Recovered from Cancer but not covered to travel abroad?

People affected by cancer are being short changed when it comes to travel insurance, says leading cancer care charity Macmillan Cancer Support. Some are quoted double or triple the cost of their holiday and others face tactless and insensitive questions when enquiring about insurance┬╣.

People affected by cancer are being short changed when it comes to travel insurance, says leading cancer care charity Macmillan Cancer Support. Some are quoted double or triple the cost of their holiday and others face tactless and insensitive questions when enquiring about insurance¹. In response, Macmillan is launching its Recovered But Not Covered campaign today to help people get a better deal on travel insurance.

Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Macmillan Cancer Support, said; "Hundreds of people contact Macmillan about travel insurance every month.  They tell us they're being refused travel insurance or quoted massive premiums and they just don't understand why. Some people also tell us that the insensitive attitudes of some travel insurance sales staff leave them deeply upset.

"More people are living long and active lives after cancer and that's why Macmillan is calling on the travel insurance industry to look again at the risk posed by people affected by cancer and improve the deal offered to them."

New research published by Macmillan reveals that two in five (39%) cancer patients have been quoted higher travel insurance premiums, one in 13 (8%) have resorted to going on holiday without any travel insurance, and one in 17 (6%) have been refused insurance altogether¹.

George Ritchie (52) from Peterborough, has recovered from bowel cancer. He tried to book insurance for a two week holiday to Florida. He says; "I rang several companies and was quoted various amounts from £800 to £2,450. In the end I bought insurance for £60 but it seems ridiculous that some of the quotes were so high."   Similarly Tracey Neill (40) from Kent, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 17, yet 23 years later she is still finding it hard to buy travel insurance despite never having had a cancer recurrence. She says; "When I applied to a high street travel insurance company for cover, I was shocked at the figure I was quoted. I was told I was such a high risk they almost had to refuse me insurance."

Macmillan's campaign aims to work with insurers to challenge their attitude towards cancer and encourage them to review the insurance risk posed by the growing number of people affected by cancer who are out of active treatment and are recovering or recovered many years ago². The campaign also seeks to improve the levels of customer service offered to all cancer patients and Macmillan is calling on travel insurance companies to look at their customer service training for sales staff to ensure that customers affected by cancer are treated respectfully and tactfully.


Mrs Stam, from Glasgow, tried to book insurance for her husband who has a rare form of cancer but is not terminally ill. She says; "When phoning round for insurance, I was asked tactless questions, such as 'is your husband going to die?' and 'how long has he got?'. I was angry about the lack of compassion and humanity shown by the call centre staff. We just wanted a break and instead faced a barrage of questions."

Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby continues; "Some of the stories we've heard are shocking - many patients tell us that they have been asked thoughtless questions about their cancer which leave them feeling discriminated against. This can be very distressing when you're trying to buy insurance for a restful holiday or trip abroad to visit family. We want to improve cancer patients' access to travel insurance and improve their overall customer experience."

Macmillan is also working in partnership with The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) to explore the existing customer service experience for people affected by cancer and the range of insurance products on offer to them at present. RBS will undertake a research trial that will examine current processes, products and services and look at ways in which travel insurance can be developed and improved for cancer patients.

In time, Macmillan will develop best practice standards to improve ways in which cancer patients access travel insurance, and will be encouraging other travel insurance companies to also get on board.

Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby adds; "We welcome the fact that RBS is working with Macmillan to look at the insurance products and services on offer to cancer patients and we hope that other insurers will follow suit."

Macmillan is also urging patients to join the Recovered But Not Covered campaign by sharing any tips, ideas or experiences on the website www.macmillan.org.uk/travelinsurance or by taking part in Macmillan's travel insurance survey. Macmillan's campaign launches with a major awareness drive using radio adverts, on-line advertising, posters, an information leaflet and website.

For an information leaflet or to find out more about Macmillan's campaign, please call the Macmillan Cancer Support Campaign line on freephone 0800 500 800 or visit the website at  www.macmillan.org.uk/travelinsurance .

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