Cancer Essentials is a low cost cancer only insurance policy that provides the following main benefits:
* A once in the policy lifetime payment of £5,000 if diagnosed with cancer (non-melanoma skin cancer is excluded unless it has spread and active treatment is recommended).
* Up to £100,000 for drugs recommended by an NHS specialist if they aren’t approved by the NHS on financial grounds. A number of terms and conditions apply so the drugs must essentially be proven or established treatment and supported by published peer-reviewed clinical evidence.
* Access to the RedArc service. This provides the customer and their family with emotional support and practical advice from a team of personal nurse advisors, who offer support during both diagnosis and treatment.
* Unlimited use of a confidential 24/7 GP Helpline.
The plan is available to UK residents aged between 18 and 70 who haven’t already had cancer or are awaiting tests. Also excluded is anyone placed on or advised to join a screening or review programme because they are considered to be at a higher risk of developing cancer. Pre-existing cancer, non-spreading non-melanoma skin cancer and prostate cancer unless being actively treated are excluded.
The policy is annually renewable and a spouse or partner can be added too, but not children.
A 50 year old taking out a plan would pay between £5 and £8 a month, depending on age and whether they smoke. Premiums rise with age. An 18 year old non-smoker would pay £1.68 a month initially. Smoking status has to be disclosed at each annual renewal and being a smoker includes those who chew tobacco or use tobacco or nicotine replacement products, including vaping.
What They Say
"Medical director Dr Doug Wright said: “The NHS does a brilliant job of offering an extensive range of cancer services but financial pressures mean it simply cannot fund every cancer drug that is available. That’s where Aviva is stepping in. For a low monthly cost, customers have the peace of mind of knowing that if diagnosed with cancer, they will benefit from being able to access up to £100,000 worth of additional cancer drugs and treatments, should these by requested by the customer’s NHS specialist.
"In addition, customers diagnosed with cancer will immediately have access to high quality medical advice and support, provided by GPs and nurse advisers over the phone, as often as they need it. We recognise how devastating a diagnosis of cancer can be, and how crucial it is to be able to access the right information and emotional support, at a time that suits the individual.”
What We Say
"Aviva points out that half of all people born after 1960 can expect to get a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. That’s a scary stat and it’s no wonder cancer remains such a big fear to so many people.
"Many of those diagnosed with cancer will be elderly when that happens, but cancer can and does affect all age groups. Add on partners, children and, eventually, grandchildren, and the odds are heavily stacked towards one or more members of most families having cancer at some point in their life.
"Decades ago, a cancer diagnosis meant almost certain death. Today, early diagnosis, better and more specialist treatment and new drugs, understanding and technology mean that the majority of people now survive cancer. The NHS will treat the vast majority of cancer sufferers successfully and that’s a good thing, but increasingly people will want to top-up what the NHS offers.
"Aviva has recognised this and offers a package that pays some cash (the ‘incidental’ costs of being a cancer patient can so quickly add up), pays for certain recommended cancer drugs the NHS won’t fund, and provides a 24/7 GP helpline backed up the excellent RedArc nurse-led support service.
"So, the thinking behind the plan is sound. I have some concerns over the detail though and my thinking is influenced to some extent by what critical illness insurers learned earlier in that product’s development. First, £5,000 is not a very large sum if you are diagnosed with cancer. Second, the plan needs to make clearer what is not covered – as critical illness cover now does for example (Aviva could usefully use its own CI cancer definition as an example). Third, conditions such as benign brain tumours can have similar outcomes to malignant tumours, yet are not covered by a ‘cancer only’ definition.
"Overall, many clients may be better off using the cost of this plan towards buying more critical illness cover instead."