Travel insurance for cancer sufferers

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  • AnthonyDunn

    Dear All,

    I am seeking some assistance and advice.

    As I may have intimated recently, Senior Management and I now find it necessary to commute to Rotterdam in the Netherlands on a 28-day cycle pro tem. This is because – and the experience is engraved in my memory – back in mid-March19, she was diagnosed with an advanced adenocarcinoma of her left lung. This is a particularly nasty type of cancer.

    She has been under the care of two of the leading oncologists in the UK who cast around for a treatment plan and they alighted upon an (unlicenced) agent out of California that is undergoing its phase 2 trials for FDA/EMA approval. Alas, and the commentary is NOT mine but is that of the oncologists, major drug trials are now starting to avoid the UK owing to the departure of the EMA and the uncertainty around the UK’s future pharmaceutical regulatory regime. I am NOT going to argue the toss with anyone about this; it is what we were told and it is where we are. Owing to their begging and cajoling the US-pharma company, Senior Management has ended up being accepted onto a trial cohort at Erasmus Universiteit Medisch Centrum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. That was a process in itself. Thankfully, Erasmus is an extremely impressive place.

    A corollary we’d not envisaged is that we have, to date and despite much persistence and research, been unable to obtain any form of travel insurance for her. Cancer: specialist insurers. Cancer + phase 2 (unlicenced) trials: becoming seriously rarified. Cancer + phase 2 trials + overseas = “Eeks, all too difficult….”

    Until 31Oct19, on current plans, we will have our EHIC card. Thereafter, who knows. We are having to self-insure with a cash fund for our trips over to mainland Europe. We have had to cancel all long-haul travel plans and we have placed the USA totally off-limits.

    Does anyone have any leads or advice for how we might obtain what is clearly an extremely specialist type of travel insurance? I will break with an established practice and will include my personal email address: [email protected]


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    I myself use AllClear insurance brokers to search for travel insurance. So far I have not seen any exclusions from them but it is always possible. Have you looked at them yet?

    Can I ask a question about what insurance you actually need here? Is it health insurance whilst on the continent or is about cancellations, sudden change of plans, etc. If it is the latter, would it be more cost effective to buy refundable tickets and pay with credit cards, etc? It seems to me that it should make no difference whether or not you have a disability or health issue when it comes to cancellations, lost baggage, etc. These issues are independent of your status. So it sounds to me it is more about having health insurance whilst travelling on the continent or have I misunderstood?



    I will check out AllClear insurance brokers and see what response we obtain.

    The issue is really to cover inadvertent incidents/accidents and mishaps completely unrelated to Snr Management’s health condition. She is currently fit to travel, notwithstanding her adenocarcinoma, so it would be cover for anything else that might arise. In terms of ticketing, we’re inclined to do our standard fixed date tickets and if anything sudden came up, cancel and pay for a new ticket there and then.

    I’ve had one follow up response which alighted upon the one underwriter from whom we are having to provide substantial additional medical data from the most recent blood tests, ECG, and CT/MRI scans complete with full medical commentaries. This has become a cottage industry in its own right.

    Thanks for the response.


    Hi Anthony, sorry to hear about SM, seems on this one you are stuck between a rock and a hard place as I see it

    As Bath points out if its to cover possible loss from change of travel plans you may have to bite the bullet and move to fully flex type tickets or lower cost charges to change. I have had to do the same because my prostrate cancer is now classified as pre-existing so cannot get cover except for other reasons not health related. As for insurance to cover medical bills I had similar issue in the open market place. I opted back into our corporate Bupa scheme as could not get cover for other potential issues outside of it from other places. This however does not cover me for problems related to my condition so whilst I am sure I will have no problem on a claim for example a broken arm I am sure any issue related to my nether regions whilst unrelated to the cancer may be fun trying to claim.

    Whilst it does not relate to your case I did not want this problem to control my life so I receive my primary care in the Uk under the NHS but I have also set up a link between my Uk senior oncologist and an private French oncologist in Vietnam where is am every month to share notes, perform reviews, prescribe medication etc just in case I cannot get to an appointment in UK (they have already cancelled/postponed 3 due to staff shortages!) by coincidence my Uk oncologist is also French! it works well for me however I do have to pay the VN one out of my own pocket but at an average of 100 USD a visit with 48 hours’ notice I can’t complain!

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    You may also want to take a look at AllClear. They explicitly provide insurance for pre-existing conditions.

    2 users thanked author for this post.


    I pay a fortune for annual travel insurance due to a couple of health problems. This year I saw something on social media about a lady who started her own company (from memory) because she had cancer and was struggling to get insurance. I got a quote and it was less than half what my usual company had quoted me – including the same cover for conditions etc. The company are called Insurance With. Strange name but so far I’m impressed! Good luck.

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    Hi Anthony,

    I too am sorry to hear of the condition of the SM.

