How can cancer affect getting insurance?

Having cancer can affect buying travel insurance. Insurers look at your personal information to work out how likely you are to claim and how much that claim may cost them. Any health conditions you have at the time you take out an insurance policy or have had in recent years are called pre-existing conditions.

Be open about your health and ask travel insurance providers for their guidance. Depending on your individual circumstances, it is possible that they may not insure you. But there are some companies that specialise in providing travel insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, including cancer. There are some things you may need to think about.

  • Get a letter from your doctor to say that you are well enough to travel.
  • If you need to take medical equipment abroad, make sure your insurance will cover this.
  • Make sure you have all the information that the insurer will need before you contact them.
  • Tell the insurance company if the health of someone close to you may affect your trip, for example your partner, relative or friend.
  • Always check with your provider what you are, and are not, covered for.

Cancer and buying travel insurance

If you are living with cancer, you should check with your doctor or other healthcare professional that you are fit to travel. But even if you are fit to travel, this does not guarantee that you can get insurance to cover your cancer.

When buying travel insurance, you need to check whether the policy will cover claims related to any pre-existing medical conditions.

Some insurance companies might not cover claims related to certain pre-existing medical conditions, such as cancer or heart disease. Other insurers will not cover claims related to any pre-existing conditions.

But there are some companies that specialise in providing travel insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, including cancer. They may offer you a policy that covers these kinds of claims, as long as:

  • you have told the insurer about the pre-existing conditions
  • the conditions have been accepted by the insurer in writing.

You will usually have to pay extra to cover claims related to the cancer. This is because there is an increased chance of you claiming for medical expenses or cancelling your trip.

Your health or prescribed medication may change between the time that you take out the policy and when you book, or leave for, a trip. Some insurers ask that you tell them any new information about your health or tests you have during this time.

If you are affected by cancer, you may feel that medical cover is not important. This is because you might wait until you get back to the UK before getting medical advice or treatment. However, insurance is about covering the unexpected. This includes emergency treatment and getting you fit enough to travel back to the UK.

It can also cover the extra costs of flying you home if you have to travel by air ambulance, or with medical equipment, a medical escort or a carer. A medical escort is a health professional or group of health professionals who will travel with you on a commercial flight home. They are there to provide care and assistance for you if you are unwell.

If you have an annual policy and you are diagnosed with cancer during the period of your cover, you may need to tell your insurer. Check your policy to make sure. This also applies to your family members if there is a risk they may have to cancel a holiday because of your health.

Make sure you know what is and is not covered before you take out a policy, so you know it will meet your needs. If you are not sure, ask the insurer or an insurance broker.


Cancer-related exclusion

If your travel insurance policy has a cancer-related exclusion, you will not be covered for any claims related to the cancer. Make sure you understand exactly what you are and are not covered for. Always check with the insurance provider if you are unsure. You will need to consider the risk of not being covered if you have any cancer-related problems when you are away.


Getting a letter from your doctor

Some providers will ask for a letter from your doctor that says you are well enough to travel. This could come from your cancer team or from your GP. In some cases, GPs may charge you for this letter. GPs may be more likely to charge if the insurance company contacts them to ask for a letter. It is often best to ask your GP yourself. It might save time if you get the letter before contacting insurance providers.


Taking medical equipment abroad

If you need to take any special medical equipment with you on holiday, make sure your insurance will cover this.


Be prepared for questions

Always make sure you have all the information the insurer will need before you contact them.

If your policy says you should tell them about any pre-existing medical conditions, you must answer any question they ask as fully and as accurately as you can. If you do not, your insurer could refuse to pay a claim and could cancel your policy.

Even if you had cancer a long time ago, it is best to let the insurance provider know. This may not necessarily affect the price you pay.


If someone close to you has cancer

You also need to tell your insurer if the health of someone close to you may affect your trip. This could be a family member such as your partner, parent, child or sibling, or a business partner. If someone close to you has cancer, there is a risk your trip may have to end early or be cancelled because of their health.

There may not be questions on the application form about the health of people close to you. But you will have to say that you have read the policy terms and conditions. These may make it clear that claims will not be covered in certain situations. An example of this would be if you, or someone close to you, is receiving or waiting for treatment, or has a terminal condition. Make sure you check your policy.

If you give all this information to your insurer before your trip, you should be covered if you decide to cancel it. Or they may ask you to pay a higher premium to make sure that you are covered if you need to cancel because of the cancer. This depends on the insurer and the policy. Ask the insurer as early as possible about this.

You should also tell the provider if there are any health changes between the time when you took out the insurance and the time you are travelling. This includes any changes in the health of the person with cancer, and in your own health.

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