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Do travel insurance companies not like covering former cancer patients?

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I was tempted to use 'discriminate against' in the thread title but thought that may have been a bit too strong.


Ok, so my mum is currently on a trip to Dubai with my dad (He's already over there for work) and so we went to take out a travel insurance policy. She's done this trip (alone and with me) several times in the past few years so we've got a good bit of experience with buying Travel Insurance online, usually from the Post Office, and just printing out documentation at home within minutes. All nice and simple.


So this year we sat down (She's not at all IT-savvy, so it's down to good old Son who works in IT to do something so 'complicated' for her :razz: ) and went to go through the process as usual, but this year there was something a bit different about the questions to answer/fill in, with more details on the medical side being requested. In the past there's never been any medical questions when buying travel insurance beyond the "pre-existing conditions wont be covered" type stuff. Now, unfortunately my mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer nearly 6 years ago. Fortunately it was caught very early and through a combination of minor radiotherapy and drug treatments, she made a complete recovery and was given her all clear last December. Previously this has never been applicable to the questions that we've been asked when buying Travel Insurance online, but the new questions, or at least the new wording of the questions, meant that it did seem to fall into the 'relevant' bracket now, so when the following question came up,

Within the last 2 years, you or anyone to be included on this policy;

has had any surgery, inpatient or outpatient treatment or any referrals or investigations of any sort. This includes being on any waiting list;

has taken any prescription medication, tablets or received any medical treatment;

received any medical advice or treatment for any respiratory condition relating to the lungs or breathing;

received any medical advice or treatment for any heart, stroke or diabetic condition;

suffered from anxiety, depression or any Psychological Condition;'

Along with.

Does this person have a medical condition or, have they ever had a medical condition?

We had to click Yes, wanting to give an honest declaration that she had been for treatment, but that she was now all clear and no longer undergoing any treatment.


On clicking Yes we were asked what the condition was, and Breast Cancer was an option. We were then given the following questions,

Has the disease ever spread beyond the breast?

Available answers were, "No", "Yes - spread to lymph nodes in armpit only" and "Yes - spread to other parts of the body". Fortunately, our answer was "No".


How long ago was the initial diagnosis of breast cancer made?

"Under 2 years"

"2-3 Years"

"3-5 years"

"5-8 years"

"8-10 years"

"More than 10 years"

Our answer was "5-8 years"


Was the breast cancer completely surgically removed after diagnosis?



"Still waiting for surgery to remove the cancer"

Now on this one, we selected "No", as there was never any surgery. However I'm assuming here that Chemotherapy and medication don't classify as 'surgery' as there wasn't what I could consider a surgical procedure involved.


How frequently are you seeing a hospital doctor about your cancer

For this one we selected the option of 1 to 2 visits in the last 12 months, the last one being her final check last year before getting her all clear.


Are you currently having any treatment or is any planned

Well, no she's not. Treatment is complete, but there was no option for that at all. There were only options for Chemotherapy, Surger, Radiotherapy, Tablet treatment, Other Treatment or No. So we had to pick no.



So as you can see, there were absolutely no options to say "I did have cancer, but it was treated completely successfully without the need for surgical removal". So we put in those details, and then got prompted that there were no policies available based on the information. Hm, odd.

So next we tried a comparison site, thinking that might be a bit better. We ended up on Moneysupermarket after prompting that there was a previous cancer case involved were directed to their "Pre-existing condition" quote site. Sounded good, something a bit more specialist. Went through that only to be prompted with word for word the same questions and answers. Obviously we put in the same information....and got the same results. No policies available.


In the end, she had to phone up her bank and managed to get a quote over the phone since she could actually explain the cancer was now gone and she'd received her all clear.



But why not have an option for people who have been successfully treated for Cancer? Why did we have to go through all that? Are insurance companies just of the opinion that once you've had cancer, you always have cancer?

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Post Office have changed the Insurance company they use for their Travel product. It was Ageas who had a good reputation, but is now some other company Great Lakes administered by Collinson Insurance Services, whoever they are. I think it will go down hill, so would not recommend using them again. Great Lakes appear to be some large US corporattion and they often have different way of doing things.


With people who have had Cancer, it is recommended to never just arrange cover online, unless you can complete all the information and get confirmation of being covered properly.


Age UK Travel Insurane still use Ageas and probably have the same underwriting way of doing things as you experienced before. They are a very good company for Travel Insurance according to what I have been told or read. There are other Travel Insurances that cater for people who have had cancer in the past such as All Clear Travel.

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I'll keep in mind places like All Clear Travel. Think my mum might take a bit of offence if I try to organise it through Age UK... ;)

After this experience though I can safely say we wont be bothering with the Post Office again. Just struck me as odd that a large comparison site seemed to be asking the exact same questions with the same wording. I guess they were using the same company as the Post Office.


Over the phone with Yorkshire Bank she had no problems getting cover sorted right away, so what you say about not going online for it does seem to ring true unfortunately. Just seems a bit prejudiced (to me anyway) against people who've been unfortunate enough to have cancer, but fortunate enough to make a complete recovery.

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