Good News or Bad News - Travel Insurance in Australia for US trip

Hi all,

Hope everyone had a happy christmas. So whats ahead in 2017.

Had a visit to my Oncologist yesterday. Good news and bad news. My ALC has declined from 48.6 to 46.10 since Nov. Last. Yet my Oncolo. Warns against a brief holiday to Hawaii next month because of travel insurance .

I have been declined from several companies because of CLL yet I am not on any treatments. I live in Australia and have no other symptoms except tiredness.

I was diagnosed in Jan. 2016 with ALC at 21 and gradually increased up until last week.

I guess I would be considered stable now

Any suggestions re insurance.

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18 Replies

  • Surely you mean your oncologist has just warned you that travel insurance will be expensive, rather than warning you against your brief holiday? Given your ALC has barely changed, your CLL would be considered stable - assuming no change in other symptoms. (Reproducibility for lymphocyte count measurement is typically +/-0.5, so you could measure a standard sample with an ALC of 47 and get answers between 46.5 and 47.5 - all which would be considered acceptable, given test instrument variation. And that's assuming the same test equipment was used...)

    PS I've modified your title so you should get more answers.

  • Thnks Neil. Yes- He showed me a recent warning from the Gov. Where a traveller incurred a bill of $1.3 million.

  • Just something I came across when looking for travel insurance - I was told by a company that insuring someone going to the USA was very costly due to the high cost of medical care in the USA in comparison to a lot of other countries. Do hope you will be able to find travel insurance for your vacation.

    Sandy Beaches

  • I travel a lot and have never bothered to state my CLL on my travel insurance policy. I have no real symptoms and my travelling often involves adventure and activities such as snowboarding. I've had a nasty sprained ankle that required treatment whilst overseas but there was no need to mention my CLL and my policy covered all costs.

  • Hi Bexsue,

    It may be different there but in the UK, if we travel outside of the country, we are strongly advised to have travel insurance. The EHIC card covers (at present) for reciprocal public hospital treatment but not repatriation or additional family expenses or very expensive specialist treatment.

    We are required to declare all and every pre-existing condition otherwise the insurance policy is totally invalid in the event of a claim. We can ask for certain conditions to be excluded but with CLL, it's inadvisable.

    I can only assume you're meaning travelling in Australia because I would have concerns for claims in another country where you haven't disclosed a primary condition. They may not check with a sudden injury but should you for instance develop a bad chest infection (as I have abroad), you may fall foul of not declaring. Not an issue in our own country but can be monstrously expensive somewhere like the States.

    It's a constant issue and recently in Spain I was asked to chip in to help an elderly guy with pneumonia where his insurance wouldn't cover medical repatriation because he'd failed to disclose chest treatment that year! He was effectively stranded.

    It's a minefield and can be very expensive.



  • I travel all over the world and I guess if and when I develop symptoms that put me at a higher risk, I would have to look at divulging my CLL. Not being very risk averse, I guess I tend to not worry too much about this, whilst I'm lucky to be still so fit and healthy 3 years in. I'm about to head out on another trip to Europe in a few months, so fingers crossed. I'm sorry that this is yet another issue that we CLLers are faced with. Good luck to all and happy travels xx

  • Hi Bexsue,

    I completely endorse Newdawn's comments about the need to disclose " material facts ".As a retired insurance executive I can assure you that if you had a major claim for medical expenses ( and possibly any other section of the policy ) it is highly likely that any claim would be rejected .Unfortunately CLL makes you more vulnerable to certain infections which means a claim could easily occur. Effectively you are travelling without insurance if you do not declare.

    I have had CLL now for about 3 years ( on watch and wait with, I am relieved to say, stable blood counts ).We still travel extensively, just back from Australia , and regularly to the Caribbean , which is in the same category as the USA, and, therefore, our travel insurance is certainly not cheap but absolutely essential . I am not sure where you live, but certainly in the UK there are about 3/4 insurance companies who will give cover . Several of us have written on this subject before so you should be able to find earlier posts about travel insurance.

  • Yes i too travelled to europe recently from Australia and didn't cover myself for CLL due to expensive cost although my insurance did cover anything else as CLL is preexisting. I too am on W@W and hopefully stay like this. I love this site as it helps to understand the illness and gives great advice

    So thanks 🌺

  • Lots of travel companies that cover those with medical conditions here in the UK so I presume your country is the same.

    USA for me is a no no because of the high cost of insurance. Many places in the world far cheaper.

    You think why should I declare my CLL as it's not going to bother me whilst away, I act as normal, I look normal. But it is the risk. Say you picked up a tummy bug and ended up being rehydrated in hospital you'd have to tell. Even if you fall and crack a tooth you'd need to tell the dentist. We all know that insurance companies will scrutinise claims closely before paying out.

    Fully comp. insurance is a must and an extra cost for us who are special.

