A man living with a rare form of cancer has been hit with extortionate fees for travel insurance when booking a much-needed holiday.
Barry Jones, 74, from Crawley, was told he would have to pay a bill of £1,100 for holiday cover for which a healthy person could expect to pay around £37.
Barry’s plight was revealed by the cancer support group Macmillan which uncovered the scandal of insurers overestimating the risks of a cancer diagnosis for thousands of patients.
Barry was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours two years ago. Experts say that the tumours are usually slow growing and people living with the rare form of cancer are often well for a long period of time.
Barry said: “I have had a course of treatment and feel ridiculously well. My cancer is not a kind which could lead to my health deteriorating quickly so, as long as I am well leading up to a holiday, I would be fine.
“Like anyone I might have an accident or fall ill with something else or have my luggage stolen but my cancer would not be a problem.”
Barry and his wife Sheila discovered Barry faced the massive £1,100 travel insurance bill after they booked a holiday including a trip to Barbados and a journey along the River Amazon.
Now Barry has decided to take the risk and plans to travel to Israel with travel insurance which omits medical cover for the cancer for around £200. He said: “This is obviously a risk and I could fall over and break my leg but I do not want us to miss out on a holiday.”
In another incident, a Horsham man suffering from cancer faces having to cancel his plans for a once in a lifetime trip to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary because of huge travel insurance costs.
Teacher Tony Gellett, 58, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2015 and underwent keyhole surgery. But secondary cancer was discovered last year and, following surgery, he is now completing a course of chemotherapy.
He said: “During a break in my treatment the doctors suggested I take a break and enjoy some sunshine but as soon as you mention cancer while getting a quote, the cost leaps up to such a figure that it makes it prohibitive to go abroad. It really is very unfair.”
Tony, who has been teaching for 35 years, is now taking early retirement. He was looking forward to planning and taking a trip to the Caribbean with his wife for their landmark anniversary but currently the couple have not been able to find an affordable travel insurance option.
Marilyn Drury, manager of The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre based at Crawley Hospital said: “We get lots of visitors to the Macmillan Information and Support Centre asking about travel insurance, it is a common issue in the area.
“It is very unfair because the people we talk to just want a break when they need it most, to recuperate, celebrate the end of their treatment or spend precious time with friends or family. But instead they often find they are asked insensitive questions by insurers, must pay extortionately high premiums or run the risk of travelling without cover for cancer-related claims.
“We always advise people not to leave it until the last minute as unfortunately they need to plan ahead as it may not be as easy and straight forward to get insurance. We would also suggest visiting the Macmillan online community to see the latest recommendations for the best travel insurance companies.”