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Travelling the world when you have rheumatoid arthritis

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 22 September 2022 | Created: 29 June 2017

This blog tells the inspirational travel story of an AllClear Customer, Patricia Senior.

The obstacle of getting travel insurance for medical conditions

Having suffered from a type of Rheumatoid Arthritis almost all of her life, when she started to travel following retirement, Patricia Senior has had her fair share of frustrations when trying to buy travel insurance: “I often found that as soon as I mentioned my medical condition, I was either refused outright or asked to jump through hoops, being passed from one department to the next whilst they worked out what to do with me,” she says.

Patricia believes that many are often oblivious as to what to declare to their insurer. She also thinks that when cover is declined, some either hide their condition or decide not to travel at all, which is a pity. As someone who has come to enjoy travelling later in life, she is therefore keen to help make sure other people in a similar situation aren’t put off.

Patricia is approaching 70 and due to her arthritis, she has had to undergo two major operations – one to have her knee cap removed in her 20s and a knee replacement in her 40s, which is still going strong after 30 years and keeping Patricia mobile. She manages her Arthritis without taking any medication, but she does take medication for angina.

Finding new adventures in retirement

Patricia and her husband – who are both retired teachers – barely travelled when they were younger as they were restricted to school holidays and preferred to stay and enjoy the English summers in their garden. That all changed when they reached retirement. They joined their friends on an annual trip to Wave Gotik Treffen, the world’s largest Gothic festival – based in Germany.

Since this discovery, Patricia and her husband have been every year, and would typically buy a single trip policy. More recently, and with the draw of other festivals in other parts of Europe, she has opted for an annual policy as being better value, and having cover in place for more spontaneous journeys.

But more importantly, Patricia has found an insurance provider that she can rely on: “Now that I have found the AllClear website, I will never go anywhere else. It is extremely user-friendly and gives me a range of options that are easy to understand,” she explains.

“I have lived with my conditions my entire life, or large parts of it, and know the details of them back to front, so I would rather answer questions on an online form. I like being able to review everything myself rather than giving details over the phone. This gives me control and reassurance that I have provided the correct information. And with a number of different policy options I can always choose the right travel insurance that suits me best.”

Building the confidence of others to journey further

Patricia’s experience has given her much more confidence when it comes to buying travel insurance. “For some people, the idea of making a medical declaration might be daunting, and others may not even realise what they should declare. In fact, I might never have known, for example, that my husband would have to tell the insurer about his ‘run-of-the-mill’ hernia operation if I hadn’t filled out so many forms for myself over the years!”

But Patricia recognises how unnerving it can be: “For people who might be put off when their normal insurer turns you down, you shouldn’t give up hope,” she says. “There are specialist insurers. But whatever you do, make sure you declare everything, whether you are calling up or buying cover online.”