Fiona Macrae, founded the travel insurance brand Insurancewith when she struggled to get travel insurance after her own cancer diagnosis in 2005. Fiona founded Insurancewith with the aim of providing people with medical conditions such as cancer a fair and affordable travel insurance policy to cover their upcoming holidays.
A cancer diagnosis can turn your world upside down, and treatment for cancer can be exhausting both physically and mentally, so it is understandable that many people’s thoughts after a diagnosis turn to holidays and those precious breaks become all the more important. However, it can feel like those carefree days of packing a suitcase and jumping on a plane are gone, but be reassured, they are not! They just need a bit more planning, and below are my tips for planning a holiday post cancer diagnosis.
Travel Check list:
- Speak to your GP or treating team to ensure you are fit to travel, your travel insurance will not cover you if you travel against medical advice.
- If you are asking for assistance at the airport or on the plane, it is advisable to request a fit to fly letter from your GP or treating team. They can take up to 4 weeks to arrange so make sure it is organised in plenty of time.
- Visit a travel agent or tour operator and speak about appropriate holidays for you – make sure the destination, airline and hotel are suitable for your needs. Consider things like length of flight, can you get a direct flight, quality of health care in the country you are travelling to and will you need any inoculations (you can’t have live ones for 6 months after chemo).
- Consider if you will need to request assistance while travelling, and if you will need disability access when you are abroad. If you do require assistance, make sure it is booked well in advance, it might not be available if you leave it until the last minute.
- Look into medical facilities and pharmacies close to your holiday destination and make sure you know where the closest one is for you.
- Travelling while taking cancer treatment – Are you travelling with antibiotics? If you are taking prophylactic antibiotics with you, that your treating team have already prescribed, check they are still in date and request a fresh prescription if required.
- Speak to the Country’s embassy or check the Foreign and Commonwealth website (https://www.gov.uk/take-medicine-in-or-out-uk ) to make sure your medication is legal in the country you are travelling to and you do not need to obtain a certificate of approval. This is especially important if you are travelling with any controlled drugs.
- Check your Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is valid, if not or if you do not have a GHIC or your old European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has expired, you can renew/register for one here (https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/).
- Ensure you pack any medication in your hand luggage, if it isn’t possible to pack it all in your hand luggage, split it between luggage.
It goes without saying, if you are planning a trip abroad, then you should ensure you have suitable travel insurance that also covers your medical condition. Below are some tips on looking for travel insurance after a cancer diagnosis:
- When looking at travel dates be flexible, as an example, travel insurance cover may not be available straight after surgery or treatment has finished, you may need to you may need to allow a period of recovery before insurers will consider cover.
- Looking for quotes for both single trip and annual travel insurance policies. Before being diagnosed with cancer you may have had an multi trip travel insurance policy. However, post diagnosis, particularly if you have just finished treatment or have a recent cancer diagnosis, you may only be offered a single trip policy initially.
- Do not exclude cancer cover from your travel insurance policy. Many people think, I am not going to need cancer treatment, or my cancer is not suddenly going to get worse while I’m abroad so why do I need to cover cancer? What they do not realise when they exclude cancer cover from the policy is, they are not just excluding cancer, but also anything that can be attributed to the cancer or the treatment of it. It is worth remembering, you are more likely to get issues with the side effects of your treatment than you are from your actual cancer while travelling. For example, if your take Tamoxifen (a hormone treatment for breast cancer) you are more prone to DVT, so you would be excluding cover for that. Or if you are on immunotherapy and pick up an infection, this could be attributed to your treatment, so also would not be covered, if you excluded cover for cancer on your policy.
- Ensure you have travel insurance cover for any activities you are planning to take part in. Many activities that you would consider normal to do whilst on holiday may not be covered under your travel insurance policy as standard so cross check the activities you will be taking part in against the cover offered by your travel insurance provider. Furthermore, if you are going on a holiday where you will be doing winter sports such as skiing or tobogganing, then you should look for a policy that offers winter sports cover, but again double check the activities that you will be doing against the cover provided.
- You should always take out travel insurance, where possible as soon as you have booked your holiday so you have cover should you need to cancel the holiday. If you are recently diagnosed or your diagnosis is more complex, we would always advise checking that you can get travel insurance cover to the destination you are thinking of travelling to before you book your holiday, particularly if you have just finished treatment, or if you have just changed treatments. The timing of the holiday around treatment or changes in treatment could also be relevant to whether cover would be available or not. Speak to the travel insurance provider and ask if moving holiday dates or destinations would help you to get cover.
- If you are travelling in Europe, you should always take your EHIC/GHIC Card with you. However, it must be noted that the EHIC/GHIC are not substitutes for travel insurance. Both cards will provide you with health care to the same level of a national of the European country you are visiting. But this does not mean that it is completely free; you would pay what a local resident would pay, which will differ from country to country. The EHIC/GHIC will also not cover you for repatriation back home if you are taken ill and cannot travel home as planned, which could be quite costly should you need a medical escort or air ambulance. Remember you may not be well enough just to jump on the next available flight home, and if the airline is at all concerned about your state of health, they will request a fit to fly letter from a doctor before they allow you to board the flight.
- Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer will take out a specialist medical travel insurance policy just for them and have their family on a general travel insurance policy. However, this is not advisable, should you needed to cancel the holiday due to your cancer or the treatment of it, you could make a claim for your portion of the holiday costs on your policy, but the rest of your family will not have declared your cancer to their travel insurance provider, so they would be unable to claim against their policy for the cancelled holiday.
The above blog has been written by Fiona Macrae, who founded the travel insurance brand Insurancewith when she struggled to get travel insurance after her own cancer diagnosis in 2005. Fiona founded Insurancewith with the aim of providing people with medical conditions such as cancer a fair and affordable travel insurance policy to cover their upcoming holidays.
We are partnering with Insurancewith to help provide you with further choice when you are searching around for a travel insurance policy to suit your individual needs. You can use our code CCSENTME* to receive a discount with Insurancewith.
To receive your quote visit: https://www.insurancewith.com/quote/
Insurancewith and tifgroup are trading names of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN306537. Travel Insurance Facilities Plc is registered in England No. 3220410 and registered office: 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UY.
*The discount code CCSENTME offers you a 20% discount made up of our automatic 15% online discount price and an additional 5% discount against the Customer Service Centre prices. This is discounted from the core policy price before you add any additional cost of optional extensions or additional medical premium.