Getting tired of explaining myself

I was diagnosed 2 years ago and consider myself to have done pretty well at staying calm about cancer and having to deal with things related to my cancer. But I have to say I'm feeling a bit wound up after trying to organise travel insurance.

I had a lengthy conversation with someone from the insurance company last week about how many 'places' my tumours affected. I listed them based on my diagnosis letter but was told I had to give a number and should ask for that from my medical team. So I called the medical team and they agreed that it was an unfair question but ploughed through and helped me with it.

Now I've rang back and explained to the insurance company why the question was unfair and difficult to answer. We've just had a discussion with me asking them to clarify what they mean by certain terms such 'affect', 'spread', 'structure'. Apparently they consider two ovaries to be one organ (though my medical team say two). So that level of discussion.

Now, I'm pretty good at detaching myself from things and was able to get through the call but quite frankly having to talk about my body like that is no fun, and dare I say, a little humiliating. I've just had to talk through the technical aspects of whether the ovarian tumour touching my bladder was affecting it or not. They even changed their mind part way through when I clarified with them that the tumour was not in the bladder, just touching the outside of it. I also had to explain what metastatic meant in terms of stage 3 ovarian cancer as the questions she was asking seemed to suggest an assumption that it had got into the lymph nodes and gone into other organs.

After all the technicalities of deciding which bit of the tumour was touching what I ended up with the default answer of 'more than 3'. I couldn't believe it. I told them last week that it would be more than 3, but was told I had to have a specific number.

Just seriously. I had to point out to the lady on the phone that we were talking about my body and it was a bit affecting. She said 'oh I know'. Errm I don't think you do actually love. If you did you'd have accepted my answer of 'more than 3' last week and not subjected me to the level of humiliation I've just gone through.


29 Replies

  • How disgraceful. As if we don't have enough to put up with. Xxx

  • I'm really sorry that you had to go through that. I hope you did get the insurance in the end?

    Hope you are more relaxed now and can start to look forward to your holiday....


  • Fraid not. They've "referred it to the underwriters who may have more questions and will ring in 2-5 days".


  • Oh, well let's hope they say yes. I am hoping to go to the states in the summer and have to go through this after my op. Am worried they won't agree. Anyway hope it works out. I'd like to know for selfish reasons as well as wanting to support a fellow traveller so if you can do message me.

    Take care, Netti.

  • Hi Netti

    Another call with lots of detail but I got a reasonable quote for Canada from Insurancewith. So worth a try for your trip to the US

  • Thanks Katfish. Scuse late reply as been in hospital. Glad you got it! How long until you go? I ask because the timing seems a big factor when getting this sort of unsurance. I promise the interrogation will cease after that, honest.


  • No worries. Ask whatever you want.

    In under two months. I wasn't given a time limit by InsuranceWith, but I was told it had to be within two months by another company (who quoted me £1900, so no thanks anyway!!).

    After all the initial stuff I did find InsuranceWith quite helpful. You've just got be prepared for the detail they go into. You could explain to them and ask them for a quote in principal. It would expire after 14 days, but if you can assume that all things will be equal in a few months then at least you'll know it's possible to get a quote and roughly how much it could be. Then you can factor it into your holiday budget.

    My final quote was £140 which included winter sports and metastatic cancer. So don't be put off by some of the quotes you get from other companies that are in the thousands!!!

  • Hope all is ok and you're out of hospital.


  • Yes out of hospital but need to "open my bowels" . Good grief. Still, keep smiling and look forward to enjoying your holiday.

    N x

  • That's awful you should not have to go through your medical history in so much detail more than three should be sufficient... not only is it degrading humiliating it's upsetting too...I find dealing with companies taking about cancer is awful for want of a better word... I have been appalled by some of the things I've been asked ... don't get me wrong I don't mind talking about my cancer as I want to raise awareness but I don't want to feel humiliated and sadly it's happened in more than one occasion and it does make you angry 😡 hope you get sorted soon stay strong and fight your corner 💪🏻

  • Eek. I have to sort out insurance to go to Germany in February. Better start thinking about it now 🤔

  • Which company was that with, Katfish? What a demeaning palaver.

    I used 'Insurance With' and did it all online. They ask really comprehensive questions and I paid around £40 for a week in Lanzarote.

  • It is with 'InsuranceWith'. I did it online but found some of the questions they asked didn't have an option for my responses. So I had to ring them. Turns out I did a better job when I tried to do it online, but that quote has disappeared and I now have to stick with this one that is being done over the phone.

    I remembered the question from doing it online about how many 'places' were affected. I remembered that the options were 1, 2, 3 or more. Hence I initially said '3 or more' when they asked. It then descended into chaos as they said I had to give a number. I argued that if the option was '3 or more' then the number didn't matter after 3. But they refused to go ahead until I gave them a number.

    Of all the companies I've spoken to so far they have asked the most comprehensive questions. But I've also been given ridiculous quotes by other companies. I'm clinging on to this one because the original online quote was acceptable and I'm hoping that my original interpretation of the questions was correct.

