This week, we're continuing our posts on the theme of travel by looking at travel insurance.
Travel insurance is a topic that frequently comes up on the forum and we know it can cause a lot of worry and frustration for many of you. Planning a holiday or a small trip as something to look forward to can become even more important after your diagnosis, as a way of having a break and focussing on life beyond cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, as many of you have found, a diagnosis of cancer can cause your premium to rise significantly, or for you to be refused insurance all together. This is because when you buy a policy, the insurance company will work out how likely they think you are to claim. The more likely they think a claim is (and the more expensive they think any claim would be), the higher the cost of the policy, and in some circumstances they may not be able to cover you at all.
In this post, we’ll look at getting travel insurance during or after cancer treatment. We’re not insurance experts and can’t recommend companies or products, but we hope this information is helpful as a starting point. You can also find helpful tips and experiences which forum members have shared by searching the posts using the box on the right.
Before applying for travel insurance, it’s helpful to research potential companies that might be able to offer you suitable cover. Read the details of their policies carefully to make sure that they would meet your specific needs. This can avoid the need to contact a lot of different companies and keep repeating the details of your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis, which is time-consuming and can be upsetting. Some companies can be quite blunt in how they ask questions.
Comparison websites can be a useful starting point, but they tend to focus mainly on the price of the policy and not all insurance companies appear on these sites.
Some insurers specialise in or offer policies for people with cancer. You can search online for companies offering this type of cover (for example, search for ‘travel insurance ovarian cancer’), but make sure they’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and display their FCA number.
Some companies that forum members have found willing to offer affordable cover include World First (world-first.co.uk/), Eurotunnel (trips to Europe only) (eurotunnel.com/uk/insurance/), Boots (bootstravelinsurance.com/), The Women’s Institute (for members only) (opentravelinsurance.org.uk/), MIA (miatravelinsurance.co.uk/) and InsuranceWith (insurancewith.com/).
You can also use an insurance broker to help you find the right company and policy for you. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (biba.org.uk/find-insurance) can help you find a broker. Brokers will charge for their services, so again it’s important to research and find a broker who understands the needs of people travelling with a cancer diagnosis.
It’s also possible that you already have some kind of travel insurance cover, for example through your bank, credit card provider or trade union. Although any existing insurance of this kind is unlikely to cover you for claims relating to your cancer, if you contact the provider they may be willing to cover you for a ‘top-up’ charge which might be cheaper than a new policy.
Before applying for insurance, you can contact the company informally first to discuss your circumstances and needs. This can avoid the need to go through the application process and then find that the premium is too high or the company isn’t able to cover you. Some insurance companies will ask whether you have been declined cover by another company, and this is another reason why it can be helpful to make an informal enquiry first in order to avoid being turned down.
When applying for travel insurance, you will be asked about your trip and your medical history. It’s important to answer these questions as fully as you can and to give any further information that would be helpful. For example, the insurance company may not ask directly whether anyone else’s health issues could cause you to come home early, but there could be something about this in the terms and conditions of the policy. This means that the insurance company can make a fully informed decision about what they can offer you. It also helps to avoid a claim being declined because they think they were misinformed or not told about something significant. You may find it helpful to prepare a timeline of your diagnosis and treatment dates so that you have the details to hand rather than having to go away and look them up.
Some insurance companies may want to see a doctor’s letter confirming that you’re medically fit to travel and they may contact your healthcare providers to confirm some points about your medical history.
When the insurance company has got the information they need from you, they can respond in different ways. They can:
• Offer you cover at their usual cost (probably if you completed cancer treatment a long time ago and are not thought to be likely to claim);
• Offer you cover at a higher premium and/or with a larger excess (contribution that you pay towards the cost of any claim);
• Offer you cover with a cancer exclusion (so that you will not be covered for any claim relating to your cancer);
• Decline to cover you at all.
When you’ve had responses from the insurers you’re contacting, you can decide which quote you want to accept. It’s really important to make sure that the cover includes everything you need, such as if you’re travelling with medical equipment or if you might need to return home early because of a family member’s health. It can be very disappointing and upsetting to be declined, and you can try other providers or change your holiday plans.
If you have any tips on travel insurance that other members might find helpful, please share them in the comments below.
Here are some useful websites if you would like to read more about this:
If you have any questions about travel insurance, please do get in touch with us or contact Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00.
Julia (Support Services Officer)