Everyone needs some time to relax and unwind, and if you’ve been through cancer treatment a holiday could be just what the doctor ordered. However, when it comes to buying travel insurance, finding the right policy can sometimes be more challenging if you have a cancer diagnosis.
Here’s Live Better With’s guide to travel insurance and cancer…
Travel insurance and medical conditions
Travel insurance offers you financial protection if anything should happen when you’re away on holiday. As with other forms of insurance, travel insurance is based on risk, or how likely something is to happen. But how does cancer affect travel insurance?
If you have cancer or another pre-existing medical condition, many insurers consider that there is an increased risk of cancellation, or of you needing to seek medical treatment abroad, which can be very expensive. Some companies may refuse to offer insurance cover on this basis. However, depending on your individual circumstances, different companies will handle the risk differently.
Assessing the risk
When you apply for travel insurance, the insurance company will normally ask you a series of questions, including your age, where you are going and for how long, what activities you are planning, and whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
It’s important to be open about any health issues, including whether you have, or have had, cancer. Failure to do so could mean that the insurance company refuses to pay out if you need to make a claim.
Your insurance company may also require a doctor’s note stating that you are safe to travel. There may be a small fee for this, and it’s worth getting this sorted ahead of time:
“If you’re planning on going on holiday, ask for a letter from your Doctor confirming you’re fit to travel a couple of months in advance because it can take them a while to get the letter to you and you’ll need it for travelling.” – Lucy, Live Better With community member
Dealing with medical questions
You may be asked some quite detailed medical screening questions relating to your cancer diagnosis, the stage and grade of illness, your treatment and the prognosis, or outlook. It can sometimes be difficult to answer a lot of questions about your health – many people find that writing down some key information beforehand can help with this.
The insurance company will use the information you provide to decide whether, and under what conditions, they will offer cover. Even if you have recovered from your cancer, insurance companies can have quite different approaches, with some offering cover after 3 months of remission and others only after 3, 5 or even 10 years.
Excesses and exclusions
The kind of insurance cover you are offered, and the price you have to pay, will depend on your individual circumstances, the type and stage of your cancer, and the insurance company’s own policies.
Sometimes an insurance company may offer cover, but with certain conditions attached. For example, there may be a higher ‘excess’ (the amount you pay towards a claim, if you need to make one). Or they may apply an ‘exclusion’ which means that you are not covered for anything that happens that’s related to your cancer while you’re away.
If you’re looking for more comprehensive cover, it might be worth contacting a firm that specialises in pre-existing medical conditions. The premium may be higher, but they could offer you cover that’s more tailored to your needs and gives you greater peace of mind.
Reading the small print
It’s very important to read the terms and conditions of your policy, and to make sure you understand any exclusions that apply, so you know exactly what you are covered for. If you’re in any doubt, it’s worth contacting your provider.
If you need to take any specialist medication or equipment with you relating to your condition, you should also check that these will be covered by your policy.
Whether or not you have a condition yourself, it’s worth noting that the terms and conditions may require you to provide information about anybody who has a relevant medical condition which could affect your travel plans, such as a relative, partner or friend (whether or not they’re travelling with you). You should also keep your insurer up-to-date with any changes in anyone’s health conditions prior to making a trip.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you’re a European citizen travelling within the European Economic Area, an EHIC offers access to free or reduced rate emergency health treatment in participating countries. However, an EHIC doesn’t offer the same kind of cover as a travel insurance policy, such as bringing you home in an emergency, so it’s sensible to have both in place.
Four tips for finding the right travel insurance when you have cancer
1) Consider shopping around – it can help to try a range of providers. Comparison websites can be a helpful way of getting together some quotes, but not all insurance companies use comparison websites, and it’s essential to check the exact details of the cover on offer from each company, so you can see if it suits your needs.
2) Check with your bank – sometimes bank or credit card companies include travel insurance for account holders, so it’s worth checking whether you may already have some level of cover. Again, you should read the terms and conditions to make sure you have the right cover, and ensure that the provider is made aware of any medical conditions.
3) Use a broker – an insurance broker can search a number of insurance providers on your behalf. Contact the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) on 0370 950 1790 for more assistance.
4) Use a specialist cancer travel insurance company – Live Better With have teamed up with International Travel and Healthcare Limited (ITHC), a specialist travel insurance provider which provides bespoke medical screening for individuals with a pre-existing medical condition, offering you cover that’s right for your needs. You can find out more here.
Finding travel insurance can be more difficult when you have cancer, and it’s important to plan ahead and weigh up the available options. Having the right insurance policy will give you added peace of mind, so you can relax and enjoy yourself. We hope you have a great time away!
Read the Live Better With guide to cancer and going on holiday here. And if you’re looking to go away, or if you have any holiday tips to share, why not join our Community Forum?