- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer care and your rights
- Insurance, financial and workplace concerns
Insurance, financial and workplace concerns
This section provides general information only about insurance, financial and workplace issues that may be relevant to people with cancer. For information specific to your situation, you should seek independent legal and financial advice.
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Before your diagnosis, you may have taken out personal insurance policies (e.g. income protection or total and permanent disability) or you may have insurance through your superannuation. If your policies cover your situation, it’s important to make a claim as soon as possible because time limits may apply. If you think you should be covered but your claim is denied, contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to see if we can connect you with a lawyer for assistance.
If you’re not making a claim, you don’t usually need to inform the insurer about your cancer diagnosis until you renew your policy or change your level of cover. However, it is a good idea to check what your insurance policy says about telling the insurer about health issues. When taking out a new policy, you generally need to provide your medical history, including cancer diagnosis. Insurance companies can refuse cover, but only on reasonable grounds. This does not include private health insurance; it is unlawful to be denied health insurance because of health issues, but there may be a waiting period before pre-existing conditions are covered.
For more on this, see our New insurance policies fact sheet.
Getting travel insurance can be a major concern for people with cancer or who have had cancer, as cancer is generally considered a pre-existing medical condition. Insurance companies may view you as more of a risk. They may believe that you’re more likely to get sick and require treatment while you’re travelling, or need to return home for treatment, or cancel your trip due to illness.
In general, you should be able to buy travel insurance for things that are not related to your cancer (like lost luggage, theft and cancelled flights). It may be difficult to buy travel insurance that covers cancer-related medical issues, but you should be able to get coverage for medical costs not related to cancer. If you have to tell them about any pre-existing health conditions, it’s important to be honest – a claim may be denied if you withhold information.
How to get travel insurance
- Apply for a policy well before your departure date.
- Shop around – the terms and conditions may vary.
- Ask your specialist or GP to write a detailed letter outlining your condition.
- If you are travelling overseas, check whether there is a reciprocal health care agreement between Australia and the country you are visiting that covers some of the costs of medical treatment. For more information, visit Services Australia and search for “reciprocal health care agreements”.
- Some credit cards offer free travel insurance if you use the card to pay for some or all of the trip. Read the fine print.
- If you are denied travel insurance, ask the insurer to provide reasons in writing.
Podcast: Coping with a cancer diagnosis
Prof Sarah Lewis, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, NSW; Kevin Bloom, Senior Social Worker, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Gastro-Intestinal Cancers, Cancer Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Hall & Wilcox (law firm); Johanna Jordaan, Consumer; Dr Deme Karikios, Medical Oncologist, Nepean Cancer and Wellness Centre, Nepean Hospital, NSW; Melissa Lawrie, Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse, Cancer Services, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Jacqueline Lesage, Consumer Reviewer, Cancer Voices NSW; McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; Louise Pellerade, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Andrew Potter, Consumer; Siân Slade, PhD Candidate, Nossal Institute for Global Health and Non-Executive Director (health, disability sectors), VIC; Paula Watt, Clinical Psychologist, WOMEN Centre, WA.
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