According to cancer research by the Australian Government, one half of all Australian men and women are estimated to develop some form of cancer by their 85th birthday.
In many cases a cancer diagnosis won’t put a stop to your travel plans, but it can make it more difficult to find a travel insurance policy that will cover you.
Many policies will automatically provide cover for a range of pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma. However, cancer is usually not covered automatically.
This guide will outline the options for travel insurance that can provide cover to cancer patients. There are a number of options to choose from, but keep your personal requirements in mind so that you can find the policy that is best suited to your treatment plan.
Can I get travel insurance if I have cancer?
Cancer is considered a pre-existing medical condition, so it may not be automatically covered in your travel insurance policy.
A pre-existing medical condition is any condition that has been diagnosed, is being treated, or that you exhibit symptoms of at the time of purchasing your travel insurance policy.
Travel insurers may fall into one of these categories:
1) Medical cover for cancer is included (often for the cost of an additional premium).
In some cases, you may have to pay an extra premium to receive cover for cancer on your travel insurance policy.
In these cases, you can choose to pay the extra premium and you’ll receive cover for potential emergencies related to cancer while travelling.
2) Medical cover for unrelated emergency expenses is provided, but cover for any expenses related to cancer is excluded.
You're still covered for unrelated overseas medical emergencies, such as if you had a fall and broke a bone, but there is no cover for any claims arising from or related to your pre-existing condition.
3) No medical cover is available due to the cancer.
If a policy does provide you with medical cover but excludes expenses related to the cancer, you may still receive the majority of the policy’s benefits.
Some of the other benefits you can find in a policy may include:
- Cover for emergency medical expenses unrelated to your pre-existing medical condition, for example, food poisoning or breaking a bone from a bad fall.
- Cancellation cover where the cause of cancellation is unrelated to your pre-existing medical condition. For example, if you were involved in a car accident before your trip and become injured, or because your parents or children become severely unwell.
- Cover for the loss or damage of your belongings, including mobile phone, camera, travel bag and travel documents.
- Travel delay expenses cover.
- Rental vehicle insurance excess cover.
If you are looking for a policy that does include cover for pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, contact the Insurance Council of Australia who may be able to refer you to an appropriate insurer.
What conditions are there to get cover for cancer-related emergencies while travelling?
Some travel insurers will offer cover for cancer, provided you meet a few conditions.
These conditions can include:
- A medical assessment, so the insurer knows that you’re fit to travel.
- Whether or not you are in remission and how long you’ve been in remission.
- Whether you are currently receiving treatment. Cover is often excluded if you’re currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
Conditions and exclusions may differ depending on your travel insurance provider and policy type. Always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or ask if you're not sure before purchasing a policy.
Travel insurance that excludes cover for cancer but provides other benefits
Some travel insurance policies exclude cover for cancer, but still offer many other benefits.
These may include cover for things such as luggage and personal effects, travel delays and emergency overseas medical expenses that are unrelated to cancer.
Jennifer was in remission for breast cancer when she planned her holiday to Hawaii.
She bought a Fast Cover travel insurance policy before she left which excluded cover for cancer, but would still cover unrelated medical emergency expenses.
During a nature walk in Hawaii, she slipped on some loose rocks and fractured her ankle. As the injury was completely unrelated to the cancer, her hospital and treatment costs were reimbursed.
How do I know if a travel insurer provides cover for cancer?
Travel insurers generally have a list of pre-existing medical conditions that they provide cover for. You can find the full list in their Product Disclosure Statement which is usually available to view or download online.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition that isn’t included in the automatically covered list, it is safest to assume it isn’t covered. Always ask if you’re unsure.
Do you need to tell your travel insurer that you have, or have had, cancer?
You should never lie to your insurer about a pre-existing medical condition. Lying does not mean you’ll be provided with cover and the travel insurer will likely find out about your medical history when assessing any future travel insurance claims.
It’s important to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions when purchasing a policy to ensure you’ll be covered if you have any health complications overseas.
Would I be covered for a secondary cancer if it was diagnosed after purchasing a policy?
If your policy doesn’t provide cover for cancer, and you’ve previously had cancer or are in remission, it is highly unlikely you’ll be covered should you develop a secondary cancer after purchasing a travel insurance policy. This includes before you travel or while you’re overseas.
For example, if you had a cancerous lump removed 12 months before you travel and then discover another lump while on holiday, you wouldn’t be covered for the costs of visiting the doctor or the treatment of symptoms related to the new cancer.
Travel insurance for cancer patients
Whether you’re recovering from treatment, taking a much-needed break, or celebrating the all-clear, a holiday overseas can be just what the doctor ordered.
Finding travel insurance can be a bit more difficult when you have or have had cancer, but it is possible. Remember to always read the Product Disclosure Statement to understand what cover you’ll have for emergencies, particularly medical emergencies, and ensure you purchase the right policy for your trip.
Tips for travelling with cancer
Cancer treatment can compromise your immune system.
Remember to make the necessary preparations before you travel and take extra care of your health while you’re away.
1) Stock Up On Medication
Stock up on any regular prescription medication before you leave. Make sure you have enough for your trip, plus some spare in case you're delayed getting home.
2) Organise Treatment Notes
Carry information about your condition and the treatment that you have received in case you have to go to hospital or see a doctor overseas.
3) Avoid Sunburn
Practice sun safety with sunscreen. Wear a hat and long, loose clothing to cover your skin as much as possible. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
4) Save Emergency Contacts
Understand what your travel insurance provides cover for and carry the emergency assistance team contact details with you at all times just in case!
If you need assistance finding a travel insurance policy which covers your condition, you can contact the Insurance Council of Australia.
*Stories are fictitious examples drawn from the experiences of Fast Cover travellers and staff. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.