  • Yes the USA is, in my experience, the most expensive destination in terms of medical insurance. I went the for 3 weeks in 2015 and the medical insurance cost me £194. I've just booked 3 weeks in New Zealand for later this year and the insurance is just £56. But I agree with other responses here that insurance is a must. Hope you get it sorted and have a great holiday.

  • I don't want to labour this point or sound overly anxious or cautious but the point devon makes is very valid. Insurance companies will do everything in their power to avoid paying out. When I fell badly whilst abroad, there were questions relating to my general health such as had I been feeling light headed, generally unwell or lost consciousness. Had I needed to be airlifted home the insurance company would not have paid out if I hadn't declared my CLL and other conditions in advance even though the injury was totally unrelated to anything else. It's not just about having symptoms I'm afraid. As far as insurance companies are concerned, there is an inextricable link between conditions/injuries and if there's a get out clause, they'll find it. Non disclosure is an expensive risk especially with an unpredictable condition.

    Happy and safe travels.


  • I also have low grade CLL, WBC and Lymphs in the 30s and have had it for 8 1/2 years and not needed treatment. I also travel to and within the USA a lot as I have family there. I don't know what the situation is for those based in Australia, but in the UK I have found a company that will cover me at reasonable cost. The problem is that everything related to healthcare and medical expenses in the US is so expensive so insurance companies charge the highest premiums for North America. UK insurance companies will only insure those who are based in the UK.

  • Hi

    We're from Australia and have travelled quite a bit since my wife's diagnosis, still watch and wait. We have used medibank private travel insurance which anyone can use, members get 10 percent off premium. Have to answer about three questions regarding CLL but if approved are covered for this condition. From memory they ask if you have had treatment etc. Since then I have found to also cover CLL. Probably underwritten by the same company but were quite a bit cheaper in covering my wife compared to medibank while being a similar coverage for everything else. (Excess etc). Although tempting to travel without covering the condition, we wouldn't do it personally.



  • Having litigated insurance claims, I can confirm that it is a fundamental principle of insurance that you disclose all material facts. If you do not the insurer can void the policy. CLL is clearly material to a claim for medical treatment. The insurer can decide too that it is material to the entire claim, eg cancellation, delay, etc.

  • Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for all the responses. They are much appreciated.

    This site is very helpful and informative.



  • I get insurance (for US trips) from usual sources at usual price....there is a proviso that any CLL-related incident is NOT covered (as I have declared it). So I am going at my own risk re CLL. My reasoning is my CLL stable, it is a slow-moving disease and I am usually in US for only 3 weeks. So v unlikely to have any 'incident' and if I did, I would just jump on plane back. So I take the insurance. To me, insurance is really covering emergencies (heart attack, car accidents....all of which are clearly not CLL related), so I am happy with the arrangement (even though it shows insurance companies really do not understand the disease).

    You look pretty stable to me. So you should be able to find insurance and at no extra cost...

  • I wouldn't take any risks where insurance is concerned. The last time I was in Hawaii (from California) many years ago I went out horse back riding with my sister and came back in an ambulance, after convincing the paramedics that they were not going to helicopter me across the ocean (had visions of dangling in a basket) to Maui. Broken right shoulder, broken ribs, two sprained knees, two sprained ankles, and I already had a frozen pinkie on my left hand from an accident before the trip. I was very fortunate that my whole family (adults) were there and that I didn't have anything worse to deal with. It was right after Christopher Reeves had his accident. The whole experience gave me a different perspective about travel insurance. My medical was good in Hawaii for emergencies and my family got me back home, but had I been traveling alone and / or in a foreign country ????? That was before CLL.

  • Here's an update on travel insurance. As my son and family have moved to USA, I'm visiting there too - I plan to go frequently to see my granddaughter. I am symptom-free, very fit and active and W&W on annual review. Last year I had annual cover for me and my illness-free wife from MIAOnline for £260 for worldwide incl USA. This year they have a new questionnaire which, much to the company's telephone interviewer' surprise, rejected CLL. I have written and asked why but received no reply.

    I then worked my way through the Cancer Research UK list of organisations who will insure cancer cases. This was a dispiriting experience which I did not complete as I discovered that they were mostly brokers using the same filtering questionnaire supplied presumably by the same underwriters and producing identical answers. These questionnaires almost all rejected me though one or two wanted large premiums like £812 & £727. Saga, the company specialising in services for the over-50s, offered single trip only and for 10 days wanted £561.

    The questionnaires were quite general in their questioning as though all the many cancers are the same. The one company which is different is Insure Cancer which asked me specific questions on my blood counts and rejected me as 'too healthy'! Mr Krish Shastri explained to me on the phone that his company specialises in cancer cases which other companies would not insure. I subsequently discovered that he founded this award-winning company to fill this gap in the market and that he is a campaigner against the failures of the insurance industry in the cancer market. He wants us all to be making a great fuss about this to get a change in industry attitude.

    I did get annual cover from for £417 with world-first also offering at £643. So, I have cover. However these are ridiculously high premiums for a fit person with a chronic, i.e. slow-developing condition. We must, as a group do something about this!.

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