If you are living with HIV, then it can sometimes feel that everything you do is just that little bit harder.

Totally wrongly, there is still a great deal of stigma associated with HIV, which can sometimes make people with HIV think twice about going through any process where they might need to disclose their HIV status.

There has been a long and tortured history of HIV, AIDS and travel. In the early days of of the HIV AIDS epidemic, many countries would simply prohibit travellers who were living with HIV, and often if a person was living with HIV travel insurance would simply not be available, as even entering that country was breaking the law.

Many people with HIV still of course travelled, but rightly felt that the insurance sector, among many other sectors, was simply letting them down. However travelling without insurance – then and now – is not advisable.

Fortunately, Emerald Life is different. We were set up in 2016 specifically to ensure equality in the insurance sector, focussing on those groups who are often overlooked, such as women and the LGBT+ community.

But we also wanted to make sure that people with HIV could access insurance, and access it fairly to give peace of mind. So that’s what we did.

Why We’re Different

Many insurers aim to serve the mainstream, standard market. So smaller groups with different needs are often ignored, or the questions that they ask simply aren’t dealt with. Yet those questions are important, and often personal, so if a customers has asked a question related to their specific cover, that customer does not want to be greeted with silence, awkwardness or a simple lack of information.

And often, insurance providers may not even have thought about the need of those minority groups so either there is a gap in the cover that is available, or – as is the case with HIV and AIDS questions in the application process for travel or holiday insurance, the specific issues around HIV have been ignored.

The issue with travel insurance for people living with HIV in the UK is that customers need to declare all pre-existing medical conditions or medications before they travel. A customer who does not do this may not be covered at all, even if the need to make a claim is not related to that specific pre-existing medical condition.

That often means that people living with HIV do not take travel insurance. They are aware of the stigma that sometimes arises when they disclose their HIV status, or else there are other specialist insurers who want to charge more simply because that customers is living with HIV, irrespective of latest viral load, CD4 count or current health.

And Emerald’s view is simple. The role of insurers is to provide protection. An insurance provider that does not provide for all sectors of society is, quite simply, letting the public down.

So at Emerald, we made it very easy for people living with HIV to buy travel insurance. When you buy with Emerald, there is a specific note that says, provided that you currently undetectable and on stable medication, you do not need to declare your HIV status as a pre existing medical condition.

Why is that important?

Firstly we have talked above about the stigma of having to declare your HIV status when buying insurance. And that sometimes results in people not getting the cover they need.

Secondly, because you have not told us about your HIV status, it does not go on your insurance documents. In many cases on holiday, for example if hiring a windsurfer, you need to show your travel insurance schedule. That can be awkward if you have HIV listed as one of your pre existing medical conditions on those documents.

Lastly, we don’t charge a penny more because of your HIV status – something which sets us apart from some of the more old-fashioned specialist travel insurance providers.

Why Do I Need Travel Insurance For HIV?

It’s not really a question of whether you need travel insurance for HIV. There is no specific HIV travel insurance. The real question is simply should someone living with HIV take out travel insurance. The answer is yes. And then in that case you will have the same cover as any other insured customer (particularly in relation to medical issues) whether the need to claim is HIV related or not.

With Emerald, you can do your quote online, including medical screening for any other medical issues that you may have (remember with Emerald HIV with an undetectable viral load is not one of our pre existing conditions). Just make sure that you include all the pre existing conditions that you need to declare (please read the notes on our web journey), and if you like our quote and decide to buy, please always take your documents when you when you travel.

Medical Screening For HIV Cover

As discussed above, for an Emerald customer living with HIV travel insurance mostly involves no extra medical screening. Because there is no extra risk of customer with undetectable viral load travelling, we simply don’t need to know. However, you will need to go through our online medical screening process if you have any other conditions that you need to declare, although people with HIV can often be fitter and live longer because of their interest in staying fit and healthy.

What Does HIV Travel Insurance Typically Cover?

An Emerald travel insurance policy covers what you would expect in relation to medical issues, and provides 24/7 contact details should you need to make a claim. It covers 24 hour medical emergency issues, including repatriation, medical expense, certain personal liability, options such as winter sports or holiday cruise travel, and cancellation cover. For any options, you may have to pay an extra premium, and this will be noted on your policy. In certain cases it will also cover you if you need to cancel your holiday. But of course, the cover you have in any case will depend on the level of cover that you have and the general terms and conditions of the policy.

We want to make claims as easy as possible with our helpful staff. However, sometimes you may need to get emergency medical treatment and in the case of an emergency medical situation, there are different global numbers to call. We include these at the front of our travel insurance policies, so again, please take your travel documents when you do actually travel.

Despite our best efforts, there are some things that we can’t cover. For example in some countries antiretroviral medications are illegal. If you wanted to take a trip to any of those countries, and you lost your tablets, we would not be able to get replacement medication to you as that would be against the law in that country. In such a case, always remember to try to pack extra medication somewhere and cover your bases that way.

And In Conclusion?

We all know that travel insurance policies from different providers provide certain common levels of cover. But for those with more specialist needs, you need to read the small print. And the price of your insurance cover is important too. In that area as well, Emerald looks to provide a good level of cover at a cost that represents good value for those travelling. By all means feel free to get a few quotes to compare but from those quotes, also look at the cover. While there is no such thing as HIV travel insurance, you want to have good insurance

Emerald Life is the trading name of Emerald Life Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and registered in England and Wales. Call centre is open Monday to Friday