Cancer charity exposes ‘scandal’ of patients being denied travel insurance

·2-min read
Passengers queue to check-in bags in departures at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, west London (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Passengers queue to check-in bags in departures at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, west London (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

A cancer charity has exposed the “scandal” of patients being denied valuable respite on holiday as they are unable to secure affordable travel insurance because of their “misunderstood” illness.

Southampton-based Planets cancer charity has described the situation which leaves some patients unable to enjoy a holiday as a needed break from their treatment as a “scandal”.

The organisation points to one patient being quoted £7,000 for insurance for a two-week trip to Canada and another patient received a quote for £1,000 for a stay in Spain.

Both of these patients have neuroendocrine tumours, known as NETs, which are usually found in the pancreas, bowel or lungs but can also develop in other parts of the body and are slow growing, with many living with stable disease.

Neil Pearce, co-founder of the charity which helps patients with pancreatic, liver, colorectal, abdominal and neuroendocrine cancer, said that other patients have been denied insurance because of their current or previous illness.

He said: “The difficulty for cancer patients in obtaining travel insurance at all or dealing with the inflated premiums is a scandal and something they industry must do something about as it is currently sticking the boot in.

“For many people, the respite and morale boost a holiday away with family or friends brings is invaluable to their life, yet we are in the perverse situation where very little effort is even put in to establish the condition a person is in.”

The Horseshoe falls, part of the Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
The Horseshoe falls, part of the Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Planets has launched a petition calling for the travel insurance industry to review its procedures around access to affordable insurance for cancer patients and establish a model in consultation with cancer bodies and charities.

Mr Pearce said: “I have written letters to insurance companies on behalf of patients in the past and I am sure many other specialists have done the same but it should not be left to a lottery of finding a company who will accept a letter.

“Even then it can make little difference and, as a result, the options are limited.

“We are calling on the industry to look at this issue and find a solution to ensure cancer patients are simply given fair access as opposed to discrimination.”

Mr Pearce said for some patients, such as those with NETs, the likelihood of emergency situations was extremely rare and presents little risk to insurers.

He said: “There is no effort made to understand this as it is currently a ‘one size fits all’ approach where any utterance of the word cancer means a person will either be turned down or charged an extortionate, and often unaffordable, fee.”

To sign the petition visit: https://www.change.org/p/ensure-cancer-patients-are-able-to-access-affordable-travel-insurance

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