JUST days before Pav Main was due to fly to Greece for her brother’s 60th birthday she was rushed to hospital and told she might have ovarian cancer.
Doctors told the now 59-year-old, a community development worker who lives in Wolverhampton, that she would need a full hysterectomy before they could diagnose her.
Despite finding out about the life threatening illness she was desperate to visit her brother, who suffers from a heart condition, and contacted her insurance provider but they said if she fell ill while away she wouldn’t be covered.
As medical bills abroad can run into sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds and facing time off work for treatment, Pav tried to find alternative cover and was quoted £1,200 for single trip insurance.
Her dream trip was cancelled – and she was devastated.
“I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of my sails as my hopes of telling my brother in person and spending some precious time with him was shattered,” Pav told The Sun.
“They’d clipped my wings at a time when all I wanted to do was to make the most of the time I might have left. I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t talk anymore.
“My daughter had to take the phone and hang up for me.”
The next month she underwent a full hysterectomy, was given a definitive diagnosis of ovarian and uterine cancer and started five rounds of chemotherapy.
A gruelling nine months of treatment later, Pav was given the all clear by her doctor who said there was “no sign of cancer” left in her body.
“I was thrilled and decided the most important thing to do was see my brother in Greece,” Pav said.
“But when I called the insurance broker and checked price-comparison sites, the price still didn’t come below £800 to £900 for a single trip.
“I thought my nightmare was over, but they didn’t seem to believe the good news that I was telling them.”
Pav then made the decision to fly to Greece without cover.
“It wasn’t a sensible decision, but I was physically and emotionally exhausted and needed family around me. This is a decision a lot of ill people are forced to make.”
Now, four years later, Pav is finally feeling back to normal.
HOW TO FIND COVER WHEN YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION
THE Association of British Insurers recommends taking the following advice to stay safe and insured on your travels:
- Always declare any pre-existing medical conditions. It doesn’t always mean paying a higher premium and non-disclosure could risk invalidating your insurance entirely.
- Shop around: different insurers may take a different attitude to particular medical conditions and a broker should be able to help you find a specialist provider that will cover more serious illnesses.
- Some companies worth trying inlcude Freedom Travel, InsureCancer, AllClear Insurance, and Towergate.
- Invest in the cover that best suits your needs and don’t assume the cheapest policy is the right one – especially if you have a medical condition.
- Medical charities and support groups may be able to offer help and guidance on travel insurance for specific conditions.
“I’m healthy and feel great being back at work, but my travel insurance is still double what my daughter’s is,” said Pav.
“‘I pay £600 for single-trip insurance – and with family all over the globe it’s keeping me from making the most of my second chance at life.
“Through speaking to other people living with and post-cancer through Macmillan – I realised that the cost of annual travel-insurance cover is out of the question for most.”
There are 14.1million people in the UK with a pre-existing medical condition, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Last week the City watchdog announced new rules to help people with pre-existing medical conditions to make it easier and cheaper to get insurance cover.
The FCA estimates customers can save 40 per cent by using a specialist provider and traditional firms will have to signpost customers to a directory which will connect them to such insurers.
Macmillan Cancer Support’s head of campaigns, Eve Byrne says, the measures are a step in the right direction.
She added: “The insurance market must change its approach to covering people with pre-existing conditions to ensure people living with cancer can access a competitive range of options that appropriately meet their needs.”
In July last year we revealed how insurers charge depression suffers double for travel insurance.
While The Sun’s travel editor, Lisa Minot, helped one reader get cover when they were diagnosed with cancer.