Travel insurance for cancer patients

·7-min read
 (Unsplash)
(Unsplash)

Travel insurance and coronavirus

When buying travel insurance, check whether the policy provides cancellation cover that includes coronavirus risks, including if you fall ill or need to isolate before you travel. You should also have cover in case you fall ill (including with Covid) while you are away. Read the policy documents and check levels of cover with the insurer if you are not sure what protection is provided.

If you have or have had cancer, taking out travel insurance can be a challenge.

But it’s an essential for any holiday as it will protect you financially against a number of things that could go wrong, including lost possessions or medical emergencies.

Here we take a look at the types of policy available for cancer patients, how to find the best cancer travel insurance policy for you, and answer some common questions.

Will travel insurance cover me if I have cancer?

Will travel insurance cover me if I have cancer?

If you have or have had cancer, you may find that the prices you are quoted for travel insurance are high, and that some companies won’t offer you insurance at all.

This is because insurers see cancer patients as more likely to make a claim and, therefore, a higher risk. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), travel insurers pay out more on medical expenses than any other type of claim.

However, there are policies available for people with pre-existing conditions such as cancer and, according to Cancer Research UK, finding travel insurance is getting easier, with some companies looking at individual cases rather than automatically refusing everyone who has had cancer.

What type of travel insurance can I get as a cancer patient?

Some mainstream insurers may offer travel insurance for cancer patients, but will exclude any claims relating to your cancer. This means, should you need any treatment to do with your cancer while on holiday, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

There are a number of specialist policies available, though, with companies willing to cover claims relating to cancer too.

So, it’s important to shop around when looking for your travel insurance to find a policy you feel comfortable with.

You may also find it easier, and cheaper, to take out a single-trip policy rather than an annual one as a cancer patient, as insurers will know exactly where you are going and for how long.

What types of cancer do I need to disclose?

When taking out a travel insurance policy, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your health and medical history. It’s essential that you answer these questions honestly and in full, even if it pushes the price of your insurance up.

If you are found to have been dishonest or withheld information, your travel insurance could be invalid and any claim you make might not be paid.

Prepare yourself for a number of questions about your cancer including its type, where it started and whether it spread, any treatment you are having or have had, the grade of your cancer, and any follow-up care you are having.

Talk to your doctor or specialist about anything you are unsure of before you take a policy out. You may, as an example, need to give dates of treatment you’ve had.

If you’ve previously had cancer and have recovered, you should still disclose it. And you should disclose any other medical conditions too.

What affects the price of travel insurance for cancer patients?

A number of factors can affect the premium you are quoted. These can include the type of cancer you have, whether and when you have finished treatment for cancer, and, if you’re cancer-free, how long this has been the case.

The destination you are travelling to will also play a part in the price you are quoted, with policies covering the USA, as an example, generally being the most expensive due to the high cost of medical treatment there.

According to Cancer Research UK, if you have incurable cancer, particularly if it has spread, you may not be able to get travel insurance for the USA at all.

Other factors that could affect the prices you are quoted include your age, what activities you plan to take part in on holiday, and the ‘excess’ on your policy (the ‘excess’ is the amount that will be deducted from the value of any pay-out you receive if you make a claim).

I’ve recovered from cancer - do I still need a specialist policy?

Even if you are cancer-free, whether mainstream insurers will offer you a policy will depend on each company’s individual approach.

Some will want you to have been cancer-free for months, others years, so always be honest. You may also need a doctor’s certificate to prove that you no longer have cancer.

I have terminal cancer - will I be able to get a policy?

Some companies will not insure you if you have terminal cancer while others may impose certain terms and conditions, such as having a doctor’s note saying you are fit to fly or that your prognosis is not less than six months from your return travel date.

Some policies may also have exclusions regarding your medical cover, so always shop around to find the best policy for your needs and read terms and conditions carefully.

I’ve already got travel insurance – do I need to declare a cancer diagnosis?

I’ve already got travel insurance - do I need to declare a cancer diagnosis?

If you have an annual policy and are diagnosed with cancer, you may need to tell your insurer so check the terms and conditions of your policy or call your insurer if you have questions. If your insurer knows about your cancer but something changes with your condition or medication, you may need to tell your insurer too – so again, double check.

What will travel insurance cover me for?

A comprehensive travel insurance policy can cover you financially for a number of things that could go wrong while you’re away including:

  • personal liability and legal expenses.

Will I need a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)?

If you are travelling to Europe, it’s recommended that you apply for a GHIC to take on your trip. This will give you access to necessary, state-provided healthcare in EU countries on the same terms as a local – this may be free or at a reduced rate.

If you have an existing EHIC, you can continue to use it until it expires.

Following the UK’s Brexit deal, neither the new GHIC or existing EHICs now extend to countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) but outside the EU – so, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are no longer included.

‘Necessary healthcare’ is healthcare which becomes essential during your holiday and you cannot reasonably wait until you’re back in the UK to get it. It can include things like emergency treatment and visits to A&E as well as treatment for long-term and pre-existing conditions.

Some insurers may insist that you have a GHIC (or EHIC) for a policy to be valid.

However, it’s important to remember that GHICs are not a replacement for travel insurance as they won’t cover all medical costs such as private treatment or medical repatriation back to the UK. And they won’t cover the other elements that travel insurance will, such as lost luggage or cancellation.

How can I keep the cost of my travel insurance down if I’m a cancer patient?

It can be tempting to take out the cheapest travel insurance policy you find when prices are high, but this may not be the best value for money for you if it doesn’t give you the cover you need.

To find the best-value cancer travel insurance for you, it’s worth comparing a number of policies before committing and using a specialist travel insurance company if mainstream ones don’t offer the levels of cover you’d like.

Is there anything else to consider?

It’s wise to get advice from your doctor before you book travel abroad. Your insurer may want to see written confirmation that you are well enough to travel or you might need a ‘fit to fly’ letter – sort these out well in advance of your trip. Your doctor can also advise about anything you should be aware of as a result of treatment, such as sensitivity to the sun.

If you need to take medical equipment away with you, make sure this is covered by a policy. As far as medication is concerned, it’s worth taking a few days’ extra supply in case of travel disruption. Also take a doctor’s note plus your prescription in case you need to show it to security officials or a pharmacist.

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