    The problem seems to come from their questions having certain assumptions attached to them. They seem to assume that metastatic cancer will involve spread to the inside of an organ. However, metastatic ovarian cancer is not necessarily like that. I reconfirmed my understanding of it with the medical team because of the questions I was being asked. There are various other questions such as what medication am I taking. They've asked that question every way they possibly can, but there's only so many ways you can say 'none' surely!!!

    Shellygirl - that sums it up I think. I too don't mind talking about cancer. I've been honest with anyone who asks about it and they're welcome to ask me any question they want. I really don't mind. But there was just something about this conversation that really irked me. It was so cold. I've had a technical job in the past so I can talk at length about detailed technical things. That's why I was able to detach from it and count up the organs. But afterwards I thought 'blimey that was cold' to talk about my body as if it's a machine and to work out which bits have been affected by an oil spill or some such.

    Lynne65 - my understanding is that for trips to Europe it is a lot easier to get travel insurance. So don't worry too much. Of the companies that are recommended on these forums I think you should find something ok.

    Goldengourd - this is for Canada so I'll let you know if I get something acceptable. Some of the other specialist insurers won't cover for USA and Canada because of their approach to healthcare apparently.

  • Oh what a nightmare. I spoke to someone on the phone because I was originally trying to get a quote before I finished chemo for a holiday 4 weeks later. The lady I spoke to was really helpful and recommended I organised the insurance once I was 3 weeks clear. It was straightforward after that.

  • Thanks for this reply and fingers crossed. I came across a company called Insurecancer. They specialise in advanced cancer cover including USA and Canada so if you don't have luck with the current lot maybe try them... Fingers still crossed for you.


  • Hello Katfish ..

    This was my experience too. I rang four insurance companies, including InsureWith, and the questions went on and on. With all four firms, I got 'We won't be going ahead at this present time' or something similar. In the end, I decided to stay in Europe near a teaching hospital where I could use the European Health Card and where there were many flights home. Xx

  • You have certainly opened my eyes to medical travel insurance. I have never had to think of it, because plans to travel outside the US are pretty much fantasy at any point. But you have me curious enough to at least investigate if my Govt sponsored insurance is approved in, let's say, Canada.

    I hope the issue is resolved and you can have a worry free vacation!

  • moomoo65, if you live in US and are on medicare you can buy a medicare supplement, plan "F", that insures you for travel anywhere in the world.

  • Thank you! I will check it out!

  • I called a company called Insureandgo. They were very helpful. Unfortunately I was waiting on results of a scan as my ca 125 was raised. They explained that they would have insured me if I was only having routine follow up appointments but as I was waiting for results they would not be able to. I just had my European health card and made sure I had money for a flight home, although didn't need it.

  • I got insurance to fly to the USA from the U.K. when I was only 8 months in remission in 2014. the questions they asked were really apt and knowledgeable. I was lucky to only be stage 1 so don't know if that had any bearing on it but it was really easy. The company was ' Insurancewith'. They were so helpful we are using them again next year on a return trip to New York . I don't know if your intended destination has any bearing on it but they were really good. Their contact number from the UK is 02038283875. Good luck and hope you have a fabulous holiday ❤️Xx

  • I've been recommended a company called MIA. I haven't spoken to them yet about my upcoming skiing holiday (ever the optimist!), but their website has some interesting stuff explaining how decisions are made about who and where they cover. I hope you get the cover you need and have a great holiday.

  • Have you tried Mia Health Insurance? It was recommended to me on this site and I used it last year. They are very courteous and know exactly what they are talking about and the premiums are realistic. I would give them a call.

    Lynne x

  • Have you tried all clear . .i couldn't have had a more helpful lady . Would recommend them . Diagnosis of ovarian cancer enough detail . I hope you enjoy your holiday x

  • I find something uniquely upsetting about talking to insurance companies so can sympathise with you.

    Long distance trips are the worst, I think. But my experience with MIA (though I've never had to claim) has been pretty good. As my condition develops I just bring them up to date with the latest fun and games.

    Good luck.

  • Hi. My heart goes out to you I had a very similar experience and ended up in tears. Please try Eurotunnel insurance, only need to know that your not terminally I'll. And your Dr says your fit to travel. Not expensive. Number given to me via mcmillan. good luck

  • Hi all

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Alifit - skiing is not an issue. It just depends where you go. I want to go to Canada and I've been told its their approach to healthcare driven by liability that's the issue. Doesnt explain the very detailed questions about me though. But if you're in the UK and going to Europe skiing I'm told its a lot easier to get insurance. I skied in Canada last year but declared cancer and excluded it from cover. Was since advised this is risky as insurance companies will look for any reason to tie anything to the cancer. So thought I'd cover it this time.

    MIA, Allclear, freespirit - prohibitively expensive, i.e. Costs more than the holiday.

    Eurotunnel - not tried. Assumed the name meant they do European travel only. Could try them for nothing I suppose.

  • How appalling. I got travel insurance on recommendation from one odour lovely ladies and had none of what you describe, it was very reasonable too and I had a fantastic time meeting m new baby great nephew. Can give you details if you need them, disgraceful behaviour xxxx

  • Thanks everyone. Got a reasonable quote with Insurancewith. Just the questions you have to go through to get there though. Phew

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