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Travel Insurance and Cancer

Hi There,

Wondering if anyone has been able to successfully obtain travel insurance that covers ovarian cancer as a pre-existing condition? I have dreams of travelling (outside Canada!) but it seems I've hit a roadblock with the travel insurance.

I have travel insurance through work, but it does not cover pre-existing conditions (only if something else were to happen, like a broken arm). I went to BCAA, as they have a pre-existing travel condition add-on, but they said it does not cover ovarian cancer. They advised I speak to their affiliate, Tugo Insurance, as they have cancer coverage. However, they only cover cancer if you are in remission and have letter from your doctor (I am not and still have evidence of cancer). I'm also on Tamoxifen, a hormone treatment, which they consider as being under "active treatment".

I know that most likely nothing ovarian cancer related will happen during my travels. However, I'm just nervous that if something were to happen, I wouldn't want to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills!

Anyone have any success or advice? Thanks so much! 


  • Good question. I just want to be able to cross the border into NY to see my sister. I need to check with my work insurance.
  • Hello @KarenMari53 and @amym85 - thank you for starting the topic.. I will be able to assist you... I'm checking in with @Marilyn and will message you again later.
  • Oh how I would love to go somewhere warm and sunny right now. I know three Ovca patients with metastatic disease that are flying (one) to Hawaii and (2) to Mexico in the next 2 weeks. Their diseases are stable right now, and although they have no travel insurance for Ovca as preexisting conditions they are weighing the risk and going anyhow. We all had a chat about this. One thing to consider is can you get back to Canada fast if you need to? Going somewhere with an airport that has frequent short flights home is less risky than heading to the back of beyond with connecting flights and long airport waits. My Oncologist tells me that cancer patients have a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis and says that long flights or drives are not a good idea. Also if your neutrophils are low your infection risk is elevated, and if you get a fever or bad cut that gets infected you need to be hospitalized fast. Probably not wise to travel out of a Canada if your counts are low, you’re starting new drugs or you’re still in treatment. 
  • Hello @amym85 and @KarenMari53.. I've shared some information with @Marilyn and we can provide some more details soon.

    Agreed @Nanakaw.. those are some very good issues to consider. thank you for posting. 
  • Hi ladies. My husband is an insurance broker specializing in life, disability and medical. He tried all his contacts to get me out of country medical with no luck. We decided to go anyway as I did get the go ahead from my oncologist. Our travel agent that we have used for many years informed us that officials can ask for proof of insurance either before boarding your flight or upon entering the country. Because I have so many medications to take including my Fragmin needles, I may well be asked. So disappointing for sure. Thank goodness we live in such a beautiful country. Lots of places to travel to here.
  • Hello ladies. I am with Sunlife & I guess lucky, as there is no pre-existing condition on my policy & I am not in active treatment, so I am free to travel & covered. If affordable, perhaps you can look into additional insurance prior to travelling ?
  • Hello @Jack - welcome to the chat site. Yes, it is a good idea for everyone to look in detail through a policy. Group plans and individual coverage details can vary, even though the provider may be the same. A good idea is to review the policy wording details - ask your provider to forward you the document for review, usually in a PDF format or a mailed booklet.

    Thank you @Quiltmama for your comments. Agreed, it is a good idea to seek the advise of a licenced travel insurance broker. The options that may be available will depend on the products that the broker has access to, your province of residence and of course your specific case. Over the next few posts, I'll list a few more details that I hope will help you ask the right questions.
  • Hi @amym85 @KarenMari53 @Nanakaw @Quiltmama @Jack and @Flowergirl

    This is a really difficult question because there are so many variables and so much depends on the company and the policy.  Yes, it is best to review your coverage in depth to find out what is and is not covered by your current policy, if you have one and to seek the advice of a licenced travel insurance broker as Flowergirl suggests above.   Here are things to be aware of and ask about:

    • Applications and policy wordings can be confusing and a licensed travel insurance broker can help you understand them
    • Eligibility, stability, pre-existing conditions, treatments and exclusions could be deciding factors in your coverage
    • It is important to know your official medical diagnosis and condition
    • You may want to confirm with your medical team to verify you are able to travel

    Here is a link to the Canadian government website for further information but for a detailed personal conversation about your own situation, talk to a professional.

    If people are interested, we may offer some kind of webinar/seminar about this topic.  Interested?

  • goodday
    edited February 2018
    Yes Marilyn, i would be very interested in a insurance webinar. I just returned from 6 weeks travelling through California. Talking to the different insurance companies was sooo frustrating. I decided to just go with insurance without coverage for my OvCa. I have active disease, but am not in treatment at the moment, had some radiation in November. Just decided to chance it and fly home if needed.
  • Hi @goodday.  Thanks for the feedback.  Yes, it can be a difficult and frustrating experience when dealing with insurance companies. I am glad that you didn't have any problems while you were away!  
  • Has anyone tried Travel Guardian insurance out in Edmonton? I just got a quote from them for my mom who wants to travel now that she's completed active treatment.  They gave me a quote over the phone for emergency medical coverage which excludes anything cancer related - naturally I get that.   I'm nervous because I've read reviews that they (and other insurers) tend to use the cancer against you to deny any claim even if its not related.  I would hate her to pay for something that isn't legitimate.   Any experience with them?  After reading these posts I'm getting the impression that most of you travel without the insurance since it's mostly too difficult to obtain. 
  • HI @Luci22 - I will send you a personal message with some info
  • @Luci22 If your mom is a member, try your local CAA. They offer emergency medical coverage (excluding cancer related issues). I've heard from other women with ovarian cancer who said they were able to successfully file a claim. Also, as CAA is a not-for-profit company, they will be less likely to deny claims.
  • Oh that's good.  I will tell her this because I think she might be a member.  Thank you!
  • Hello @Luci22 and @amym85... yes it may be an option to check with your local CAA. Depending on your province, they may have access to different insurance products.

    It is most important to verify and confirm that the applicant is eligible. 
    Next, you will want to review the stability period for the pre-existing conditions as well as the limitations and exclusions of the policy. It may also help to review the definitions section within the policy. 

    Claims may be denied for several reasons:
    • The applicant was not eligible
    • The applicant's condition (or reason for the claim) did not meet the stability period
    • The applicant misdeclared on the application (medical questionnaire, if applicable)