How can cancer affect getting insurance?

Having cancer can affect buying travel insurance. Recent health problems are known as pre-existing conditions. Insurers look at your personal information to work out how likely you are to claim and how much that claim may cost them.

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. Alternatively, they may offer you travel insurance with their usual terms and conditions, or with:

  • a higher premium (the amount you pay for travel insurance)
  • an excess (an amount you pay if you make a claim)
  • a cancer-related exclusion.

A cancer-related exclusion means you won’t be covered for any claims related to your cancer.

The terms and conditions of the policy may also refer to someone else who might cause you to make a claim. This means you need to tell the insurance company if someone else’s health may affect your trip, for example, your partner, relative or friend.

Always check with your provider what you are, and are not, covered for.

How cancer can affect getting travel insurance

Cancer counts as a pre-existing condition when you apply for travel insurance.

Providers typically consider pre-existing conditions to be:

  • any serious condition such as cancer, heart trouble or respiratory problems
  • any conditions you have seen a doctor about in the last year, including minor ones
  • any condition for which you are waiting for test results
  • any condition for which you are waiting for an operation.

If you tell travel insurance providers about any of these that apply to you, they can offer you guidance. If you do not tell them about a pre-existing condition and you then need to make a claim, they may refuse to cover you.

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

What insurance providers may offer

Providers will differ on whether they can insure you and how much it will cost. You may find it particularly difficult to get insured if you are currently having cancer treatment, or if you are terminally ill. This is because there is an increased risk that you might need medical treatment abroad.

If the provider is willing to insure you, they may offer you travel insurance:

  • within their usual terms and conditions
  • with a higher premium, because you have or have had cancer
  • with a higher excess
  • with a cancer-related exclusion.

You may want to apply through an insurance broker if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. Brokers can take your details and then search insurance providers for you.

Cancer-related exclusion

If your travel insurance policy has a cancer-related exclusion, this means you would not be covered for any claims related to your cancer. Whether you are comfortable with this will depend on your situation. If your insurance provider applies an exclusion, you should make sure you understand exactly what you are, and are not, covered for. Always check with the provider if you are unsure.

Getting a letter from your doctor

Some providers will ask for a letter from your doctor that says you are well enough to travel.

It could come from your oncology team or from your GP. In some cases, GPs may charge you for this letter. They may be more likely to charge if the travel insurance company contacts them to ask for a letter, so it is often best to ask your GP yourself. It may 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.

If someone close to you has cancer

You should tell the insurance provider if someone else’s health may affect your trip. 

For example, this could be if your partner, relative or friend has cancer. It could be someone travelling with you or someone at home. This is because there is a risk that you may have to cancel your trip or end it earlier than planned because of their health.

There may be no questions on travel insurance application forms about the health of someone you know. But the terms and conditions of the policy may refer to someone else who might cause you to make a claim. So it is important to read the terms and conditions carefully.

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

If you give all this information to your insurance provider in advance, you may be covered if you need to cancel the trip. This depends on the provider and the policy. Ask the provider as early as possible about this.

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