Frustration with travel insurance policies, is it chemo brain or just confusing legalese?

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Nadi
Nadi Member Posts: 619
edited February 2017 in General discussion
Hi all. Yesterday a battle weary hubby and I booked an overseas trip and we have to pay the deposit tomorrow. Of course being diligent I read the BCNA fact sheet on travel insurance and breast cancer which recommended I check my insurer's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

I was happy to read in my insurer's PDS that they automatically cover breast cancer provided you were diagnosed over 6 months ago, have not had any chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the last 6 months, your cancer has not spread beyond the primary site at any time and your journey is less than 6 months.  

That seems great for me as I tick all the boxes.  However, I was also checking reviews of different insurers on some travel websites where people reported instances of the fine print being problematic when it came to making a claim causing doubt as to whether someone with a previous diagnosis of cancer is covered or not. This lead me to take a closer look at some of the clauses..

For example, hubby and I opted to take additional cancellation cover. The PDS states that if due to circumstances outside of your control and unforeseen at the relevant time you have to cancel the journey (where you cannot rearrange prior to leaving home) they will pay the non-refundable unused portions of all travel costs prepaid in advance.

It's still not clear to me (maybe it's that darn chemo brain again) that if a recurrence is diagnosed prior to departure and you have to change or cancel your travel plans to undergo treatment whether you are covered, since one interpretation could be that for breast cancer a recurrence is not really an 'unforeseen' event. And what about if you do have a recurrence and being on that roller coaster again means you just want to cancel your trip altogether and not have to 'rearrange it' because hey sometimes you just have too much stuff to deal with, are you covered for that? Of course my travel agent was no help with my questions so I did what I thought was sensible and rang to seek confirmation from the insurer about what I would be covered for only to be told "sorry I can't help you as you are dealing with a travel agent."   What the...????????

Since I can't get any answers from the insurer can anyone clarify for me? Or has someone ever taken out travel insurance, had a recurrence before they went on the trip and then made a claim?

 The trip is not until Sept and it's rather pricey. I don't want to have to pay a large deposit tomorrow if I am feeling a bit unsure about being insured.

Thanks in advance

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  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,373
    edited February 2017
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    Book the trip, Nadi.

    I have absolutely no legal advice regarding how you will go if you have to cancel because of reoccurrence but if you are well now, do you really want to be held to ransom by something that may not happen? That's the sort of soul destroying stuff we can avoid doing to ourselves. If it comes back in such a way that a couple of weeks is make or break regarding more treatment, deal with it then.

    Yep, that's a really cavallier attitude to your finances, and a very irresponsible attitude in general, but you did ask for an opinion.

    Have a GREAT holiday
  • adean
    adean Member Posts: 1,036
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    Hi l had bc in 2012 but now have blood cancer l have twice booked with allianz and this only being last week. My husband had a heart attack 12 weeks ago but no probs . The cover was around $400 
  • melclarity
    melclarity Member Posts: 3,524
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    Nadi, how far in advance are you booking the trip?? as Im thinking if youre taking it in the next 6 months or so, I wouldnt expect youd have a recurrence. CGU I know are fine with covering Breast Cancer and I use them. Book the trip, lets face it, its all on a what if, I say this as having had a recurrence myself at the 4 year mark. You are right in that at the time of recurrence, no way I was going anywhere I had too much on and get my head around, the last thing I wanted was a trip. BUT you are fine, so go for it! Im not sure about the fine print about recurrence, it is unforseen so really at the time you book, you are free! Hugs Melinda xo
  • Nadi
    Nadi Member Posts: 619
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    Thanks everyone. I can't believe the tension in our house since we got the quote on Saturday. I must be insane. I now realise that it is a previously unacknowledged fear of recurrence that is really holding me back.

