Dealing with the ugly disease cancer is one of the most distressing things anyone can face in their lifetime. First the person has to come to terms with the fact that they have the life threatening illness, then they undergo a long and grueling process of chemotherapy which takes its toll not just on themselves but on their entire family. And then, once their chemotherapy treatment is over, there is always the chance that the cancer will again resurface.

So you can imagine how soul destroying it can be for those who, having battled the illness for some time, want to go on an overseas trip as a way to put their difficult experience behind them only to find that they are discriminated against when it comes to any travel insurance policy. You have a situation where some people who have had cancer are paying more for their travel insurance than for the cost of their flight. Many just take a gamble and travel without any cover because they cannot get insurance at all.

A survey by the charity ‘Cancerbackup’ has revealed that nine in ten people who have cancer struggle to get travel insurance. Seven in ten find the attempts to get the insurance distressing. Inclusive in these results are the people who have suffered from cancer in the past and are now free of the disease.

The results also show that seven in ten people were fit to travel, yet were quoted with significantly high premiums or else flatly refuse the travel insurance all together. So, as a result of the insurer’s reluctance to offer a reasonable policy to cancer sufferers, one in 20 in the survey chose to simply travel anyway and one in ten decided to cancel their trip all together because travel insurance was not available to them.

Says a spokesperson for a well-known Cancer Support Charity: “The insurance industry needs to recognise that not all cancers are the same and treat people accordingly.”
The charity predicts that because at least one million people have been given the bad news that they have the disease at some stage in their lifetime, the problem with travel insurance is one that is likely to get worse.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) will tell you that travel insurance is available for those who have had or currently suffer from cancer. But the problem is that this unavailable from the mainstream companies offering the cheap deals.

Some specialist insurers will offer policies, but at a cost. For example, one company charges a 48-year-old woman who had breast cancer five years ago £248.70 for a 17-day worldwide policy. For someone without any health concerns the cost of the insurance is as little as £20.

A spokesperson for a large broker said, “The exta costs can be worth it because when someone is feeling low, a holiday can be just what they need. They sympathise with people being refused travel insurance outright. Being refused insurance can have a terrible impact on their morale”.

The ABI says it will talk to Cancerbackup about the issue of travel insurance and whether those who have had cancer are treated unfairly. And they want to make sure that the results of the Cancerbackup survey do not put people off taking out travel insurance full stop.

Websites which offer more information include the Cancerbackup website ( and Cancer Research website (

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