Travelling after a cancer diagnosis can become a little trickier than before
There are certain things that need to be taken into consideration that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought about prior to diagnosis. Along with treatment dates, medical care abroad and doctor’s permissions, your travel insurance cover should be a high priority. With some companies charging extortionate amounts, or not providing cover at all, the quotation phase can be disheartening, but with a few simple tips finding the right policy for your needs a lot easier.
I have worked in the insurance industry for over 15 years
I now head up consumer awareness initiative at Travel Insurance Explained (TIE). Following my own diagnosis of Breast Cancer, a number of years ago, I found it difficult to find a suitable travel insurance policy and thus founded Insurancewith – a specialist, innovative medical travel insurer.
Now, I spend my time tackling sign-posting within the insurance industry and working alongside governing bodies and charities to ensure everyone, no matter the diagnosis, can enjoy their much-needed break. My input into the guide gives first-hand experience and tips to finding the right travel insurance – and the considerations needed – following a cancer diagnosis.
Understanding travel insurance following a cancer diagnosis
When you look for a travel insurance policy be prepared for high prices or rejected quotes. Not all travel insurers are suited to people with medical conditions so you will find that specialist medical travel insurers will be able to offer you a fairer price. It may be best to speak with the insurer over the phone rather than completing a quote online, that way you can ensure they are offering you the cover you need and they can answer any questions you may have about the policy.
When speaking with the travel insurer you will need to complete a medical declaration, this may be lengthy but it is only so the insurer can assess your condition and how it affects you before assessing the risk. All cancers are different and this ensures that you are not being unfairly assessed just because of your diagnosis. It is important to note that your travel insurance will not cover you if you have been advised to not travel by a medical professional.
What to look for in a travel insurance policy
You may be tempted to sway towards this cheapest policy but it is important to remember that this may not be the best option for you. Spend some time looking into what the policy will cover you to ensure cover, and the amount provided in the event of a claim is suitable for your needs. Here’s a couple of things to look out for:
- Repatriation Cover – this will cover any reasonable expenses needed to get you back home following a medical emergency and will be arranged by your travel insurer.
- Medical expenses – if you need any emergency medical treatment whilst on holiday, this will cover the associated costs.
- Additional travel expenses – if you need to stay in the country for longer than planned following a medical emergency, this will cover any reasonable costs for accommodation and transport home.
It is worth bearing in mind that every travel insurance policy will have different levels of cover, and the cheaper the policy the lower the cover. So, it may be best to pay a few pounds more now rather than having to pay out thousands later.
Flying after a cancer diagnosis
When deciding on a destination, consider how you would get there as some modes of transport may not be suitable. For example, if you have lung cancer it may not be advisable to fly as the change in air pressure and reduced oxygen levels could cause complications. Similarly, following a bone marrow transplant it is advised to wait a few months before travelling due to the increased risk of infection. However, airlines, cruise lines and railway companies are evolving to become better equipped with medical equipment so it is worth speaking with the transport company when planning your trip to ensure they can cater for your needs.
Checklist for planning a trip following a cancer diagnosis
- Check that your treating doctor or consultant is happy with your travel plans; this includes your destination, mode of transport and the duration of your trip.
- Have a few destinations in mind. Depending on the length of time since diagnosis and the treatment you have undergone, some travel insurance companies may not be able to offer cover for long-haul trips but would instead cover a trip closer to home.
- Speaking of travel insurers, always research travel insurance providers as there are specialist insurers who offer specialist cover for medical conditions – and not all of them can be found on comparison sites.
- Once you have found a travel insurer make sure you check the cover levels on the policy and that they are suitable for your needs. it is also worth checking the policy and medical excess so there are no nasty surprises if you need to make a claim.
- When packing for your trip, ensure you take enough medication (if applicable) in case you are delayed. Be sure to also check that your prescription medication is legal in the country you are travelling to as some medication that is available on prescription in your country may be banned in another country.
- Following on from the above, make sure you have a copy of your prescription and a doctor’s note stating the reason you have been given the medication to hand when passing through customs.
- Find out where the closest pharmacy and public hospital is in your chosen location, as most travel insurers will not cover treatment in private clinics.
- Write down your policy reference number, the travel insurance contact number and the emergency assistance line and store it in your phone and/or wallet. You may also want to take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, but this isn’t compulsory.
Advice for when abroad
Remember to take it easy, this is your chance to relax and unwind and enjoy your holiday. That said, if you do wish to participate in activities always ensure your doctor is happy for you to do so and double check with your travel insurer. Although some activities are covered as standard as part of the travel insurance policy, those that are a little riskier may require additional cover.
Also, if you have recently had treatment be sure to speak to your doctor about any dos and don’ts before you travel. For example, if you are travelling shortly after radiotherapy treatment or have had lymph nodes removed you may be advised to stay out of the sun and stick to shaded areas.
Fiona Macrae has worked in the insurance industry for over 15 years and now heads up consumer awareness initiative, TIE. Following her own diagnosis of Breast Cancer, a number of years ago, she herself found it difficult to find a suitable travel insurance policy and thus founded Insurancewith – a specialist, innovative medical travel insurer. Now, Fiona spends her time tackling sign-posting within the insurance industry and working alongside governing bodies and charities to ensure everyone, no matter the diagnosis, can enjoy their much-needed break