You can get travel insurance if you've had cancer. Here's how.
We've found a host of Australian travel insurance brands that cover various cancers and one that considers any pre-existing condition to make sure that you can get the cover you need for your upcoming trip.
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Which travel insurance brands on finder may cover you if you've had cancer?
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Can you get travel insurance that covers cancer?
Yes. Anyone who has or has had cancer can get travel insurance. However, whether or not you’ll be covered for the condition itself varies both from insurer to insurer and from person to person.
There are insurers out there such as All Clear Travel Insurance that specialise in medical travel insurance. All Clear claims to cover you at all cancer stages for a range of cancer types including bowel cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma and prostate cancer.
All Clear in some cases will provide cover for people with terminal conditions, so long as your prognosis is for six months or more, a doctor says you’re “fit” to travel and your transport provider agrees to take you.
Non-specialist travel insurer
Most travel insurers outside of the specialist market fall into one of two categories and will consider cancer as a pre-existing condition or exclude cancer as a pre-existing condition. For those that will consider providing you with cover, it will be conditional upon:
- A medical assessment that determines you’re fit to travel.
- Whether you’re in remission and how long that has been the case (6 to 12 months is often a minimum requirement).
- Whether you’re currently receiving treatment (in which case cover will usually not be provided).
If you’re able to get cover, you will pay a higher premium due to the greater risk to the insurer.
The other camp is those that won’t provide you with any cover for claims arising from your pre-existing condition. While these insurers won’t cover you for your pre-existing condition they might still provide you with a policy but exclude your condition.
Now, you might be wondering why you would want cover if your condition is excluded and that’s a valid question. While any claim related to your pre-existing condition is not claimable, the policy still covers everything else. For example, if you were walking down the street and you were hit by a car, the policy would cover your medical costs because it’s unrelated to your cancer.
So, it all comes down to:
- Do you want to pay more to cover your pre-existing condition? If you answered yes, look at a travel insurer that is either a specialist or one that will consider people who have cancer.
- Are you concerned about the high cost of travel insurance? Unfortunately, getting cover for a pre-existing condition can be costly. So, if you don’t want to spend all that money and are okay with not having cover for your pre-existing condition, you can take out travel insurance. However, should something happen while you’re overseas due to your pre-existing condition and you don’t have cover, that could end up being a lot more expensive.
Do you need to declare your condition?
If you have had cancer at any time in your life, it is considered a pre-existing medical condition and you should tell your insurer to avoid any misunderstanding. Letting them know ahead of time will save you the hassle later on should something go wrong.
What happens if the insurer won’t give me cover?
In general, insurers are not allowed to discriminate against people with cancer under Australian law. However, according to the Cancer Council of Victoria:
“An exemption under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 allows insurers to refuse insurance or change the terms of an insurance policy for a person affected by cancer so long as this decision is supported by statistical or actuarial data or other reasonable evidence.”
How do you disclose the medical condition?
Insurers generally have a list of pre-existing conditions they automatically cover in their product disclosure statement (PDS), but cancer is usually not one of them, so you must apply for special cover if it is available.
You must disclose your cancer to your insurer at the time of applying for your policy and it will usually require you to complete a medical assessment form and authorise your doctor to provide details of your condition and treatment. Your doctor may also be asked whether they consider you fit to travel without requiring additional medical treatment for your condition.
Whether your insurer provides cover will depend on your current health status, the length of time since you were treated and the degree of risk the insurer considers you to pose.
In the best-case scenario, it will provide cover at a higher premium. Alternatively, you will only be offered cover for non-cancer related travel risks.
What will you be asked for on your medical questionnaire?
The medical questionnaire varies between insurers but you can expect to be asked:
- What type of cancer do you (did you) have?
- When was it diagnosed?
- Have you received treatment for your cancer?
- When was the last time you received treatment?
- Are there any future treatments planned?
- What stage is the cancer?
- What grade is the cancer?
- Has the cancer spread from another section of the body?
- Has the cancer been removed or destroyed?
- Are you taking any medication such as painkillers?
Outside of these general questions you may also be asked more specific questions related to a particular type of cancer and also to provide supporting documentation from your treating physician.
Tips for travelling with cancer-related medical conditions
Cancer treatments can compromise your immune system, so you will need to take special precautions when travelling. These include:
- Keeping your medication close by (in your carry-on luggage, not under the plane).
- Carrying a letter from your doctor detailing your condition.
- Practising good hygiene including regularly washing hands and only drinking bottled water.
- Being sun smart, as chemotherapy and radiation make you more sensitive to UV rays.
- Ensuring plenty of downtime between activities, as you will feel fatigued more often.
Compare your travel insurance options
Obtaining travel insurance for a pre-existing condition such as cancer is clearly not easy, but as this guide shows, there are circumstances where you can find cover. The best way to go about it is to declare your condition upfront and to shop around to find the insurer most sympathetic to your needs.