Fiona Macrae is a professional insurance broker with over 20 years’ experience. She was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in February 2005 when her son, Cameron, was just five months old. During her pregnancy, Fiona queried changes in her breast several times but was told she had nothing to worry about. Due to the delay in diagnosis Fiona’s Oncologist decided the best course of treatment would be chemotherapy first, followed by surgery and radiotherapy.
Fiona had 8 cycles of chemotherapy and at the end of this phase of her treatment she decided to take a holiday with her family to recuperate. However, when she tried to obtain travel insurance she encountered many problems. Insurance companies asked distressing, personal and intrusive questions, in an insensitive manner, and the cost of the policies they offered were more than the price of the holiday.
Following more research into travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions, Fiona was adamant that she wanted to do something to change the situation and enable everyone to have both appropriately priced and easily accessible holiday insurance regardless of their medical history
Insurancewith was launched in 2010 and over the years we have seen the landscape of travel insurance for people with conditions, such as primary cancer, change dramatically. People with a primary diagnosis are now able to access a choice of options for travel insurance. However, there is still more that needs to be done for people with life limiting or more complex conditions such as secondary cancer. This is something that Fiona unfortunately has experienced first-hand; she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in July 2020, fifteen years after her primary diagnosis.
Fiona’s secondary diagnosis has made her double her efforts to ensure that people like her continue to have access to appropriately priced travel insurance. She works with charities, members of our community and patient user groups to ensure that Insurancewith is keeping up to date with the ever-changing landscape of cancer treatment. Fiona also spends time with our medical team to make sure our medical screening question sets are updated regularly and that the questions being asked are appropriate for the current treatment available and are not triggering for people.
As well as supporting our customers, from launch we have supported multiple charities through the sale of Insurancewith products. By September 2022, we had donated over £170,000 to charity. Fiona said “charity support is so important when you are dealing with any illness, particularly cancer. Having access to forums so you can chat to people who just ‘get it’ is invaluable. One of Insurancewith’s founding principals was to support the charities’ and causes that support our customers. I am so proud of the amount of money we have already donated and will continue to donate to charity or towards a charitable cause.”
When Fiona was first diagnosed she noted, “living with breast cancer is hard and adapting to normal life again can be a struggle. When you are first diagnosed with breast cancer it can be very bewildering, you are thrust into a world you know nothing about. Something as simple as a holiday is now far more complicated because of the difficulty in finding travel insurance that will cover you fully now you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. You hear horror stories from people about being charged over £1,000 for a week’s travel insurance just because they have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I founded Insurancewith, which was developed from mine and other colleagues personal experience of living with cancer and mental health diagnosis, as an example. When we launched Insurancewith, I was determined to be able to offer people who had been diagnosed with breast cancer appropriately priced travel insurance which covered their condition. No matter what stage of Breast Cancer they have or how far into treatment they are. I am also very proud that Insurancewith is able to consider travel insurance for people still undergoing certain treatments.”
Too often people are advised to just exclude cover for cancer from their travel insurance policy to save money, (reasoning, “you are not suddenly going to get cancer while you are on holiday”). What people don’t realise is, they are not only excluding cancer but also excluding anything that arises as a result of the treatment for their cancer. For instance, if you take Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy generally used in the treatment of breast cancer, you could be more at risk of a DVT, therefore, you wouldn’t be covered for that. If you take Arimidex, another breast cancer hormone treatment, you could be more at risk of bone thinning, and if you break a bone on holiday this may not be covered either. With Insurancewith Fiona wanted to provide an appropriately priced travel policy for people with cancer and other medical conditions, that offered them cover for the medical conditions they declared to us, so they could just relax and enjoy their much needed and looked forward to holiday, even if they have:
1. recently been diagnosed with breast cancer
2. had chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or biological therapy
3. had surgery in the last few months.
4. secondary breast cancer
One of the major benefits of a policy with us is, in the event of an emergency or the need for emergency medical treatment abroad, Insurancewith have appointed a worldwide 24-hour emergency assistance team on hand to help who can organise and authorise your treatment, give medical and practical advice, as well as arrange alternative flights and accommodation for you and your family when you are fit to travel home. And importantly, will also liaise with the treating doctors and your specialist in the UK to ensure any proposed treatment is of a long-term benefit to you, not just an immediate solution.