Getting insurance if you are in a clinical trial

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 and the type of insurance.
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

Before you buy any insurance, check whether your personal insurance, any work insurance, plus the clinical trial insurance gives you the cover you need.
Clinical trials must have insurance to cover people taking part. This is so that they can pay you compensation if you have a serious injury as a direct result of being part of their trial. Ask the team running your clinical trial what is included. 

Answering questions

Taking part in clinical research may not affect the insurance cover you get. Most of the time, insurance companies will ask about your medical condition but won’t be worried about the fact that you are taking part in a trial. But if your insurer asks, you need to tell them. 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.
You may need to answer questions about the results of tests you have had, or details of tests you are going to have, as part of the trial. Some insurers may want to know test results for your condition (or related conditions) 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
  • anything you have been diagnosed with
  • any advice you have taken or treatment you have had outside of the clinical trial, even if you found out about the condition as a result of tests during the trial
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

If you have cancer, or another medical condition, it can be difficult to get travel insurance. And the insurance company are likely to charge more to insure you.  But taking part in a clinical trial is unlikely in itself to mean that you have to pay any more, or that they won’t agree to insure you at all. Most insurance companies are not likely to ask about taking part in a trial. But if they do, you must tell them.
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
  • a 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 insurance

Joining a clinical trial should not affect life or critical illness insurance cover that you already have. You don’t generally have to tell your insurer that you are taking part in a clinical trial. This is the case even if you are found to have a condition that you didn’t know about before, such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease.
This is because this type of insurance is long term, and the terms are set out at the start of the policy. Once the policy has started it will continue until you either cancel it or make a claim. The insurance company cannot change the terms of your policy or cancel it, unless they find out that you didn’t tell them something relevant that you already knew when you applied for cover. 

Income protection

Taking part in a clinical trial looking at drugs that have been licensed, scans or comparing different types of surgery is unlikely to affect the cover you could get. But this also depends on your diagnosis. The cover you can get may be affected if you take part in a clinical trial of:
  • drugs that are considered experimental
  • new types of non drug treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy or other experimental medical procedures
As with life or critical illness insurance, taking part in a clinical trial shouldn’t affect any income protection insurance that you already have.

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 having experimental treatment. But the company covering you may make payments to cover taking part in a clinical trial on a case by case basis. You would need to check with 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 the future. Or it may change the terms you are offered when you apply for insurance. For example, the insurer may increase the amount you need to pay to get cover. But they are more likely to do this because of a change in your medical condition than because you have taken part in a trial.
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 diagnosed 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 helped us produce this information.

Related information


Last reviewed

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

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