Insurance and clinical trials

This page tells you about how taking part in a clinical trial may affect different types of insurance, including travel insurance, life insurance, income protection and private medical insurance.

How a trial may affect your insurance

Taking part in a clinical trial may affect some types of insurance that you already have or are thinking of getting. This will depend on the type of trial.

You shouldn't have any problem getting cover if you are a healthy volunteer in a trial and are not having tests or treatment.

If you have a medical condition such as cancer, the cover you could get will depend on the type of insurance and what your condition is.

Before you take out insurance

Clinical trials must have insurance to cover people taking part. Ask the team running your clinical trial what is included. It may cover

  • Loss of earnings cover against harm from side effects or the actions of a member of the trial team
  • Injury, sickness or disability from taking part in a trial not recommended by your doctor
  • Having to cancel a holiday, or being sent back to the UK for medical treatment if you become ill on holiday
  • Before you buy any insurance, check whether your personal insurance, any work insurance, plus the clinical trial insurance gives you the cover you need.

When you apply for insurance

Taking part in clinical research may affect the insurance cover you get. If your insurer asks you, you need to tell them that you are taking part in a clinical trial. You must answer all their questions as fully and accurately as you can. If you don’t, your insurer may refuse to pay your claim, and could cancel your policy.

Always make sure you know what you need to tell the insurers for your particular policy. It is also important to know what the insurance policy covers before you take it out. If you are not sure, you can talk to your insurance company or to the person who sells you insurance on the company’s behalf (the insurance broker).

Answering questions

You will also need to answer questions about the results of tests you have had, or are going to have, as part of the trial. Some insurers may want results for the condition (or related conditions) you are being tested for before they offer you cover.

Insurers will not ask you about any results for genetic tests you have during a clinical trial. But they can ask about

  • Genetic test results from when you were diagnosed
  • Any diagnosis you have had
  • Any advice you have taken or treatment you have had outside of the clinical trial, even if you found out about the condition through clinical research

If your health changes

You should let your insurer know if your health changes between the time you apply for insurance and the time your insurance cover starts.

To make sure your cover still applies, check with your insurance company if you are not sure whether you need to tell them about something.

Travel insurance

You might still be able to get travel insurance cover if you take part in a clinical trial looking at

  • Drugs that are already licensed in the UK
  • Medical tests such as scans
  • Comparing different treatments, such as types of surgery or different cancer drugs

A travel insurance company may be less likely to insure you if you take part in a clinical trial of

  • Drugs that are considered experimental, even if you are healthy and have no history of illness
  • New types of non drug treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy or other experimental medical procedures

If you already have a travel insurance policy when you join the trial, you will need to tell the insurance company if any of your health details change. This could include

  • Results of any tests you have
  • Any change in symptoms
  • Treatment or other medicines you are taking (including any treatment as part of the clinical trial)
  • Any changes to an existing medical condition that you have

Life and critical illness protection insurance

Taking part in a clinical trial is unlikely to affect you taking out this type of cover.  It will depend on your diagnosis and on the results of any tests and investigations during the trial, in case these show up a new health problem.

Cover that you already have will not be affected if you join a clinical trial. Generally speaking, you don’t even have to tell your insurer that you are taking part in a clinical trial. This applies even if you are found to have a condition that wasn’t known about before, such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease.

Income protection

Taking part in a clinical research trial of licensed drugs, scans, or comparing different types of treatment is unlikely to affect the cover you could get. But this also depends on your diagnosis. You are unlikely to get cover if you take part in a clinical trial of

  • Experimental drugs, even if you are a healthy volunteer
  • New types of non drug treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy or other experimental medical procedures

A policy that you already have won’t be affected if you take part in a clinical research trial looking at drugs, scans, or comparing established types of surgery if you are

  • A healthy volunteer, or
  • Prescribed the drugs or surgery to treat your condition

Private medical insurance

You must tell your insurer that you are taking part in a clinical trial. Private medical insurance does not usually cover the cost or any outcomes of taking experimental treatment or drugs. But the company covering you may make payments to cover taking part in a clinical trial on a case by case basis. You can ask your insurer about this.

Taking out insurance after taking part in a trial

Health problems found through taking part in a clinical trial may affect whether you are able to take out insurance in future. Or it may change the terms you are offered when you apply for insurance. For example, the insurer may want to decrease your cover. Or the company may increase the amount you need to pay to get cover.

This doesn't apply to any results from tests to work out your risk of getting a particular disease (a predictive genetic test) that you may have as part of the trial. You don’t have to tell your insurer if you are a carrier of a genetic condition but have no symptoms. But if you later have treatment for a genetic condition discovered through clinical research, you will need to tell your insurer about this as part of your medical history.

Where to get information about insurance

We hope that this information is a useful guide. But you should always check your personal situation with your insurer, or the Association of British Insurers, who have provided and checked this information.

Related information

Find a clinical trial

How to join a clinical trial

Last reviewed

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Find a trial

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