FCA launches review into how travel insurers can give cancer patients a better deal

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The review is part of a wider initiative by regulators into whether people can access insurance that meets their needs (Source: Getty)

The UK's financial watchdog is examining whether cancer patients are getting a raw deal in accessing travel insurance.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) this morning asked for feedback on the "challenges firms face in providing travel insurance for consumers who have, or have had, cancer, and the challenges for these consumers in accessing insurance".

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FCA executive director of strategy and competition Christopher Woolard said:

Being able to access financial services is critical for people to fully participate in society. We hope that this will encourage discussion on access issues to examine the challenges for firms and consumers.

Many cancer patients struggle to obtain travel insurance, preventing them from going on holiday either during, or after undergoing, harrowing cancer treatments.

Financial regulators want to know examples of "innovative practices" by firms that mean patients can be insured. They also want to know what barriers face insurers in providing such insurance and improvements that could result in better consumer outcomes.

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The consultation is the FCA's latest step in responding to a broader paper published last year entitled "Access to Financial Services in the UK". It focuses on the challenges consumers can face when trying to find insurance that meets their needs.

“Given our previous findings in this area, we see this as a critical time to fully explore these issues and consider potential solutions," said Woolard.

"Medical screening"

The FCA review was welcomed by bone marrow cancer charity Myeloma UK. Debbie Gardiner an information specialist at the charity said many insurers use a "medical screening" system to work out whether they can offer a cancer patient an insurance policy.

She said:

The questions posed by these systems are usually generic which can sometimes result in patients who are considered medically fit to travel being refused insurance or in some instances being charged a high premium.

“We would like to see insurance companies developing cancer specific screening with questions appropriate for the patient’s diagnosis.”

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However, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) head of conduct regulation James Bridge stressed travel insurance products are "widely available for people who have long-term and serious health conditions".

He added: "Insurers are always striving to find new ways to develop products that are affordable and accessible; regardless of circumstances."

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