    My SM has a history of cancer, albeit over 10 years ago now and I have a more recent case, neither of which is as aggressive a type as you good wife’s, however, I also have to take a number of pills for blood pressure, cholesterol etc and all of these have to be declared or there is no point in taking it out.

    After much looking around for quite a while and although we were not declined the quotes were tediously expensive (for Worldwide excl USA and multi-trip)

    I eventually went through a broker web site ( which has a number of insurance options and finally went with (

    They insured and at a reasonable price (well if you call £400 reasonable) and at least we are now both covered.

    I wish you and your wife the very best and hope you get something sorted out.

    PS. I have not tried it myself, but I have heard that if you try the airlines insurance company, they can be more flexible especially if you say you are shopping between airlines. Maybe? I did not myself as I am sick of spending more money with BA and getting rubbish service, but that is another subject.

    Good luck.

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    Tom Otley

    I too am very sorry to hear about this. Good luck.


    Sorry to hear about SM – i have been recommended Boots – by one of our oncologists. Good luck.

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    I, too, can recommend InsureWith. When first diagnosed with Myeloma and a well-used second home in Florida, Insure With was the first – and only – Insurer that seemed to understand Myeloma. I was able to chat through with someone, rather than answer questions from standard crib sheet.

    I believe the company was set up by two survivors of breast cancer who had suffered what we all haVe in trying to get travel/health insurance and set out to do something about it.


    Hello Anthony, so sorry to hear about SM, I can’t even begin to imagine what you must both be going through.
    I lived for many years in Rotterdam and can attest that it is a wonderful hospital, very proficient with marvelous doctors so she will be in very good hands.
    I will email you directly later this evening though I regret I can’t help with advice concerning insurance.
    I wish you both well.


    Anthony my best to your wife, I know exactly what you are going through having gone through similar circumstances personally over the last few months, I am more than happy to be the ear at the end of a phone should you wish, Martyn has my details if you require ….


    Dear Anthony, I too can add nothing to the insurance question but want to add my support and best wishes to those already expressed. The same goes to those other posters who have talked about their own cancer experiences here – my support and best wishes to all of you as well and, in all those cases, to all of your loved ones.

    It is a quirk of human life and emotions that most sympathy and support is given to the cancer victim and less to their partner, yet the reality is that it is often the partner who worries more and is more stressed. To put it another way, the patient has the physical issues to deal with (and I certainly don’t want to diminish those), but the partner often has considerably more emotional difficulty. I have seen this at various episodes in my own life, from both sides of the equation, and it is a very real phenomenon.

    Anthony, I hope you will seek out a support group (if you haven’t already done so) and that you and SM can both realise that while she needs a tremendous amount of support, you need it too, and that you also need a bit of “Me Time”. Speaking again from personal experience, if you succumb to the all-too-natural desire to dedicate yourself 100% to SM, that leaves nothing left over for you and that will adversely affect your own health, physical and emotional. That won’t help SM at all – quite the opposite, it may also cause her the same emotional stress that you are going through now.

    I beg you, therefore, to please ensure you take time to take care of yourself. Only by doing that can you continue on a longer term basis to give, as you undoubtedly are, every support that you can to SM.

    My heart goes out to you both, and I hope that in due course you will be able to come back here with good news for you both.

    All the best


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    Tom Otley

    I saw this recent piece on MSE

    Travel Insurance For Those With Pre-Existing Conditions
    How to find affordable cover

    It makes money from the recommendations, I imagine (the ones with an asterix, I think), but it’s a useful discussion….

    Step 2: If you’ve got a serious condition, try specialist medical comparison sites
    To get cover for more serious conditions, such as certain heart conditions or cancer, you’ll likely need help from a comparison site which trawls specialist insurers that the standard sites may miss.

    Medical Travel Compared, All Clear Travel and Staysure* are good starting points and will help you find specialist providers for your conditions. Other specialists to add to the list to push the envelope are Avanti*, MIA Online, Orbis and Global Travel Insurance*.

    Step 3: If you still can’t get cover or are not happy with the price, contact a broker
    If you’re still unable to find cover for your condition or the quote is still too expensive, speak to a specialist broker which should be able to help you. To find one, try the British Insurance Brokers’ Association.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Morning Anthony , I can’t add anything more than what’s already been said far more eloquently by others above

    And apologies, in all honesty I was actively avoiding reading this thread, due to selfishly trying to blank out my own feelings as I take this emotional journey with loved ones around me.

    Ian’ s comments are definitely worth a second thoughtful read ,, and resonated with me big time.
    No one can imagine what others are going through, it’s a unique journey to each and everyone of us.

    A wee thought for us all as we get older together and time takes its revenge on our fading youth …..
    As we step into today , we say goodbye to yesterday and plan to welcome tomorrow hoping that it’ll be todays yesterday , so embrace today as one day we won’t be able to say goodbye to yesterday as we do today,.

    3 users thanked author for this post.
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