Travel Insurance for People with Advanced Cancer

Travel insurance is important for all travellers, and is designed to compensate you for things that may go wrong whilst you are away, typically loss of luggage and personal belongings, theft, cancellation and, most importantly, medical expenses. If you do not have medical expenses cover, the cost to you could be huge if you need medical treatment in another country or need to be flown home.

It can be difficult to get travel insurance if you have advanced cancer because understandably, insurance companies think that you are more likely to need treatment whilst abroad and though they may offer insurance, the premiums can be prohibitive. Insurance for travel to Europe tends to be the cheapest, whilst the most expensive are the USA, Canada and the Caribbean where healthcare costs are high.

Living life to the full

When given the news that cancer has reached an incurable stage, many people will reassess what is important in their lives and for some, holidays and fulfilling a desire to visit areas of interest in the world become all important. Foreign travel will appear on many “bucket lists”, as people seek to make the most of their remaining lives, often raising money for charity as they do so. New experiences and memories can make all the difference to families at such an otherwise difficult time.

Finding an insurance company

You may find that travel insurance offered by high street agents is prohibitively high so you may wish to get quotes from those companies that specialise in travel insurance for people with medical conditions including cancer. The following companies do not usually feature on price comparison websites but have been suggested by people with advanced breast cancer who have found them helpful - there may be others offering comparable quotes if you shop around. An insurance broker may do the groundwork for you.

Insure Pink

Tel - 0800 022 3213


Tel – 0845 230 7159

Eurotunnel Insurance

Tel – 0844 3353535

Freedom Insurance

Tel – 01223 446 914

Good to Go Insurance

Tel – 0844 334 0160

AllClear Insurance Services

Tel – 0845 250 5350

Age UK Travel Insurance

Tel – 0800 085 3741

InsureCancer (Medi TravelCover Limited)

Tel - 01252 780190

It’s So Easy Travel Insurance

Tel – 0844 357 1315

J.D. Travel Insurance Consultants

Tel – 0844 247 4749

Orbis Insurance Services

Tel - 01424 215 315

Travel Insured (part of Manor Insurance)

Tel – 0800 027 6171


0845 647 2777

The British Brokers Association (BIBA)

Tel - 0370 950 1790

What you need to tell insurance companies

You are required to disclose fully any information about pre-existing conditions. If you do not provide all the information and try to make a claim, the company may refuse to pay out due to being misinformed. You will be asked many questions about the stage and grade of your illness along with any ongoing treatments and prognosis and be asked to provide a letter from your doctor confirming that you are fit to travel. If you have a terminal illness or do not have a doctor’s letter saying you are fit to travel, then you may struggle to find a company to insure you. Some companies may provide cover with an increased premium or excess or only give you cover for other illness or accidents that are unrelated to your cancer.

Incurable cancer/Terminal illness

This is a difficult and emotive subject which can cause great problems when trying to obtain travel insurance as most insurance companies (including those providing life insurance cover) are very specific in their terms and conditions regarding the definition of “terminal”.

“Terminal illness is a disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient within a short period of time. This term is more commonly used for progressive diseases such as cancer or advanced heart disease than for trauma.”

Some doctors prefer not to describe a patient with advanced cancer as “terminal” until they have no more treatment options, whilst others will say that the illness is terminal but not at the end stage whilst treatment is ongoing. Other doctors are far more blunt and quote a median survival time of between 18 months and 3 years once diagnosed with incurable cancer.

Insurance companies tend to use 6 –12 months as the expected survival time for a person considered to have a terminal prognosis, even though doctors and patients know that this is an arbitrary figure since nobody can predict with any accuracy how long an individual will survive. Problems may arise for patients who have been given form DS1500 in order to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits which states that life expectancy is considered to be less than six months. Patients dealing with the trauma of a life-limiting disease often prefer to believe they are living with cancer rather than dying from it, so will understandably wish to get the most out of their remaining lives, without having to “prove” whether or not they are “terminal”.

Travelling without cover for cancer-related illness

Many people will do this and hope that they do not become ill or suffer an accident whilst abroad. It is worth remembering that whilst a condition may not seem directly related to cancer, the disease and drugs used to treat and control side-effects can make individuals more susceptible to infections, blood clots and falls which may then be attributed to your cancer diagnosis and nullify any subsequent claim.

You should always check exactly what your policy will cover you for and have a contingency plan should you become ill and need to get back to the UK quickly.

Choosing your destination

You are advised to choose your destination wisely, taking into account the length of flight and standard of healthcare in the country you are visiting. You may have to accept that there are some countries which are just not suitable for you to visit. You may be unable to receive certain vaccines if your immune system is compromised. Check with your doctor if you need to take preventative measures - for example, compression stockings to lower your risk of a blood clot or prophylactic antibiotics. Keep your drugs with you along with a letter from your GP or Oncologist confirming the drugs are for you – this is particularly important if you are taking opioids which are controlled drugs.

Macmillan Cancer Support have produced two booklets with information for travellers.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

An EHIC card entitles holders to get free or reduced cost medical treatment in state-run-hospitals in EU countries and in Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. You will receive the same care that residents of that country get but this may not be to the same standard as our own NHS. You may have to pay for some treatments up front and then claim the money back later.

The card will cover you for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions but you should remember that the EHIC may not always cover the full cost of any treatment and will not cover the cost of getting you home in an emergency, neither does it cover lost or stolen property. It is therefore advisable to arrange private travel insurance as well as taking your EHIC with you.

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