As a long term cancer patient myself, I have found so much discrimination against me. From banks to employers and insurance, particularly travel insurance! I used to travel for a living and it was something I wanted to continue, when I was well enough.Like everything connected with cancer, finding travel insurance is not at all straight forward. So I would like to talk about some of the things I have learned, which may help you to find clarity in this particular minefield.
How do you choose your policy? Is it based on price, through a comparison website or recommendation? Do you wish to include your cancer or remove all pre-existing conditions? What a drama you might think, and I agree totally! Many of us are completely priced out of travelling by some insurance companies. Some people then just buy basic cover which is totally useless should anything complex arise. Here is just one example of the madness that you may have even encountered yourself when searching around for a quote. Good travel insurance is vital for peace of mind when you have cancer and I should know!
There is an answer to this issue but of course the industry doesn’t want you to know. It is called Protectif, a medical risk rating tool that has been around since 2006. Here is a quote from them: “Having insured millions of people travelling all over the world, suffering with an enormous range of medical conditions we knew that some insurers perceive certain medical conditions to be a higher risk than they actually are from a travel perspective. The actual travel risks of someone travelling with say a Metastatic Cancer can in many cases be less than someone who travels with high blood pressure.” Common sense at last, I hear you say!
My work is truly international now, and that involves me travelling far and wide. Recently I went to America for 10 days and I got my policy from InsuranceWith a company who do use this tool, and the price was £178 including my cancer and its issues completely covered. Now I don’t shop anywhere else!
Wherever we go we are blinded by advertising. Posters as we travel, advertising on our phones, and even when we get home, watching our favourite shows. This is the most effective form of advertising, and corporations spend millions to persuade us about their brands. Many of us are also lazy, when it comes to choosing, and tend to select what we see first on the Internet or on our television. But like energy and mobile phone contracts, the devil is in the detail. These bamboozling deals are there for a reason. To ensure that many are spending more than they need to. It is exactly the same with travel insurance.
Are these companies here to help the consumer? Of course not, they are there to make money. That is why it is so important to choose carefully, taking time to understand what is best for you. Eighty percent of travel insurance brands don’t use Protectif and you won’t find it on comparison websites, which is why you have to look carefully for one that does. If you don’t see a logo on the site, ask them if they use this tool. Why are we not told things like this from charities etc? Like most advertising these companies get drowned out by the big boys. Helping people with difficult health conditions is complex work and not a great profit maker, but we need help not discrimination, to allow us to get a quality of life back after cancer.
I was interested to find out more about how the tool helped customers and I was told, “For consumers, because we have understood the risk, have worked with medical charities to refine how questions are written, relevancy of questions and available answers and the depth of knowledge demonstrated through the tool, consumers are more confident with, not only the outcome, but also the fact that the tool was in depth enough to have fully understood their particular condition and circumstance.”
My advice to others affected by cancer is to be more discerning with your choices. Don’t take the first quote, and generally any company with yes or no answers to health questions is not right for you. It is possible to find good and affordable health cover for travel, but it might take a lot of searching! Get on with living your life and don’t be thwarted by the sharks in that industry!
Personally I am delighted to see the FCA getting involved to stop this discrimination against people with complex health needs and I will certainly look forward to reading their conclusions after a year of feedback from insurance providers. Will this be yet another toothless report or something that makes real change in an industry fraught with consumer confusion? The people affected by cancer are waiting!!