     A spectacular holiday would be nice. One where we make lifetime memories. One which serves to cross off a few of those bucket list things. But poor hubby NEEDS a spectacular holiday. We don't really do anything or go anywhere much normally.  I sometimes forget all that he has been through with me and just how hard he works (min 10 hours a day everyday) to keep this family afloat. My chances of recurrence are low. So I thought I hadn't really been thinking about it. And yet now this trip has brought it to the forefront. I am thinking about it. In little ways every day.

    It's just that BC was expensive,  so far it has cost us over $70k with lost wages and out of pocket expenses and to think we may lose another large sum of money if on a miniscule off chance things goes wrong in next 6 months and we have to cancel the trip, makes me nervous. Balance that with my strong desire to pay our house off as quickly as possible so I can quit work and care for my elderly and very ill parents full-time should anything else happen in the future. Gee. I am a psychological mess. But there you go... there's my deep dark thinking. I've laid it all our there..... phew, it's a bit cathartic.

    @Zoffiel - hubby said same thing, do we really not want to go anywhere ever again because I worry that the cancer might come back?  @Melcarity - you're right. @adean- i am happy that you had no trouble and I hope you and your hubby are doing ok. 

    Ladies you are all so right. We have to live life. So, I just got off the phone to Covermore, They said no worry. They said BC under the conditions above is covered. Even if I get a recurrence I will be covered. My portacath is also covered. So no more excuses.

    I think this whole thing just goes to show how a BC diagnosis can affect other aspects of our lives that we might not even think about.

    Guess I needed to vent on this forum to work all this out. Doesn't mean I won't be scared about it in the future, maybe I'll need your wonderful reassurance again for many months to come.

    Thanks a bunch


  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,566
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    Nadi pleased to read you have clarity on the travel insurance.  Vent away as we try and find our new normal; the fear of recurrence sits simmering in the background and this fine print has brought it out for you.  There is an ad on tele at the moment that uses the old adage I could get run over by a bus!  It's a heightened awareness that we have with BC however as you rightly said it is time for a much needed holiday!  Enjoy the planning!

    Take care and sending you a virtual hug xx
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    Good for you. I have travelled several times with Covermore, but as I have never had to make a claim my experience of that end of things is happily non-existent. A holiday sounds just what you need. And unless you are travelling in countries with very poor medical provisions, it's probably not a major issue. Have a wonderful time! 
  • Ellie_BCNA
    Ellie_BCNA Member Posts: 10
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    Hi Nadi, thank you for your post on travel insurance. I'm
    really pleased you have found that Covermore will look after you for your
    upcoming holiday. It sounds like you have already read BCNA's fact sheet on
    travel insurance. It is a good idea to contact the insurer directly to get advice
    on how terms in the fine print will be interpreted, for your own peace of mind.



    You also mentioned that you have been dealing with some
    fear of recurrence. This is something many people who have had cancer
    experience - as the helpful comments from the women on this forum show!



    You might be interested to read BCNA's fact sheet on fear
    of recurrence (
    https://www.bcna.org.au/media/4167/bcna-fact-sheet-fear-of-cancer-recurrence-jan-2017.pdf)
    which has some information about why it happens and what might help you if you
    are experiencing it.



    Hope the holiday is fantastic and a beautiful time for
    you and your family.



