Travel insurance if you have cancer

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If you have or have had cancer, you may find it much harder to get travel insurance. In some cases, you may not be able to get affordable cover at all. But there are some companies that offer travel insurance if you have cancer.

Travel insurance if you have cancer

Some of the biggest travel insurance companies seem to take a ‘tick box’ approach to working out what kind of risk you might be if you have or have had cancer. It can mean you’re turned down for insurance, or quoted a prohibitively high price.

However, a number of insurance companies used specialist medical screening services, which means that they ask more relevant questions and can make better decisions about the level of risk you really present.

Problems getting travel insurance if you have cancer

The financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has just published some research it’s carried out into the problems that people with cancer can have getting travel insurance. Its report says that:

  • Charities and consumer groups have found ‘excessively high prices’ and big differences in the prices charged by the mainstream insurance companies compared to specialist providers.
  • There’s little consistency in how insurers assess someone who’s in remission or cancer free, so it’s hard to compare quotes.
  • There’s no single place to get information about specialist providers. There’s also no straightforward way that people who’ve been turned down for travel cover are signposted to brokers or insurers who may be able to arrange insurance.

SAVVY TIP: The FCA plans to get the industry to improve the signposting that’s available and introduce a better system by the spring of 2019.

  • Insurance premium tax (IPT) penalises those who have to pay the most for their travel insurance, as it’s levied at a rate of 20% of the price. The FCA says it’s passed the feedback onto the Treasury.

How to find travel insurance if you have cancer

It is possible to get travel insurance if you have cancer by shopping around on a price comparison site. However, some insurers listed on some price comparison sites are very keen to insure the lowest risk travellers, and less keen to insure those who’ve had cancer. If you’re offered insurance you might find that the policy won’t cover you if you have to claim due to your cancer or a related illness.

However, there are a number of specialist travel insurance brokers and companies that can insure people who have cancer. These offer policies that are designed to be able to insure your pre-existing medical condition – although they don’t promise to be able to insure everyone. Research published by the Financial Conduct Authority shows that around 100 insurance brokers who are members of BIBA (the British Insurance Brokers’ Association) can arrange travel insurance for someone with cancer.

Cancer charities’ websites are a good starting point for information and sometimes for suggestions of travel insurance companies (I’ve added some links to the bottom of the article).

SAVVY TIP: Be aware that the charities aren’t recommending these insurers or guaranteeing that you’ll be able to get insured by them. It’s just that they’re more likely to say yes to you than other companies.

The following brokers are listed on Cancer Research UK’s website:

AllClear Insurance This company is a broker and a provider of travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions (see below).

Insurance Choice: Be aware that this company doesn’t have the best Google reviews (2.4 out of 5 when I checked).

JD Travel Insurance It has one Google review (5*) and no Trustpilot rating but there are positive comments about it on some forums I checked.

Orbis Insurance I couldn’t find any reviews of it online but it’s been recommended by some cancer charity forum members.

PJ Hayman It’s a broker but it also offers its own travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions, called FreeSpirit (see below).

The following insurance companies offer travel insurance if you have or have had cancer. It’s not an exhaustive list as there may be other companies that also insure people with cancer.

SAVVY TIP: Some of these have been recommended by the cancer charity Macmillan’s forum members, but not by the charity itself. Others appear on Cancer Research UK’s website, or are companies that I know offer travel insurance to people with cancer.

AXA PPP Healthcare: If you have private medical cover with AXA PPP, you can take out a travel insurance policy as well.

Boots Travel Insurance: It has a specialist policy for people with pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer. It can cover pre-existing medical conditions as long as you’ve told them about the conditions and they’ve agreed to offer cover.

Eurotunnel: It offers travel insurance that’s tailored to people using the Eurotunnel. It can be combined with European car breakdown cover.

Freedom Travel Insurance: Offers travel insurance for a wide range of types of cancer. It has an upper age limit of 85 for single trip policies and 75 for annual policies.

Free Spirit: Its policies are 5-star rated by ratings company Defaqto. It’s rated 9.3 out of 10 by customers on Trustpilot. There’s no upper age limit on policies.

Insurancewith: It’s rated 4.8 out of 5 on Google and as 9.6 out of 10 on Trustpilot. It was set up in 2007 by Fiona McCrae who worked in the insurance industry but was unable to find travel insurance after she was diagnosed with cancer.

InsureCancer: This company provides travel insurance – including for people who are in the terminal stages of cancer, as long as they are fit to travel.

MIA Travel Insurance: Operates different insurance brands for people with different types of illness or who are at different stages in their illness. For example, Clear2Go can insure people up to the age of 100 including those with a terminal prognosis and those who have secondary cancer. They say

National Federation of Occupational Pensioners: If you join this organisation you’re eligible for discounts off their travel insurance. Both Macmillan and Cancer Research UK forum members have mentioned insurance provided by a partner organisation.

OK2travel: is rated 4.7 out of 5 on review site Feefo. It provides insurance for people with cancer, including those with a terminal prognosis, as long as they are expected to live for at least six months after they return from their trip.

Staysure: is rated 9 out of 10 on Trustpilot. It offers travel insurance for a range of different types of cancer.

Towergate Insurance: covers a range of pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer. It’s rated 4.5 out of 5 on Trustpilot – although quite a few of the reviews don’t relate to travel insurance.

World First: offers insurance that covers a range of different types of cancer. It’s rated 9.4 out of 10 by customers on Trustpilot.

Insurance from your bank

If you have insurance through a bank account that you pay a monthly fee for, you may well find that your policy will insure you for anything that’s not related to your cancer. This isn’t ideal but it may be an option if you’re really struggling to get insurance or you’re happy to take the chance that you won’t have to make a claim that’s related to your cancer. But contact the insurer and tell them about your situation. Don’t assume that you’re insured unless you’ve told them about your illness and you’ve got something in writing from them to say they’re happy to insure you. If you don’t have this, you could find your insurance policy is literally not worth the paper it’s written on.

Make sure you have an EHIC

An EHIC is a European Health Insurance Card and it gives you the right to medical treatment in the European Economic Area (the EU countries plus Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland, on the same basis as someone who lives there.

It doesn’t mean that your treatment will be free, but it is worth having. Take your EHIC even if you have travel insurance. That’s because travel insurers will often not impose an excess if you have an EHIC.

You can find out more about an EHIC, including how to apply for one, in my article: Using your EHIC or European Health Insurance Card.

Useful links:

The website of BIBA, the insurance brokers’ association, has a useful ‘find insurance’ section of its website. You can specify that you want to find insurance if you have cancer and you’re currently getting chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. It’s also available as an app for iPhones or iPads.

Breast Cancer Care has information on travel insurance, including a useful section on travel insurance if you have secondary breast cancer.

Cancer Research UK  has useful information about travel insurance if you have cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support website has a useful section on travel insurance.

Related articles: 

If you’re travelling around the UK or abroad, what discounts can you get as a pensioner?

Ten tips on getting the right travel insurance policy for less

Lost luggage compensation – your rights if your luggage is lost or delayed

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