Is it fair for insurance companies to penalise cancer sufferers with eye-watering premiums, even when the customer is declared cancer-free? Which? member, Debbie Neal shares her story.
Holidays are a luxury that not all of us can afford, but when you’ve been hit with a diagnosis of cancer and face months of gruelling treatment, getting away for a break before it all begins becomes essential.
I wasn’t after a round the world trip or an Arctic adventure, just a few days in a small town in France to enjoy the food before my treatment for tongue cancer meant I would be unable to eat normally again.
Cheap flights booked, I contacted my usual holiday insurance company, only to be told that as I’d had a recent cancer diagnosis and had not started treatment, I was uninsurable. I searched online for advice and found some recommended travel insurance companies for people with cancer. Success – they could offer me insurance.
From £20 to £400
I knew it would be more than the £20 I normally pay, but I wasn’t expecting it to be over £400 for a few days in France. I queried if I was really 20 times more likely to claim than my husband (the same company would insure him for £20, even with his high blood pressure), but it was take it or leave it, so I took it.
Six months later after treatment more awful than I could have imagined, I had a clear scan and I could start rebuilding my life.
I went back to the company I’d used the previous summer. I was flabbergasted to be told it was closer to £450 this time! But I was cancer free, I argued, and nothing about my condition was an emergency. Again, take it or leave it.
Where’s the risk?
I am not a holiday insurance risk. If my cancer does come back, it will be very slowly and my consultant will pick it up in the clinic. I might have to cancel, but my flights and hotel combined were not £450. I am not at risk of collapsing and needing emergency repatriation to the UK. So why is the premium so high? My insurance company could not explain why or tell me when my insurance would go down.
As a cancer sufferer I am vulnerable, and looking forward to a holiday at the end of my treatment kept me going when things were bleak. I would have paid almost anything to go away and in my opinion it is knowledge of this that forces the price up, not the increased risk.
This is a guest post by Debbie Neal, a Which? member. All opinions are Debbie’s own, not necessarily those of Which?