Travel insurance worries ‘like punishment’ for young cancer patients and their families

CLIC Sargent has highlighted the difficulty in getting travel insurance for children and young people who have been affected by cancer in response to a consultation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

Travel insurance worries ‘like punishment’ for young cancer patients and their families

In June 2017, the FCA asked for views on the challenges firms face in providing travel insurance for consumers who have, or have had cancer. In response, CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, asked some of its social workers and the families they support, as well as young people and their families about their experiences of accessing the travel insurance market. 

Emotional and financial burden

It emerged that searching, and paying for, travel insurance is adding a significant emotional and financial burden to young cancer patients and their families – with many being forced to pay costly premiums or miss out on holidays as a result.  

Some families said they had found the process of searching and purchasing travel insurance complex, confusing and costly. Many reported they had been rejected by insurers, had to miss out on holidays or even risk travelling without insurance. Young people and their families often struggled to find insurers willing to cover them, even when they had been deemed fit to travel by their medical professionals, or their condition was stable. One young person commented: “Insurers just see the word cancer and panic and put the price up.”

Cancer costs

Last year, CLIC Sargent’s Cancer Costs report, revealed that on average families who have a child or young person in active cancer treatment spend an extra £600 a month. The charity’s survey on travel insurance found the average amount families were spending was £175 but some respondents were quoted in excess of £3,000. 

One of the young people who completed the survey commented that:

“It’s a bit like punishment for what you’ve been through when they charge so much.”

Another said: “If you tell the truth they either don’t want to know or inflate the price to a level that makes it impossible.”

Others expressed frustration at the lengthy application process and mentioned being asked intrusive and inconsiderate questions about their cancer diagnosis.One respondent commented: “Insurers need a better understanding of cancers which affect young people. We are penalised indefinitely for something which is unlikely to cause a major issue.”

Needs of young cancer patients

Clare Laxton, Assistant Director of Policy and Influencing at CLIC Sargent, said: “We know that cancer costs children and young people and their families in so many ways. We don’t think it’s right or fair that young people are facing barriers in accessing the travel insurance market because of their cancer diagnosis.

“We welcome the Financial Conduct Authority’s prioritisation of this issue and look forward to working with them and the travel insurance industry more widely so that the travel insurance market better serves the needs of young cancer patients and their families.”

For more information, read CLIC Sargent's full consultation response.

Read the Financial Conduct Authority’s call for input.