  • melclarity
    melclarity Member Posts: 3,524
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    Hmmm I read that fact sheet, and I found it odd in terms of what they say to do to reduce your risk of recurrence, as strangely majority of women who get breast cancer have ALL DONE the right thing, are active and eat well etc etc., so it says to reduce a further risk do exactly the same things, but I did before I got it and had a recurrence all doing the right things that it suggested? hmmm interesting. As we all know, there is no rhyme or reason to getting it in the first place or a recurrence. So I did all the right things and I still got a recurrence, so ladies honestly, everything in moderation and just what feels good for you in all things. Even my Surgeon was gobsmacked at my recurrence because there WAS NO clinical reason why....it certainly wasnt from a lack of doing the right things. Just live, and enjoy the simple things, I sure do now! and I don't worry about the what ifs, because then Im wasting time in the NOW :) 
  • nikkid
    nikkid Member Posts: 1,766
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    I'm with you @melclarity! Sometimes I get the feeling people think we got BC because of something we did! I don't drink much at all, don't smoke - never have - am a vegetarian and pretty fit....but still got it. Let's face it...BC gets 1 in 6 people. Doesn't matter size, gender, ethnicity...it just does. And it's enjoying life and what it has to offer; grabbing at the beauty; holding loved ones tight; appreciating friends and trying not to sweat the small stuff...that's the valuable lesson it teaches us :)
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,373
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    Phhffft, if you are a good girl everything will turn out fine.... OK, I know that is not really  the message, but I fear I have been far too naughty in the past for a bit of restraint to make much difference at this stage.

     It does make me laugh though that all my medical team get terribly pained looks on their faces when I say I don't have any confidence in the treatment I'm undergoing. C'mon, guys, we all know it is a long shot. If I survive a couple more years they will pat me on the arm and say 'Arent you pleased you gave yourself the best chance?' if it all goes shit shaped quickly it will be 'You knew there were no guarantees.'

    Anyway, here's to holidays and more opportunities to be deeply irritating
  • melclarity
    melclarity Member Posts: 3,524
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    @nikkid yes you really said it! it's like majority of people dont look after themselves? Healthy people get Cancer...and then the irony, some really unhealthy people don't. If I indulged in too many sweets, it doesnt mean I caused it. I know its all well meaning and them trying to be helpful, but its not at all. None of it affects whether you get it or not. So thats why its important ONLY to live a good healthy life according to ONESELF. LOL 
    @Zoffiel even being naughty in the past, though I dont know how much LOL, isnt the reason you know?? Funny your comments, but I recall my Oncologist pretty much saying the same thing LOL YOU MUST do Chemo lol then....but no guarantees. Ummmmm hahaha! If you dont laugh you'll go mad! Hugs ladies!!! I say we're all doing just fine!!! :) 
  • nikkid
    nikkid Member Posts: 1,766
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    I love these sentiments ladies - you make me laugh...and that's the best medicine of all  <3
  • Nadi
    Nadi Member Posts: 619
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    I really think it's the luck of the draw. My grandmother smoked heavily from age 12 to aged 89 and never got cancer.  My step mother-in-law was reasonably healthy and was diagnosed at 43 with the same type of cancer as me, same grade, same stage. She had the same chemo and herceptin like me. After her mastectomy she went nuts on the healthy lifestyle. She juiced ALL the time. She turned orange from having too much of the special ingredient in carrots. She became a triathlete. She did yoga, meditation. And she only ate organic super foods. All to give herself the best chance of the cancer not coming back. Boy was she upset when she had a recurrence. She felt cheated and she also told me that she was disappointed in herself that she obviously hadn't done enough. I hate that she felt that way. She passed away aged 48 almost 11 years ago. Now I am 48 and I guess I am worried still. I know that some women get comfort from being empowered and doing all the right things to prevent BC returning and there are many other benefits from being healthy, but there's no guarantee of anything. 

    So I am raising my glass to you kind ladies for your wonderful advice. I will live life and make memories. Deposit is now paid. We're locked in. 
  • melclarity
    melclarity Member Posts: 3,524
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    Nadi im so sorry to hear of your mother in law. Im all for being healthy too and exercise but just shows it hasnt a great bearing. How awful to feel you didnt do enough...i believe we are enough period! Do what feels good thats all find your piece of happiness along the way thats more key than the rest. Xx
  • socoda
    socoda Member Posts: 1,767
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    Nadine, go on that wonderful holiday, do things you've never done before, run totally amok and feel giddy with happiness and pleasure. How incredibly exciting and now try and concentrate on the anticipation!! WOOHOOOOOOO!!!! Xx Cath