Cancer and travel insurance, a toxic mix.

As if the complications of a cancer diagnosis weren’t tough enough, it is very difficult to take even a very short break in sunnier climes, without a generally extremely complicated and expensive process of talking to prospective insurers.I used to almost hear the insurer rubbing his hands together when I mentioned cancer.The conversations would take ages. How long had I been ill, what treatment had I received, how long had I been in hospital etc? Once we had gone through the process, it would seem that they plucked a quote out of the sky, which I think they had got confused with the price of my holiday!

I was taking a week in Europe, not a year in war torn Africa.The price of some insurance quotes, was far more, than if I had hired a private jet to come home if I had felt unwell.Unfortunately, cancer patients are yet again, the innocent victims of discrimination. People who really need support, find themselves struggling for fairness, when they need it most.

Fiona Macrae, a very good friend of mine, and a breast cancer survivor, decided to try and improve things for cancer patients in the sector. Having been an insurance broker, and a patient, Fiona has a unique perspective on things, and started her own business Insurancewith to try and help people to overcome the problems that she herself encountered.

Below is a piece written by Fiona,with some helpful tips, when searching for travel insurance.My suggestion would be to speak to Fiona and her team first!

Cancer Travel Insurance

Travel insurance, for most people is a quick search of the internet, and then choosing from the many providers all willing to offer you cover at increasingly competitive prices.  However once you have been diagnosed with cancer, travel insurance that will cover you at an affordable premium is very elusive. 
Going through treatment for cancer is tough and many people think about and plan holidays during treatment, a sort of reward at the end, a complete break well away from the familiar hospital routine.  And I was no different,  I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and when my oncologist suggested I plan a holiday between finishing chemotherapy and before I had my surgery, I jumped at the chance, just a short break in the sun she suggested, recharge your batteries, it will give you something to focus on.  I did deserve a holiday, and my poor husband did too, not only was he looking after me for 6 months while I had chemotherapy, he was also the main carer of our then, 5 month only baby as well.  The thought of a break away from everything that reminded me I had cancer was  a tremendous boost, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the trouble I would have finding travel insurance to cover me for cancer when I was away.  The main problem was I hadn’t actually had the cancer surgically removed, I had only had the chemotherapy to shrink the tumour, and once I had got my strength back from the chemotherapy I would then have the tumour removed, but as the “cancer” was still inside me no one would cover me.  I later found out that because I hadn’t had my tumour removed did not mean I was a higher risk, but it as it was a relatively new way to treat breast cancer they didn’t know how to rate it.  
I had previously (before I had my baby), been an insurance broker, so I could not understand why I was refused cover, yes I accepted that my premium would be higher, but no cover at all, just ludicrous! This was the tipping point for me and why I decided to start Insurancewith, to offer people with cancer affordable travel insurance cover, and to also have the ability to screen people taking into account all the different thinking’s and breakthroughs  in cancer treatment.  Insurancewith was launched in March 2010 the rest, as they say is history.

Below are some of my tips and advice for obtaining travel insurance after a cancer diagnosis:

·         First and foremost always agree your travel plans with your treating Doctor, if you travel without your Doctors agreement you will invalidate your travel insurance policy
·         Travel insurance with cancer cover is available at affordable premiums, but use a specialist provider as they are able to rate the risk correctly and are generally cheaper than the standard travel insurance providers
·         Comparison sites will not be able to offer you a premium bespoke to your actual risk, so they will generally be more expensive
·         Choose your destination carefully; remember a remote island probably won’t have suitable medical facilities should you fall ill. 
·         The cost of health care in the USA and Canada can mean that the travel insurance premiums for those areas are expensive.

Check out an article that Fiona did recently for theDaily Express

I would like to thank Fiona and her team for their contribution to this blog. This is yet another  fantastic example of someone who’s life was dramatically changed by cancer, and was able to help more people through her personal experience.It is a pleasure to know and work with you!


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