A Horsham man who was treated for cancer has told of his battle to get travel insurance – after he was quoted more than £4,400 to cover a two-week trip to Mexico.
Teacher Tony Gellett, 59, spoke out about the staggering quote after the Financial Conduct Authority challenged the travel insurance industry to do more to help people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Tony is one of thousands diagnosed with cancer – even as long as ten years ago – penalised by what cancer support charity Macmillan dubs ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies.
Tony was initially diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2015 and had keyhole surgery. But a year later, secondary cancer was discovered and he underwent surgery on his liver and had chemotherapy.
After deciding on a holiday following his ordeal, he said: “I rang one company for a quote and they asked ‘Are you sitting down?’ I asked ‘Do I need to be sitting down?’ and they replied ‘Actually, you might be better lying down!’ I was quoted £4,438.03.
“In between treatments my doctor said ‘Have a good break’. I said’ How?’. In many cases like this, the cover is more expensive than the holiday, really silly prices. These companies need to understand that behind every application is an individual.
“There’s lots of ringing round, going online, answering the same personal questions over and over again only to be told, ‘We can’t cover you at this time’. It’s really stupid.”
Tony and his wife Jacqui were eventually covered for just £275 thanks to Tony’s membership of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners and enjoyed their two-week break in Mexico.
Tony, now working part-time as a teacher, is now in good health, said wife Jacqui.
A Macmillan survey of more than 2,000 people who have had cancer revealed an estimated 8,500 British holidaymakers who applied for travel insurance following a cancer diagnosis were unable to get a policy despite the fact that they were diagnosed with cancer a decade ago.
Independent watchdog the FCA has expressed concern that consumers find it difficult to access the specialist travel insurance market and it has announced today that it will work with key industry stakeholders to create a new service which will redirect customers to specialist providers.
Responding to the announcement, Macmillan Cancer Support’s executive director of policy and impact Fran Woodard said: “We welcome commitments today from the FCA to work with providers to make it easier for people with cancer to find suitable travel insurance, but we are disappointed that these proposals do not go even further. Improved signposting will only benefit people with cancer if, at the end of it, there is fair and affordable cover available.
“People with cancer deserve the same chance to enjoy a relaxing, restorative time away without worrying about extortionate premiums or travelling without cover.”
“No two cancer experiences are the same and if travel insurers want to meet the need for people with cancer, they must update their oversimplified medical screening to reflect this.
“Insurance policies should be clear and fairly priced for everyone, and we will continue all our efforts to achieve this.”