram a day does not increase my premium.
Question four. Has your medication been changed in the last 8 weeks?
If your medication has been changed in the last 8 weeks then it may end up costing you a little extra, which makes sense as it may mean your depression has returned and has needed treatment. You may need appointments and further monitoring too, but if you have been on the same medication for longer than 8 weeks then this should not affect the cost. Conversely, a reduction in medication such as mine is going to affect the premium! Why? It’s not a forgone conclusion that reducing medication is going to work out and does put me at risk of a relapse. However, it represents a small change.
Question Five. Have you been hospitalised with this condition in the last two years?
I am fortunate as I have never been hospitalised with my depression. Even if you have, as long as it is over two years ago, you should not find it costs you any extra. If you have been hospitalised (and I did a test quote for myself with depression going to Spain on a World First Economy Single trip - Self-admitting to hospital in the last 6 months and being in hospital between 1 – 4 weeks), it added less than the cost of a non-alcoholic pint (alcohol is a depressant) to my premium.
Question Five. Are you under the care of a local mental health team?
If you take your medication and manage your illness without help from your community health team, then no extra premium is due. The vast majority of us take medication with an occasional trip to the doctor to check all is ok and never have to seek the help of the health team.
Question 6. Has this condition ever caused you to cancel a holiday?
Personally, no! Never in fact! Once that holiday is booked, my mood is automatically lifted and the very thought of really having something to look forward to is therapy in itself. So, if you have never had to cancel a holiday, then in Insurance speak it will be “zero premium attracted”.
You might be wonder why we ask this question. If you suffer from anxiety alongside your depression then it may be that your anxiety levels increase as the holiday draws closer. You may fear the holiday, so causing you to cancel.
Does depression always mean paying more for travel insurance?
No! If you are worried about it, just speak to us and we can talk you through it, making the whole process as painless as possible.
Top tips for travelling with depression
- First of all, pack that medication! Check and double check that you have it. This is definitely rule number one. You need to take it regularly (ideally at the same time each day) and a holiday is no reason not to. And ALWAYS remember to take a copy of your prescription.
- Booze in moderation! I don’t drink at all due to my depression as it makes it much worse. But some peope do enjoy a cheeky vino on holiday, and why not? Just don’t overdo it! Alcohol is a depressant and can make your depression much worse.
- I travel with a copy of a Paul McKenna CD that I bought years ago. That way, when it all gets too much, I pop that on. It really does seem to help me. Some people have similar rituals. If you are the same, make sure you take whatever you need. If it all gets a bit overwhelming you can take a bit of time out. Whatever works for you.
- Above all, enjoy the holiday!
Sure, you might get anxious beforehand. This is normal for lots of people, even those that don’t have a mental health problem. Just relax, enjoy the holiday and recharge those batteries!