Insurers should do more to help cancer patients, says FCA

people on beach Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Holiday insurance can be expensive for travellers diagnosed with cancer

Insurance companies should do more to help customers suffering from cancer, the City regulator has said.

It follows a case in which a nurse with terminal breast cancer was quoted a minimum of £2,800 for travel insurance for a trip to Dubai.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that sufferers can sometimes find travel insurance more expensive than the rest of their holiday.

It has asked the industry to come up with ideas for helping such consumers.

The woman with breast cancer eventually found insurance for £800, through a specialist provider.

Such providers can sell insurance cover "at a fraction of the cost", the FCA said.

But they are not well known and rarely appear on mainstream price comparison sites, it added.

"Financial services need to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances that life throws at people, rather than being designed for the perfect consumer who never experiences difficulty," the FCA said.

'Sky-high prices'

The FCA worked with the Macmillan cancer charity to gain an insight into the difficulties faced by patients trying to access financial services.

"Every day we hear from people who are having trouble accessing travel insurance," said Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.

"They may have been quoted sky-high prices, had their cancer excluded from cover or had to deal with endless phone calls or mountains of paperwork in order to apply for a policy."

Industry bodies such as the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association already operate a code of practice for vulnerable and disabled customers.

However, the FCA said it expected more to be done to help them.

The ABI advised people to approach specialist firms to get the best deals.

"Travel insurance is widely available for people who have long-term and serious health conditions, including people who have cancer," said the ABI's head of conduct regulation, James Bridge.

"For customers that are struggling to find cover, we would advise approaching a specialist provider, who should be able to offer insurance based on their particular circumstances, including what type of illness they have."

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